Sunday, February 14, 2010

Won't Miss #125 - having my English "corrected"

When I have a conversation in English with a Japanese person, I pronounce Japanese words that are frequently pronounced differently in English in the Japanese way. For instance, I properly pronounce things like "karaoke" and "Nikon" which are said as "carry-okey" and "Nigh-con" in English. However, I say English names and words in the way they are properly spoken in English, not in some Japanized katakana manner because the origin of those words is not Japanese (and we're speaking English, not Japanese - if we're speaking Japanese, I say them the Japanese way). Occasionally, I will say something like "Costco" and the Japanese person I'm speaking to will look at me strangely and say, "oh, "Ko-su-to-ko" in a way which indicates that they would have understood me if I'd said it properly in the first place. This is something which is driven home by their repeated refusal to use English pronunciation throughout the remainder of the discussion of the topic (despite my correcting them when it is an English lesson).

Similarly, I've had experiences with Japanese people in positions of authority at my former office when we were writing English textbooks and they would insist on using incorrect grammar or words because that's what someone in the Japanese school system taught them eons ago and the bad grammar was permanently petrified in their brains as "correct". We always ended up using the improper English in such cases as the correct English as offered by my Australian boss and my American self were not trusted.

I find it irksome to be "corrected" in my own language because people refuse to accept the way the words are presented and arranged in countries where English is spoken as a native language.