Monday, June 14, 2010

sakka!!!!!

A few months ago, I was hanging out with a friend’s parents. The dad is vaguely Italian American and was talking about italy. I mentioned that I have family in italy and have an Italian middle name. When I told him my name, he kind of scoffed and told me I was pronouncing it wrong.

This, folks, drives me up the fucking wall.

We’ve talked recently about pronunciation and how bad conversational pronunciation tends to bum me out, but there’s a whole other side of this argument that seems to be tangentially cropping up in the shadow of the world cup and I’d like to address it as best I can right now.

My mom lives in Missouri in the middle of nowhere. The closest town has maybe two hundred people in it and is called Versailles. It’s pronounced ver-sales. When I tell people this, or generally when people hear this, they jump into a smug, self righteous pitying head shake and weep for the ‘poor dumb hillbillies who don’t even know how to properly say the name of their own town,’ which, let me tell you right now, is extremely obnoxious.

See, here’s the deal: That’s what they named their town. If I have a cat, and I name it Lemon, but I pronounce it luh-MOAN, that’s not wrong, that’s what the name is. It’s MY cat. You can’t and wouldn’t ever presume to come up to me and say “well, the name of that cat is supposed to be pronounced ‘LE-mon,’ you poor uneducated slob” but that’s exactly what people are doing with this town. A town and a cat aren’t all that different when it comes to naming them, after all. You pick a name, settle on a spelling and pronunciation and bingo; shit’s named.

In New York, there’s a street called Houston, pronounced House-ton. Is that stupid? It’s their fucking street. The people who live there get to say it however they want. There’s no precedent for this kind of thing that’s really appropriate. If there was, there would be no heteronyms, for one thing, and for another thing, it’s all fucking just condescension anyway. Here’s what I mean:

A person from france (to borrow a scene from the Simpsons) pronounces the word chowder differently than we do due to his accent. He’s not saying it ‘wrong,’ he’s saying it using the filter of language that he understands, with a silent consonant and inflection that he grew up with. For a Midwestern American to interpret the letters that make up ‘versailles’ as ver-SALES seems to me to be the exact same thing. However making fun of the French guy is xenophobic and boneheaded, but making fun of the hillbillies is somehow sophisticated cocktail party fodder.

The most important point here, people (and it’s a point I have just barely touched on) is finally that words DO have proper pronunciations but when those words are names of things, the people that named them are ultimately right, regardless of what the letters look like. THEY INVENTED THE FUCKING NAME!!!! That’s it. The way my family has been pronouncing my middle name for centuries is the way that my family’s name is properly pronounced. I don’t care what you think you know, or what your level of sophistication is. My name. My family. That’s how we say it. This pronunciation denotes this strain of bloodline, and that’s all there is to it. Similarly, THIS pronunciation does NOT mean a church in france, it means a town in Missouri. This is NOT a town in texas named for a civil war era politician. It’s a street in New York, because practically, if you’re walking around manhattan asking people for where “Houston” (town pronunciation) is, they’re gonna say “texas” and that’s not productive. And if your ‘proper’ pronunciation gets you headed to the completely wrong place, while everyone who’s pronouncing it ‘wrong’ gets to where they’re trying to go just fine, who’s the asshole? Who’s actually wrong?

Now, finally, I’m not suggesting descriptivism over prescription when it comes to pronunciation or definition generally, that would be dumb. I’m just saying that when it comes to proper names, there’s nothing so shitty as being both elitist, smug and wrong all at once.

What does this have to do with the world cup? Well, assholes, denoted language is denoted language and fighting it because of some archaic and unquantifiable idea about propriety is shitty, one hundred percent of the time. Here in America, the shit’s called soccer. In most other places it’s called football. That makes sense, football is a good name for the game. But listen up, penis holes: In England they call fries chips and chips crisps. They call cookies biscuits and use the slang term ‘bird’ to refer to women, while we use the more Americanized ‘hoes.’
We have different words for all this. Is that wrong? Fuck no. It’s the evolution of language in different parts of the world. In Australia they use English differently than we do here OR there, likewise in South Africa, and it’s fine. The notion that I can’t call soccer ‘soccer’ because you call it something else, even though I grew up in a world where it’s called soccer, well, that’s pretty fucked up, right? I grew up somewhere else. Shit’s got different names. In different parts of America hoagies, grinders and heroes are all different names for the same sub sandwich, but nobody’s wrong, it’s regional diversity.

