Thursday, March 27, 2003

Language Note: Since the beginning of the war, I've noticed that some of "our" reporters have aped their BBC colleagues by saying that so-and-so hasn't "taken that decision yet" and other similar constructions. I've always been of the impression that Americans "make" decisions, while Brits "take" them. Is this just fancy-pantsing by our wannabe-sophisticate press corps? Likewise, there is this issue over the pronunciation of th country name "Qatar." I've always said "kuh-TAR." It's not right, but it's clearly the standard westernized pronunciation. MSNBC has instructed its correspondents to say "CUT-ter" like the name of a ship. Now, I can pronounce the name as the Arabs do, and it isn't pronounced "CUT-ter." (If you do a good, throat-clearing German "ch" [let's call it "#"] sound while pronouncing "HOT-ter" you can come right close.) This is all neither here nor there, but I've noticed that many of these "CUT-ter" folks still say "eye-RACK" rather than "ee-RAH#" and "BAG-dad" rather than "bah#-DAHD." It reminds me of the people who insist on pronouncing Johann Sebastian Bach as "BA#," but still say Vincent van Gogh as "van GO" and wouldn't think of saying "vahn GO#." I think both "BAHK" and "van GO" are both fine, by the way. I just hate it when people get persnickety about one but not the other, like with Qatar and Iraq. Am I being an ass?

More: Nordlinger had a funny column on this at National Review last year, and he was particularly cheesed off at media types talking about the Olympics in "Torino" (i.e., Turin). Plus, he (kind of) backs me up on Van Gogh, and he should know.

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