Author Topic: Correcting Others  (Read 2840 times)

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menley

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Correcting Others
« on: March 15, 2013, 07:02:54 AM »
This is both travel and etiquette-related, so I wasn't sure which board is most appropriate. Please move it if necessary!

I currently live in a country where the language is very unfamiliar to visitors. Letters that look like English letters are pronounced in very different ways than they would be pronounced in English, so often when we have guests, they will pronounce street names, restaurants, etc. in ways that are incorrect.

Rather than correcting them on the pronunciation (because there is no way they would have known it!) I simply just say it the proper way if I later reference it in a sentence. As an example, my husband's parents said "Oh, are we at <incorrectly pronounced public monument> yet?" and I said something like, "No, not yet, but you should soon see <correctly pronounced public monument> coming up soon on the right."  To me, this is a gentle way of letting them know how it should be pronounced without specifically telling them they're wrong. I would appreciate it if this was done to me, because I get really embarrassed when I've pronounced something wrong all. day. long. and no one bothered to tell me.

However, my husband was with me once when I did this form of "correction", and he mentioned that it would be less embarrassing to the visitor if I simply avoided saying the name of the object or continued to pronounce it the (incorrect) way that the visitor did. I disagree with the idea that I should deliberately pronounce it wrong, but I wanted to ask a larger audience.

What is the best approach? Should I continue just saying things properly when I say them? Should I gently tell the visitor "Actually, it's pronounced like this"? Or should I say nothing at all and try to avoid using the mis-pronounced word?

kherbert05

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 07:28:45 AM »
As someone who is going to pronounce words phonetically in situations like you describe I don't have problem with your "correction". I would then try to pronounce it the correct way. I would expect you to use the word and pronounce it correctly for the rest of the conversation. I wouldn't be offended at you avoiding the word - but I would feel like I had made things difficult.


The problem I would have is being repeated pointedly corrected in a way that stops the conversation and makes me feel the fool. Example I have a cousin Liam (who I've only met online because we live far apart and our trips "home" to PEI have never been at the same time).


Some of our younger PEI cousins took offense at how Sis and I pronounce Liam. They kept correcting us and demanding we repeat after them. Their parents heard and put a stop to it and the general "They must be stupid if they can't say it right attitude" Thing was we weren't misprouncing the name - we were saying it with a Texas Draw rather than a Maritine accent.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 07:56:27 AM »
I really like the OP's way of dealing with the situation! I think anyone who becomes upset to learn they have mispronounced a foreign word while in that foreign country is SS.  I can see becoming upset if rudely corrected, for example, "you moron, it's ______, if you can't say it right get on a plane home."  But it shouldn't be humiliating or hurtful at all to gently be informed your guess at pronunciation isn't right.

fountainof

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 08:19:57 AM »
I think the OPs type of correcting is fine.  I agree with another poster that if it the main pronounciation difference is just an accent I wouldn't push it too much.  For example, I have francaphone relatives and they named their son a name that is common in many nationalities and they say it a french way.  To say it the french way I would have to put on an accent.  My mother corrects me all the time and finally I got tired of it and made a sort of rude comment.  Sorry but the name is common in other nationalities and I am pronouncing it right I just an not speaking it with a French accent which is not the same. 

Tea Drinker

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 09:42:01 AM »
If it was me, I would much rather have a friend or relative gently correct my pronunciation of a landmark or street, than embarrass myself in front of a less-forgiving stranger and/or fail to communicate. If I'm with a friend and mispronounce the name of the place we have agreed to visit--we might have said "let's go to the art museum" or "that restaurant your father recommended"--my friend will know what I mean and can clarify it the way the OP described. That spares me getting a blank look from a hotel clerk when I ask for a restaurant or monument whose name I've only seen written down, and hopelessly mangle it because the vowels are all different and consonants that would be pronounced in English are silent in French. (I'm not offended by blank looks from hotel clerks, but all they convey is "I don't understand you," not "go two blocks and turn right, and then you can have a good lunch.")
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Carotte

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 09:50:39 AM »
Sorry but the name is common in other nationalities and I am pronouncing it right I just an not speaking it with a French accent which is not the same.

My brother has a quite common name too, Matthieu (in french) is all over the place as Matthew or Mattheus and it never bothered him when in another country or while speaking to someone foreign if they pronounced it 'their' way.

Cami

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 10:46:11 AM »
Speaking only for myself, I'd much rather you gently correct me and help me practice saying it correctly.

If you simply use the correct pronunciation in a sentence later on, I might not catch it and I certainly will not remember how to say it properly later because I haven't practiced it.  If, however, you were to say, "As a FYI, the correct pronunciation is XYZ" then I could say, "XYZ. XYZ. XYZ" over and over and master it. 