SO, before you get your panties in a bunch about people saying ‘soccer’ instead of football, how about you take a second and think about what the world cup is supposed to be about in the first place and appreciate the different things that the whole world brings to the table. I bet the Japanese don’t call it football. Are they wrong too, or are you, smug dick?

In conclusion, go Cameroon!

55 comments:

dean said...

i live in portland, oregon. and there's a street named "couch". up until about a week ago, i thought it was pronounced like the household furniture. wrong. it's pronounced "cooch". which, actually, is way better.

Capt Murdock said...

Hey you uneducated hick! Versailles isn't a church!

EZB said...

ay yo, nice work dannyuk first time post-er and you already got bk posting about you. lol i'm just messin around. i like the soccer related post though. how bout those vuvezela's (?) eh? i don't know i kinda like em. i feel like they're subliminally puke-enducing.

Felix said...

On a side note about the street named Couch in Portland, apparently the city named it after a famous figure and pronounced it "cooch" for that reason; last year the family of said person asked people to please start pronouncing it correctly, which is "couch" just like the piece of furniture. Not sure who's correct now...

Mark said...

I didn't know there was more than one way to pronounce 'Dong-huffer'

Nico said...

@ EZB

I went to watch the SA/Mexico game at a fanpark close to my house. The atmosphere and the vuvuzelas are great, but after about 6 hours or so of it, you really DO feel physically sick. But constant exposure to loud noises are known to do that.

I just came back from the Holland/Denmark game in a full Soccer City (83K people) and it was DEAFENING. Luckily I had the sense to wear earplugs, and my ears are feeling just fine.

I know it sounds like I'm not a fan of the vuvuzela, but it angers me to no end that they want to ban it. Its been part of South African soccer culture forever, and it's South Africa's world cup.

Matt Ramone said...

I've been pronouncing Skiba as "co-CAINE" all these years. Glad to know I'm not in the minority.

Donnie said...

Im just glad you mentioned Houston and left out your hatred for Texas.

david said...

Matt: Hilarious.

On the other hand, what is the likelihood that these people, who pronounce Versailles as "ver-sales" actually named the town?

In Western Pennsylvania there is a town called DuBois. I grew up hearing folks all the time say "do-boys", when referencing the town. DuBois is clearly French. The people who named that town certainly came from France or named it after a French person. The people who pronounce it "do boys" did not name the town. They just live there. What would ever possess them to over-complicate things with a foreign name just to pronounce it wrong?

I don't think your friends in Versailles who pronounce it "ver-Sales" named the town. I think they just adapted it as they got stupider.

Why are you defending hillbillies anyway? They didn't name those towns. They just live there. Fuck them. They should pronounce it correctly. Arguing for ignorantly pronouncing a foreign word is a) accepting our culture as one that lacks culture and b) in support if the ignorant notion that if you can't speak the language, get the fuck out. How about if you can't learn to live with and communicate with others whose background differs from you, YOU get the fuck out so we can live in an educated culture where Versailles IS "Vair-sigh" and DuBois "doobwa".

Heave said...

@mark

That is exactly what I was thinking, additionally I wasn't aware that it had Italian roots.

dustyfloors said...

This happens to me all the time when I'd be talking about my girlfriend's cat (whose name is Jesus as in that gymnast that hangs from the cross) and people would laugh at me because they'd assume I didn't konw how to pronounce Jesus.
Annoyed the shit out of me. How would you know better than me what my girlfriend named her cat? Dicks.

Word verification:
gation - How do I pronounce that?

Hamilton Martin said...

"It's chowdah! Say it right, frenchy!"

Maximilian said...

i don't want to be one of those smug dicks, but i don't get your point. if someone invented the name of a city it should be pronounced like they wanted it. but the british actually invented football. so.... yeah, it should be football?

EZB said...

Quimby: Demand? Who are you to demand anything? I run this town. You're just a bunch of low-income nobodies!

Assistant: [sotto voce] Uh, election in November. Election in November...

Quimby: What?? Again?? This stupid country.

planespotting said...

BK - have you ever been to Lake of the Ozarks? Maybe you get asked that often when people find out your your mom lives near Versailles, Mo. ... or maybe you don't.

But anyway, my fiance's parents have a condo there and when we drive down from their house in Southern Iowa, we drive past a sign somewhere that shows you the way to Versailles. It's the kind of sign that my near-father in law makes a joke about and says something like "how'd we end up in France?"

It's all very hilarious to him.

Jake Regier said...

I once lived in Kansas, and there's a restaurant, named after a dude I went to school with's father, called Kuntz. It's, uhh, pronounced 'coonts', but a lot of people who don't know that find it funny/frightening.

