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April 12, 2006

Comments

J.Cassian

Hey, if we're doing a tour of Romance coffee-drinking, don't forget the Romanians (and Moldovans) sipping their cafea cu lapte. Dunno what it is in Occitan (Provencal etc.), Romansh, Sardinian or Friulan though.

Hugh Green

My biggest peeve at the minute is the pronunciation of a certain Latin American dictator as if he were the distant cousin of a Kerry footballer.

Frank McGahon

..or a Manchester United footballer. Someone needs to point out that Spanish, not French, is the language of that country.

Frank McGahon

Dunno what it is in Occitan (Provencal etc.), Romansh, Sardinian or Friulan though.

I imagine the Occitan would be café amb lèit although I didn't see any cafés offering that when I was in Carcassonne a few weeks ago (Then again, we spent the whole time in the cité as the ville basse was all blocked up by that cretinous protest the day we meant to check it out). As to the others, I plead ignorance. Incidentally I was disappointed to learn from a Polish colleague that in Poland they drink "cappucino" or just plain filter/instant/plunger and don't have any specifically Polish coffee-with-milk tradition.

Hugh Green

cappucino

I know of one particular individual who declares himself partial to the odd cup of chino.

J.Cassian

Actually, I suspect the Romanians don't really have much of a coffee-with-milk tradition either. I Googled up cafea cu lapte and one of the links has the note that this is a "French recipe".

My biggest peeve at the minute is the pronunciation of a certain Latin American dictator as if he were the distant cousin of a Kerry footballer

Is that a reference to Pinochet?(You'll have to excuse me, I'm a bit slow on the uptake today.) If so, I don't know why the media pronounce him as if he were a cousin of Rick O'Shea. It's funny, but French is the only foreign language media types seem to feel the need to pronounce correctly. There again, there was that odd habit in the 80s among the politically trendy of pronouncing Nicaragua in a pedantically Espaneesh way. This was supposedly meant as an act of solidarity with the Sandinistas. So how did they think the Contras pronounced "Nicaragua" then?

Abiola
The French observed by Fox News' Neil Cavuto were more likely sipping ...
But seeing as Cavuto was writing for an English-speaking audience, I don't see what's so terrible about this.

If such transmutations of terms annoy you, Japanese is about the worst possible language for you to take up: not only does the very limited repertoire of sounds in the language mean that words borrowed from abroad often sound little like their original sources (care to guess what "apaato", "shirubaa shiito" and "sekuhara" mean?) but even the very meanings of the terms tend to change as well, often drastically. What makes this even worse is that the Japanese are even more enthusiastic about adopting foreign words than English-speakers are, randomly sprinkling them all over the place for the "cool" effect when perfectly fine and well-known Japanese terms already exist.

Abiola

Oh, and a belated happy birthday.

Gerry O'Sullivan

How's about the sign you might see in a sandwich bar/café/pub advertising the availability of "panini's"?

Not only are they missing the point that "panini" is already a plural, they compound the error with the addition of a greengrocer's apostrophe.

Hugh Green

Paella when pronounced Pie-Ella (as in Fitzgerald) - that's another one.

Frank McGahon

But seeing as Cavuto was writing for an English-speaking audience, I don't see what's so terrible about this.

I would have thought a term like "café au lait" was fairly commonly known in the US (so much so that it's used to describe a certain shade of skin colour) but if it sounds too fancy-shmancy for Cavuto's audience, what's wrong with just plain old "coffee"? The term "latte" conjures up those vast towering glasses of hot frothy milk lightly scented with coffee which are regularly quaffed in the likes of Starbucks but rarely seen on the pavements of France.

I am leaving myself wide open to accusations of petty-minded, pompus pedantry with such gripes but I think what bothers me most is the incorrect use of a foreign-sounding term instead of the nearest English equivalent particularly so when it is not only pretentious but misleading. I do imagine, by the way, that I would be utterly baffled, should I ever attempt to learn Japanese.

"panini's"

Indeed, although I've never actually seen a "panino" offered for sale, here or in Italy, but perhaps I haven't been looking close enough.

Abiola
The term "latte" conjures up those vast towering glasses of hot frothy milk lightly scented with coffee which are regularly quaffed in the likes of Starbucks but rarely seen on the pavements of France.
I think the intention in using the term was precisely to associate the French and their seeming preference for secure indolence with a certain American demographic given to looking warmly on French socioeconomic arrangements - think brie, volvos, and ...
Frank McGahon

You're probably right but if so, it's a touch heavyhanded and the effect is undermined by the inconvenient fact that while the French might share that demographic's views on socio-economic arrangements, they don't when it comes to coffee. Actually, as it happens, the French aren't all that keen on Volvos either - I've never seen such a nationalistic approach to car purchases in other countries. The vast majority of vehicles on French roads are (generally inferior) French models.

Abiola
You're probably right but if so, it's a touch heavyhanded
Expecting subtlety from partisan hacks is perhaps asking for the impossible ...
while the French might share that demographic's views on socio-economic arrangements, they don't when it comes to coffee. Actually, as it happens, the French aren't all that keen on Volvos either
Do you think the average Cavuto reader knows or cares, though? Really, the syllogism* is simple: "latte" = "drink by effete, degenerate Europeans preferred by snooty welfare socialists", "French" = "effete, degenerate Europeans", ergo "latte drinking French" = "hopelessly degenerate Eurosocialists." As an effort at condemnation by association, "latte" carries all the right connotations, and not at so highfalutin' a level that any large portion of his audience could possibly miss what he's getting at. As a certain character who knew a thing or two about these things once said,
All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction. The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign, and not success in pleasing a few scholars or young aesthetes.
I wouldn't be surprised if the likes of Cavuto and whoever coined that line about "latte-sipping, brie-eating, Volvo-driving, sushi-eating liberals" were actually every bit as well-acquainted with Europe, its languages and its customs as any of us participating in this discussion; one shouldn't mistake the public persona of a propagandist for the private person.

*Yes, I know it isn't logically sound.

John

My biggest peeve at the minute is the pronunciation of a certain Latin American dictator as if he were the distant cousin of a Kerry footballer.

I spent a number of minutes trying to figure out how Chavez could be pronounced so that it would sound like a Kerry footballer.

Conor Griffin

My biggest peeve is the constant mispronounciation of the Arsenal/France striker Thierry Henry by Irish sports reporters (especially RTE's Des Cahill). For almost a decade, Cahill has persisted in pronouncing Thierry as "Theory".

I think this comes from the same source that leads many Irish people to mispronounce words such as Thames ("Th-ay-ms") and Thai ("Thigh"). The reluctance to silence the h in these words probably stems from an insecurity I'd refer to as the "dis, dat, deez and dose" problem. I think a large number of Irish people were repeatedly told as children by their teachers and parents to "pronounce your th's". I think many can't now stop themselves from always pronouncing the "h", even where it should be silent.

Frank McGahon

You're absolutely right and it's something I've thought myself for a long time....

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