Etymology aside. So you know a story behind the roots of a word or you know the meaning of the same word in another language. It’s so subtle and odd and interesting. It’s hidden from so many eyes. Nail an alternative meaning to a word, load it with sentiment and then put it in a joke. So good that it doesn’t matter if anyone else got it. (Nobody asks you to explain a joke).

I’m worried though. Correct someone when they say it wrong - it’s precious, you’ve worked hard on it! And how far are you ready to go? I use words and don’t pronounce them good. I branch out and stumble in the process. I’m not ready to pronounce a type of pasta in Italian. I’m clinging to the bastardised form.

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Aren't anthropologists, professionally speaking, the bores who always want to explain the joke, ruining it for everyone else?

Thanks John. I was going for the way that British people pronounce for example French words in the way that a French person might when really there are so many cross-overs (and bastardised forms that have been taken on, etc) between the two languages that it's hard to know when to stop. I thought touché  was a good example. I mentioned Gnocchi in Italian because I don't know the correct  pronunciation and didn't think I was prepared to learn and instead would stay with how we say it in the UK.

It's always interesting to watch the ways that a new football player's name (or new politician's name) gets pronounced by commentators. They often haven't checked what the player calls himself and say the name as it reads to them. A few matches in, and the commentator does his research.... he talks to the player and finds out that it is really hard for a Brit (or whoever) to pronounce his name because we don't have the same vowell sounds. The commentator will try to pronounce it as it should be pronounced but it's probably still a slightly changed version. Eventually people in the media form a consensus on how it should be pronounced and only someone like David Pleat gets left behind: "Lirazaru"!!!! Having said that, I still remember times when commentators reach a consensus only for the pronunciation to be completely changed again.

I guess the bigger point is that you can spend a lifetime learning as many foreign languages and different meanings of words as possible but a bastardised form can have the same complexity.

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