Johno said...

"Around here we say birds not bitches"

Garfield Roscoe said...

Exactly what Mark said. If you name your cat Lemon because it's yellow and you squeeze it and liquid comes out and you put that liquid in your tea and on your fish, then guess what? You didn't invent the word Lemon as a name for your cat. You named your cat after, or in the image of, a fruit. If you want to conceded that you prefer a different pronunciation, that's completely fine. But let's not pretend that this was some strange word that has no origination. I completely agree with most of what you're saying, but you're way smarter than I am, and surely you realize that these words originate from somewhere. At what point do we draw the line? If you name your kid Beethoven, but pronounce it Bee-Though-Ven, is that okay? Sure you can call your kid whatever the fuck you want, but let's not pretend that one day you were sitting in your kitchen with your wife looking at the letters of the alphabet and this "name" just came to you. The name is noteworthy because of the man. As pretentious and arrogant as it may be to correct someone on the pronunciation of their own name, it's equally as moronic to pronounce what is clearly a word originating from the French language in a way completely different than the way it was originally pronounced. I mean, are we physically incapable of saying "ver sigh"? So yes, it can be complete garbage to correct someone, but what is the problem with pronouncing it with respect to the original way of saying it?

Garfield Roscoe said...

To add, I cannot think of any English-originating words that have that ailles 'word part' that is pronounced "ales" (like the end of the word sales). If it were of our origination, and they wanted to name the town "versales" then I'd anticipate they'd have spelled it that way. Again, pronounce it however you want, it's not going to bother me any. How bout that Brett Favurrah? Farvra? Favrah? Now there's a guy that can't pronounce his own name...

Donnie said...

This just looks like something that should be discussed here in the drawer...

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/phi/1755781713.html

Sean said...

What if people originally named and lived in the town of Versailles and pronounced it "Ver-siy" or you know, the french pronounciation.

Then over time the correct pronunciation was lost in translation, and it became "Ver-sales."

I only bring this up because I live off of a street called "Versailles" in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and I remember being one-upped by some smug douchebag when I was a little kid "saying it wrong."

Eric said...

@donnie

that was fucking hilarious

fewell said...

FACT ME TILL I FART....
It was us English that invented the word 'soccer' anyway. Took the middle bit of the word 'Association' from the term 'Association Football'.

Robb said...

oOo sheeeit knowledge be droppin like bombs in here!
David is making an awful lot of sense.
EZB - did you mean 'INducing', you fucking idiot? Jk dawg, let's you and I go grab a hero in, uh, "Ver-sales"...

Drunken Acorn said...

Wow I just asked if anyone else was pumped for the game, didn't mean to start all this hoopla between soccer and football. I think sports and the sock drawer don't mix too well. Ah fuck it, what does everyone think of the Big 12 breaking up? Can Kobe and the Lakers come back and win? How will Tebow fair in the NFL? And the big question, will the Cubs win a World Series this century?

Jon Cendrowski said...

Here in Michigan, there is a town called Milan, pronounced "My Lan". Exactly like what you were talking about, people are dicks.

Robb said...

Acorn - it's hard to know what we can expect from Tebow...besides lots of tears! AhahaAa~ Nah I actually didn't hop on the 'let's mock Tebow crying' bandwagon. I mean, let's see YOU in that scenario, hot pants McGee. I'm sure you'd be a rock...

Daniel said...

Versailles was Louis XIV's, aka le roi soleil, home/palace. He wanted to get away from dirty old Paris and the disgusting Parisians at the time. Louis would also force his subjects to stay there sometimes in order to butt rape them. BAM! Throwin' down French history in this bitch.

limited nobility said...

youtube search why do i hate the menzingers.pretty funny.The pronunciation thing is just sort of case by case,there's no air-tight doctrine that can be applied to it or whatever.david,how do you pronounce France?toby made bemis kind of rhyme with penis.This is all dreadful......................or whatever.my verification word is soooooooooooo fuckin funny and I aint tellin!

Drunken Acorn said...

@ Robb, Yeah I never hated on Tebow either, it's not his fault he's bigger then most linebackers and he just crushed some people. I just couldn't believe he was taken so early in the draft. I think Jimmy Clausen is gonna be the best QB outta that draft class. And I"m an acorn not a rock. Did anyone see my Sun Devils make the College World Series for the 22nd time, hell yeah, Go Devils!

Daniel said...

