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A hyperforeignism is a non-standard language form resulting from an unsuccessful attempt to apply the rules of a foreign language to a loan word (for example, the application of the rules of one language to a word borrowed from another) or, occasionally, a word believed to be a loan word. The result reflects "neither the... rules of English nor those of the language from which the word in question comes." For example, "habanero" is sometimes spelled or pronounced with an ñ (habañero), which is not the correct Spanish form from which the English word was borrowed.
In an extreme form, this can also apply to words that have a foreign origin but have since been assimilated to follow the general rules or even words that are not foreign at all but are misperceived as foreign.
Mistakenly using a hyperforeign pronunciation is often seen as absurd or embarrassing, because it implies the speaker is less educated than he or she might wish.
In English, hyperforeignisms are seen in loan words from many different languages.
In Afrikaans, the letter combination sch is pronounced [sk] (as in 'school'), except at the end of a word where it is pronounced [s]. However, most English speakers pronounce it as [ʃ] ("sh") in all positions, following the rules for German, in words such as Rooibosch and veldschoen.
French-derived forte (used to mean "strength" in English as in "not my forte") with silent final "e" is pronounced //, by confusion with the Italian musical term of the same spelling, but meaning "loud", which does pronounce the final "e". The double hyperforeignism with a stressed final syllable, // is also heard.
The word cadre is sometimes pronounced // in English, as though it were of Spanish origin. In its French original, the final "e" is silent [kɑdʁ], whereas it is a schwa in common English pronunciations.
Speakers of American English typically pronounce lingerie //, excessively depressing the first vowel of the French [lɛ̃ʒʁi] to sound more like a "typical" French nasal vowel, and rhyming the final syllable with English ray, by analogy with the many French loanwords ending in -é, -er, -et and -ez.
Legal English is replete with words derived from Norman French, which for a long time was the language of the courts in England and Wales. The correct pronunciation of Norman French is often closer to a natural contemporary English reading than to modern French: the attempt to pronounce these phrases as if they were modern French could therefore be considered to be a hyperforeignism. (It is also an anachronism. For example, the clerk's summons Oyez! ("Attention!") should have a final consonant, but whether it is /z/ or // is uncertain.
The Norman French language furthermore gave Southern England some ancient family names that were once associated with the aristocracy, which should be given their natural English pronunciation. A good example is Lestrange which is sometimes mistakenly pronounced with its natural and contemporaneous French inflection.
The word parmesan, though it denotes an Italian cheese, derives its spelling from French and should therefore be pronounced "par-me-zan". However it is often mispronounced as "par-mi-ZHAN" under the influence of the Italian name for the cheese, parmigiano.
Speakers of English often pronounce the surname of the painter Edgar Degas as though its first syllable were the English noun day; in French it is pronounced [də]. The common anglophone pronunciation rhymes with the French dégât, which means "damages" or "destruction."
Many non-native French speakers who have some familiarity with the language may erroneously omit the last consonants in words like Vichyssoise /z/, in the chess term en prise, in prix fixe, in mise en scène, and in coup de grâce in which some omit the final consonant /s/, although it is pronounced in French [ku də ɡʁas].
There are many exceptions connected with proper nouns may omit the final z or s in pronouncing names such as Saint-Saëns, Duras, Boulez, and Berlioz. The final letter in these words is pronounced as /s/ for the first two words and /z/ for the last two words.
"Claret" is often thought of as a French loanword and mispronounced //, losing the "t". In fact it is an Anglicised (and genericised) version of the original French clairet, and the "t" should thus be pronounced, with the stress on the first syllable: //.
The j in the name of the Taj Mahal or raj is often rendered /ʒ/, but a closer approximation to the Hindi sound is /dʒ/. (j in most other Roman-alphabet spellings of words associated with languages of India is best approximated /dʒ/.)
Another example is the pronunciation of Punjab as //; a closer approximation to the original is i//. The letter u in this case represents the Hindi neutral vowel, with a sound similar to that of the u in English cut.
The "g" in Adagio may be realized as /ʒ/, even though the Italian original has an affricate /dʒ/. Similarly English-speaking musicians render the Italian word mezzo as /metsoʊ/, though in Italian that word is pronounced /ˈmɛd.dzo/. (In Italian, "z" is pronounced as /ts/ in some words, but not that one.)
