Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 11:47:25 -0400
From: Beverly Flanigan
Subject: Re: Beijing /j/

The latest issue of _American Speech_ (Winter '97) has a Miscellany article
on one of these foreignizing sets, /a/~/ae/, as in Colorado, mantra,
pistachio, even habitat; the thesis is that we tend to use /a/ even if /ae/
was the original (or nativized) vowel because we want to "sound authentic."
It's by Michael Shapiro. On Beijing: When we hired a Chinese instructor
this year, a Far East colleague chastised us for saying [zh]; it was so
easy to slip into.

Incidentally, what is the range of pronunciation of 'Chicago' with [ch]?
It's heard early on in "American Tongues."

At 11:27 AM 5/13/98 -0400, you wrote:
>At 12:14 AM -0500 5/13/98, Donald M. Lance wrote:
>>>Does anyone know why the j in Beijing is frequently pronounced as if
>>>The Mandarin pronunciation is clearly like a "regular" English j, and the
>>>switch from Peking happened recently enough that it shouldn't have gotten
>>>mixed up.
>>For the same reason people say 'machete' and 'Chicano' as if they were
>>French words. Also the -ch- in 'Appalachian', said like 'appelation'. And
>>some other words I can't think of at the moment. Radio and TV announcers
>>seem to have a rule that says "when in doubt, assume French origin." But,
>>when in doubt, -ei- is treated as if it were German. Thirty or so years
>>ago, before news people knew that Brunei existed, I knew someone from
>>there. He said it 'bru-nay'. Now we just hear 'bru-nigh'.
>Clearly, there's a real phenomenon of generalized "foreign pronunciation"
>that may well encompass the [zh] pronunciation of Beijing. But I'm not
>sure all the above fit under that category. I've usually heard "Chicano"
>with a Spanish affricate rather than a French fricative, but I think
>there's also a phonological process whereby a number of words in which [ch]
>occurs in a totally unstressed syllable is de-affricativized. Consider,
>for example, Chicago (with a [sh]) vs. Chi-town and Chisox ('Chicago White
>Sox') with a [ch]. Or chiropodist, with either initial [k] or [sh], but
>not [ch]. Or cheroot (evidently from Tamil), usually (in my experience)
>[sh] rather than [ch]. I think the key here is not the extension of [+
>French] but the lack of stress on the first syllable; maybe Chicano (in
>losing its [+ Spanish] feature?) is assimilated to this class rather than
>treated as specifically French.