INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

Herman Tull hwtull at MSN.COM
Wed Feb 17 14:31:57 UTC 2010

> From the obscure footnote department--perhaps this principle was first 
enunciated by P. T. Barnum, but it was popularized by the great New Yorker 
writer, E. B. White in describing his teacher, Willaim Strunk (recounted in 
the preface to their "Elements of Style"):

"He felt it was worse to be irresolute than to be wrong.  I remember a day 
in class when he leaned far forward, in his characteristic pose--the pose of 
a man about to impart a secret--and croaked, "If you don't know how to 
pronounce a word, say it loud!  If you don't know how to pronounce a word, 
say it loud!"  This comical piece of advice struck me as sound at the time, 
and I still respect it.  Why compound ignorance with inaudibility.  Why run 
and hide?"

Herman Tull

From: "Gary Tubb" <tubb at UCHICAGO.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:06 AM
Subject: Re: INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

> 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?
> --G.
> Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
>> Some notes on English word stress rules:
>> D

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