Also at @Danny UK. HAHAHAHa England sucks! You guys can't even beat us at your own stupid game. I'll admit that I watched like the last 5 minutes of the Uruguay-France game and that has convinced me never to watch another game of SOCCER again. It is a fun game to play sometimes though. Yeah, so...uh go cry and jerk off into your david beckham jersey while you watch England get anally ravaged. I'll be listening to Jawbreaker and having a life.

Daniel said...

My name is actually pronounced Da Neil by the way. Stupid Englishman!

Robb said...

Acorn - that was the 'indefinite' hot pants mcgee. Not yourself per se.

M Ramone - tickle my leg. Gimme a--TICKLE it. TIIIIICKLE IT (grabs your hand forcefully)

Banana@1000MPH said...

@ Robb, you DO have the beard for that bit, I'll just go ahead and assume Matt Ramone acts like a timid child actor.

kylewagoner said...

I dig these words...if I translated them the right way.

jakeprichards said...

I must agree with Mr. Kelly here. So what if French folk founded the towns of Dubois and Versailles. There's not many French people there now, so there's really no reason to pronounce it using French pronunciation rules. Like he said, language evolves and the "correct" way to say something, is the way that effectively communicates your idea. So, if everyone living in Versailles says "ver-sales", that's how it's said, regardless of its origin. I'm from Pittsburgh, and the reason for the "h" at the end is because the suffix "burgh" is Scottish and meaning town or borough. It should actually be pronounced "Pittsboro" or "pittsburr" or some crazy shit. But if you call it that, you're probably going to get a swift kick to the groin, and rightly so. It's not "disrespectful" or "uncultured." According to that line of thinking anything other than using the names of things from the very first human language (you know how to speak that one, right?) is uncultured. Because really, all current languages are just bastardizations of older ones, English, which is the best. So everyone should have to speak it. Seriously though, is our culture so irritatingly PC that folks are upset about "ver-sales" over Versailles...is PC even the right term for it...I just realized I could've been masturbating to Lindsey Lohan snatch-shots this whole time....

Sylvester Trombone said...

I never knew Dong Huffer was actually Italian. You learn something new every day, I guess. Sounded kinda Vietnamese/English to me. How do you pronounce it?

I've been real close to Versailles not too long ago. There is a magical and mystical establishment nearby called Earth Angelz. Check it out sometime. Make sure you bring enough cash to cover the services or you might find yourself running for your life down a gravel road.

Robb said...

Whoa - assuming everyone's online personas can be trusted - not ONE female comment in today's drawer. That is fucking awesome. Too "dorky" of a topic, huh ladies? If BEEEX had decided to rip apart J-Biebz or something equally corny today you XX chromosomes would be on it like flies to shit. Truth

Josh Talo said...

There was someone with a BSC shirt on at the Dear Landlord/Off With Their Heads show in Lansing tonight.

Trace said...

I'd like to know why Kelly hates Texas... is it in an old post? I kinda hope it isn't because I don't want to search for it.

A. said...

Ah horseshit. You can't justify saying shit wrong just because everybody else says it wrong too. Having an entirely new word for futbol, is one thing. Your culture has made a whole new word for it. Bitchin'. However naming shit after other places then just saying it wrong, and eventually accepting it because everybody else is stupid enough to say it the same way, is just, well stupid. The New Mad-red's fault. Really, fucking c'mon! The only way we will ever elevate ourselves as a species is to say "your saying that like a dildo" when others get dildo'ee. I'm all for people naming their offspring whatever they want and pronouncing it however they please. Great, it's an expression of individuality and your baby will be the only Fylich in the world pronounced Felch. But when it comes to communal places like Versailles, MO, or New Madrid, MO or any other town named in homage to a European city that my fellow Missourians, (fuck must of them (us) pronounce it fucking Missoura for Christ’s sake!) they should at least have the respect for the people they are supposedly respecting by pronouncing the fucking name right! Elevate! You don't have to be smug about it, but don't defend stupidity just because it's convenient.

Sickie27 said...

Brendan,

How do I smoothly quit supporting a scene that I've been supporting consistently for five years? I've been going to shows in/around Atlanta since before I could drive and haven't stopped going since. I've spent an ungodly amount of money supporting local and touring bands with buying entries to shows and shirts and CDs and even just donating. I'm always up front for every band at a show. I've dragged my friends to shows just to expose them to stuff and it'd be more support for bands. I'm always telling my friends about new bands and about local bands. I want the Atlanta punk scene to be good and different but it seems lately that I've been getting nothing from shit from people in the scene who don't support it HALF as much as I do. Bands and people are fucking others over in the scene and it's sad. I've gotten shit for calling people out on how shitty it is to sit outside during a band but expect these people to watch theirs and etc. I've recently realized that I can't keep my mouth shut when someone does something I feel is wrong, but I don't feel it's such a bad thing when I'm really trying to better a scene I've cared deeply about.

