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How should native speakers pronounce loanwords?

When speaking another language it is important to pronounce foreign words in a correct foreign accent bupropion xl 150 mg. But what if the words are the same?

Many languages are full of words that have been borrowed or loaned from others. When there is no equivalent term (schadenfreude in English), when ordering foreign dishes (bruschetta in English) or for no apparent reason (le weekend in French), languages make use of loanwords.

Since every language has its fair share of loanwords, how should they be pronounced by native speakers of the original language?

In English conversation, should a native French speaker stress the last syllable of restaurant as they would in their first language, or the first syllable as English speakers do? Should a native English speaker drop their German accent to say the German word for mobile phone: Handy?

The linguistic challenges of loanwords

There is considerable debate about loanword pronunciation among academics. Jessica Love, a psychologist from Northwestern University, says the ‘nativisation’ of loanwords raises problems for speakers.

Nativisation is when a loanword’s pronunciation is completely changed based on the conventions of the borrowing language. The examples Love gives are the towns of Lima and Versailles in the USA, pronounced ‘Lime-a’ and ‘Ver-sails’ respectively over the Spanish original ‘Lee-ma’ and the French ‘Ver-sigh’. When a loanword is nativised, speakers of its home language have to choose between pronouncing it in this new, unrecognisable way, or sticking with a pronunciation of their mother tongue.

However, even when a loanword undergoes ‘foreignisation’ (the closest approximation of the original pronunciation, based on the sounds available), questions are still raised. Kindergarten (English) might sound a lot like Kindergarten (German), but there are still subtle differences in the delivery.

Loanwords best practices

There is no clear solution to the problems posed by loanwords, but there is a guideline that can help. Linguist Alan Hogue told Love: “You have to take into account your audience.”

Indeed, keeping your interlocutor in mind is a recurring theme in academic discussion of loanwords. If you are conversing with someone who you think will understand that you are pronouncing a word in its native accent, then there is no reason not to do it. If you are speaking to someone with little knowledge of your native language, or indeed of linguistics, it may be best to speak the loanword as they would.

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