So I guess the question is -- what is the point of your correction? Do you want them to say it correctly themselves or just know the correct pronunication for a moment in time?

Melle

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 10:50:14 AM »
I go by my nickname in real life and it's very rare that someone not from my home pronounces it the way it's intended. But I don't correct people on it; I kind of like it when it has a "foreign touch" ;)

As far as my own pronunciation, I think I personally would like to be corrected. I kind of like menley's way, but any way that's not outright patronizing in tone will do for me.

Zilla

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 10:56:54 AM »
It's not offensive, but I would definitely prefer a more direct correction.  Especially while visiting.  I would like to hear, "Yep, it's coming up and just a heads up, it's pronounced this way."  I would cheerfully thank you and practice it silently in my head. 

bah12

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 11:04:14 AM »
I wouldn't avoid the name or continue to pronounce it incorrectly.

At the same time, I'm not sure that I'd immediately emphasize the correct pronunceation either.  For example:

""Oh, are we at <incorrectly pronounced public monument> yet?"
 "No, not yet, but you should soon see it coming up soon on the right." 

Then later,

"<correctly pronounced public monument> is visited by over 250 million people each year and is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world."

Now, for me personally, I would much rather someone just correct me directly.  The correct pronounciation is this.  And I'm not sure exactly how to say this, but it seems that the immediate and indirect route is more passive-aggressive (that's not really the right word though) and draws more negative attention to the mistake. 

Lynn2000

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 11:30:24 AM »
I think the OP's way of correcting things is fine. I think it would also be okay to be more direct about it. And I think it's just silly to pronounce something incorrectly, so others won't realize they've pronounced it incorrectly.

I would say, just make the correction natural. I mean, surely in the car on the way to the monument isn't the first time the monument's name has been said. Surely there's a point when you're discussing plans for the day, or the next day, and they say, "We'd like to go see <incorrect>." And then you could go, "Oh, <correct>. Yes, that's a great place to visit." And then every time you happen to say the name, you say it correctly; and if they can't or won't attempt to say it correctly in return, so be it.

If they're the sort to be offended by the suggestion that they don't do everything perfectly, I think there are bigger problems.

But, if they're getting everything wrong, maybe be judicious about which things you repeat correctly, and avoid repeating the rest. Museum they're going to be spending hours at? Worth correcting. Random street they're passing and won't pass again? Probably not worth correcting. My parents went on a trip to Hawaii and my mom had a terrible time with the local names. Someone who corrected every single thing, even in a polite way, would probably just have confused and stressed her. But, she would have appreciated hearing the correct names for major stops, even if she couldn't actually say them herself.
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NyaChan

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2013, 12:31:00 PM »
I had a waitress do that to me once in an ethnic restaurant - only thing was that she was wrong   ::)  All it ended up doing was making me feel uncomfortable because it felt like she was telling the whole table that I was wrong, when I knew I wasn't, but couldn't correct her back.  So basically, as long as you are right, it wouldn't bother me to have the correct way dropped into conversation, but honestly, a more direct correction would be more effective if you think it is something they'll actually need to know in the future.

Auntie Mame

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2013, 12:56:20 PM »
I lived overseas for two years, I was very grateful when people corrected my pronunciation.  I would much rather be corrected discreetly than embarrass myself publicly.  I think the way you handled it was just fine. 
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menley

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2013, 01:15:03 PM »
But, if they're getting everything wrong, maybe be judicious about which things you repeat correctly, and avoid repeating the rest. Museum they're going to be spending hours at? Worth correcting. Random street they're passing and won't pass again? Probably not worth correcting. My parents went on a trip to Hawaii and my mom had a terrible time with the local names. Someone who corrected every single thing, even in a polite way, would probably just have confused and stressed her. But, she would have appreciated hearing the correct names for major stops, even if she couldn't actually say them herself.

Lynn, that's a good point and one of the reasons I switched to just saying it correctly myself rather than correcting someone. I realized I was constantly saying "Actually, it's pronounced like this" and I was even irritating myself, much less everyone else :)  I probably need to just consider the audience and tailor my response to them.

bansidhe

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Re: Correcting Others
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 01:36:43 PM »
What is the best approach? Should I continue just saying things properly when I say them? Should I gently tell the visitor "Actually, it's pronounced like this"? Or should I say nothing at all and try to avoid using the mis-pronounced word?

I think your approach is fine; however, don't be surprised if a large number of people continue to mispronounce the word. I've noticed that lots and lots of people just don't pick up on this approach at all. I'm not sure why, but they don't. For that reason a more direct approach might work better.
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