Posts Tagged ‘Native English Accent’


23 October, 2010

When native English speakers encounter a foreign language word, they tend to unconsciously apply a few default rules when trying to pronounce it. One of these rules is about which syllable to stress. If the word ends with a vowel, its penultimate syllable is stressed. In Indian languages stress is less pronounced, but is usually determined by the length of syllables. Long syllables sound more stressed than short syllables. Because of these different stressing rules, Indian language words sound ‘accented’ when pronounced by native English speakers. For example, in Himalaya, the second syllable is long and the other three are short. What should sound like HimAlaya (हिमालय) comes out as HimalAya (हिमलेय) after applying the default native English stressing rule. A few more examples:

Varanasi (the first, second and the fourth syllables are long) -> VaranAsi

Ramayana (the first and the second syllable are long) -> RamayAna

Vatsyayana (the first and the second syllable are long) -> VastsyayAna

Question: Why do Indian cricket commentators, who should know better, pronounce Ganguly as Gangooly? In other contexts, why do Indians pronounce Sushmita as Sushmeeta and Sunidhi as Suneedhi?

(Hint: The answer is in the first paragraph)