The word bruschetta, particularly in American English is commonly rendered as /bruːˈʃɛtə/ with an English 'sh' sound, probably as a result of Americans' familiarity with words and surnames of German origin containing 'sch', which would be pronounced this way. An approximation that is more reflective of Italian phonology would be /bruːˈskɛtə/ and the authentic pronunciation in Italian would be /bruˈsket.ta/.
A similar problem afflicts the brand name Freschetta, which is routinely pronounced with the 'sh' sound in commercials. The type of cherry, maraschino, the Italian astronomer's name Schiaparelli and the surname Schiavo are also liable to this mispronunciation. A famous popular culture example of this error is the Canadian band Rush's song "Red Barchetta", in which Geddy Lee pronounces /barˈtʃɛtə/ instead of Italian /barˈketta/.
A similar effect can arise from confusion between Italian and Spanish. For example, Shakespeare spells the name of the principal male character in The Taming of the Shrew as "Petruchio". This was intended as a phonetic representation of the Italian name Petruccio, presumably following either Spanish or English spelling conventions, both of which use "ch" for [tʃ]. The name should therefore be pronounced /peˈtrut.tʃo/, like the Italian name. The common pronunciation /peˈtruːkijo/, which assumes that Shakespeare's spelling is genuinely Italian, is therefore a hyperforeignism: in Italian there is no name "Petruchio" so spelled.
A barista is a worker in a coffee shop: Americans will often substitute "baristo" for a male barista, when in fact "barista" is invariable in gender in Italian and Spanish (as are other words ending in the suffix -ista).
The word "latte" (milk), as in "caffè latte", is often misspelled as latté or lattè, despite having no accent on latte in Italian as it has the stress on the "a".
The digraph ch of Spanish is generally realized /tʃ/, similarly to English. Hyperforeign realizations of many Spanish loanwords or proper names may substitute other sounds. Examples include a French-style [ʃ] in the surname Chávez and in Che Guevara, or a German-influenced [x] or Greek-influenced [k] in machismo. The z in the Spanish word "chorizo" is often realized as ts by English speakers, which is the pronunciation of the letter z in Italian, but never in present-day Spanish.
Some English speakers add a tilde to Spanish words where it does not belong, such as habañero for correct habanero and "empañada" for correct "empanada". The latter changes the meaning in Spanish from "breaded" to "fogged up" and perhaps even "diapered".
In Russian, many early loanwords are pronounced as native Russian words with full palatalization. Hyperforeignism occurs when some speakers pronounce these early loanwords without palatization. For example: тема ("theme") -> тэма, текст ("text") -> тэкст, музей ("museum") -> музэй, газета ("gazette") -> газэта and эффект ("effect") -> эффэкт.
An example of hyperforeignism in Swedish is the common use of "chevré" in "chevré[ost]" for "chèvre cheese", which is pronounced quite different from the original French "chèvre" (possibly by false analogy with the Swedish "grevé" cheese, grevéost).
Hyperforeignism for comic effect
The silent "t" in "Report" in the title of the parody pundit show The Colbert Report is a hyperforeignism used for comedic effect. It is a play on the host's surname, Colbert (pronounced //), which is of French origin (although the actor's family has no recent French ancestry).
In the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, Richard Bucket pronounces his surname like the water vessel, but his snobbish wife Hyacinth insists on // (like bouquet), à la française. Series creator Roy Clarke said he got the inspiration for this character trait after meeting someone with the surname "Bottom" who insisted it was pronounced // boh-TOHM.
- Wells, John Christopher (1982). Accents of English: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-521-29719-2.
- www.merriam-webster.com: habanero (variant spelling)
- Wells, J.C. (1998). Accents of English: Volume 1 (An introduction) (Reprint. ed.). Cambridge [u.a.]: Univ. Press. p. 108. ISBN 0521297192.
- Merriam-Webster, Inc (1994). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (revised ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. p. 516. ISBN 0-87779-132-5.
- Pronounce Names
- "Hispanic Play Food Set".: "Serve up awareness for Hispanic cultures... Eight-piece play set includes tamale, enchilada, taco, quesadilla, empañada, rice, beans and flan."
- "Empanadas Grande (recipe from Chi-Chi's)".: "Bake 1 empañada at a time on lower oven rack 12 to 18 minutes…"
- See inogolo:pronunciation of Stephen Colbert.
- Muy, Ylan Q. (21 June 2006). "Where Target Is Always 'Tar-zhay'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2011.