Maybe this all sounds melodramatic (it is 4 AM and all) but I can't stand watching this scene turn to shit and have people literally blame me for it. I just want to know how to separate myself from it without getting any more hurt from it.

-Sickie

Maximilian said...

on the football topic again.... i thought it was awesome that the americans kicked british ass. ok, not really, but you get it. everyone expected them to win and than that happens.

and this year is the first time that i really support my country. germany ruled against australia.

DannyUK said...

Woah Woah Woah! Shit got messed up here!

I'm just an ideas man, you know? My little (drunken) rant caused an explosion in the sock drawer!

@EZB - them vuvuzelas sound like a swarm of bee's at the mic. I can't stand it, but it's part of their culture so I feel it would be disrespectful to ban them... Although I would like to shove it (the vuvuzela, not my penis) up the blowers arse one by one.

@Maximilian, Guten tag! So an English man and a German agree on something! What is this world coming to!? I hope England can finish top in our group, having seen the way you destroyed Australia, I don't want to have to play you in the last 16!

@Daniel - Wow. Just wow. So fair enough, my 2-0 prediction didn't come true and you got a point against us. Altidore could have made it all three as well. Still, these things happen in football, we move on, we deal with it, we come back stronger (hopefully) against Algeria on Friday night. So what if we cant beat you at football even though you invented it. We can't beat most of the Oceania teams at rugby, yet we invented that also and transported the sport out there. This happens believe it or not! It can be applied to cricket also. You don't always invent something and remain the best at it. We create the largest Empire ever after gains made from the Treaty of Versailles, we lose the majority of it quite quickly, another power takes over and we have slumped into a position of minor international strength. Politics and sport have remarkable parallels at times.

For what its worth, I didn't cry , or jizz into my Beckham shirt, nor did I cry at all. I enjoyed the game! Thought there were many positives to take from it. Shame Rob Green positioned himself like he did, but these things happen in sports at any level.

Heave said...

And the perfect Simpson's quote to top off the discussion:

"Oh, I'll kill myself if Portugal doesn't win."

EZB said...

wow yea, enduce is not even a word. i guess i was just spelling it fonetickly. ay yo any chicagoians have any stanley cup sitings? that was a great win and i'm jealous

Candice said...

toby got to hang out with the stanley cup! that lucky little bastard.

EZB said...

whaaaat? thats fucking awesome!

Harley said...

Is your middle name spaghetti too?

Jennifer said...

1. Why does it seem like I am the only one who is pretty much dying to know Brendan's middle name (and don't tell me it's Mt. Etna!)
2. I too live in Portland and have always wanted to live on Couch Street (that's COOCH! If it were Couch, I wouldn't want to live there.)

Drunken Acorn said...

What! It's noon thrity and no post. Shit! Ah well maybe by the time I get home. @ Robb, Cool man I wasn't sure if you were calling me the hot pants (Which for a short round acorn, I look amazing in hot pants)I was confussed. And people often mistake acorns for ugly rocks. It makes me sad.

Sean said...

BK,

I remember a while ago you saying something along the lines of "your band sucks if you have a keyboard in there. There is nothing cool about a keyboard in a band."

I'm paraphrasing of course, but that was the basic jist of it.

That being said, how do you feel about Against Me! performing live with the ex-keyboardist from The Hold Steady?

I mean, I don't mind it, but I was just wondering if this technically falls under the umbrella of "lame."

Johno said...

That guy is pretty awesome.

Word verification: dicsupe
Seriously.

Andrew said...

As the resident hick from Missouri I've been to Versailles and have no problem with the pronunciation. I don't understand why some people say "Missour-a" but if people wanna do it go for it. Almost 100% of the time it's a politician, which doesn't make any sense, but whatever.
Near where I live there's a town called Krakow that some people (not from around here) call Crack-o whereas we call it Craw-ko.

BFD

haras.ment said...

I'm from Ohio so we have all sorts of f'ed up pronunciations and names - one of my personal favorites being Mantua. In Italy, I am told it is said man-too-a, but here in Ohio it's man-a-way. I don't know how you get that from Mantua, but hey, that's how the hell they say it. My husband and I always argue about my hometown's name too - Rootstown. People from there say it ritz-town, and he gets all angry b/c it should be "rewts-town" - um thank you but no. He was not amused when I shared this post haha.