INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

Gary Tubb tubb at UCHICAGO.EDU
Wed Feb 17 14:06:16 UTC 2010

Dominik, we may be dealing here with, more precisely, English word 
rhythm choices earmarked for attacking foreign words.  In speaking to 
earlier generations of students, I used to call this the "Art Fleming 
syndrome."  Art Fleming was the host of the television quiz show 
"Jeopardy" throughout most of the '60's and '70's, and among his many 
charms was the notorious practice of pronouncing every unfamiliar 
foreign word as if it were Spanish (actually Spanish with an American 
English accent, which would have him pronounce words like Ramayana and 
Mahabharata with the stress on the penultimate syllable, but with a 
non-Spanish reduction of the preceding vowel).  Mr. Fleming did this 
with such confidence (following the advice of another great American 
showman, P.T. Barnum: "If you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it 
LOUD") that he probably helped millions feel reassured in indulging the 
same instinct.

What causes speakers of North Indian languages such as Hindi to make a 
similar shift in some English place names, such as "amriikaa" for 
"America"?  Has Portuguese or some other language intervened in the 
history of this word?


Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
> Some notes on English word stress rules:
> D

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