Saturday, November 10, 2007

Silliness over pronunciation

It would have to be Waikato University putting up such a display of preciousness. They want 'Waikato' pronounced properly. Not Why Cat O. It has to be Why Car Tore or Why Cut Or.

What stupidity. People can and will pronounce words how they want to. We all know what we are talking about. The fact that Maori words have to be turned into recognisable English words so we can pronounce them 'properly' makes the exercise even sillier.

These demands for correctness just make people self-conscious about using Maori words and they are more likely to avoid them. More populous countries have dialects, England being a prime example. There is no pressure for a Yorkshireman to speak his vowels like a Cornishman. The difference is important and interesting.

Anyway, I thought we embraced 'multiculturalism' in this country. Doesn't that include accepting various pronunciations? It's OK for different tribes to have different pronunciations but not Pakeha. What bull.


KG said...

Hardly surprising, since universities are such festering sinkholes of PC speech and "thought".
I absolutely refuse to join the current maori-pronunciation fashion, until they show my culture as much respect as they expect theirs to be given.

Berend de Boer said...

I disagree. Maori is an official language of this country and it's time the English learn to pronounce it correctly. They mangle every word of every other language, it doesn't hurt to put a bit of effort into pronouncing words correctly.

KG said...

"They mangle every word of every other language.."
As do people of every nationality.
Having Maori as an official language is stupid, expensive and pointless in any case.Of what use is it out in the real world?
We have kids leaving school barely able to write their own names, yet money and effort is spent on teaching the Maori language. The cost of printing pamphlets and having dual-language signage in hospitals etc must be immense.
What benefits has Maori culture brought to either Maori or Kiwis of European and Asian descent in any case?
When they stop killing their kids and behaving like thugs I'll make an effort to pronounce Maori place names and I don't expect to have to make that effort any time soon.

Rick said...

You lost me at "official" BdB. A free country needs state-sanctioned language like it needs state-minted money or a chicken needs a fox!

Waikado University can shove it.

Reminds me of once being told not to sit on a desk at school. It might upset a Maori because it's not their way. "What about my way," I said?

We've got to remember that we Angs have something called culture too, and that includes Anglosised versions of foriegn language words.

Linda Reid said...

There was no Maori written language. Therefore all Maori words were written down phonetically by the missionaries - they wrote down what they heard. For example, if they had heard an 'F' sound at the start of Whangarei they would have spelled it Fangarei. If Taupo was heard Topo, they would have spelled it like that. I can't understand why the pronunciation has changed so dramatically in the last 200 years.

luggage79 said...

There was a talk at the last NWAVE (conference in linguistics) which centered around the fact that you could tell a Republican from a Democrat by the way the pronounced "Iraq". The Republicans have obviously switched to the dipthong in "like" for the first vowel (I) and an open "a" as in "sand" for the second vowel (a). Funny, ey? And completely, utterly pointless...

The Tomahawk Kid said...

My boss recently pulled me up on the same pronunciation.

I told her that I would make an effort to to say it correctly if she would make the same effort to pronounce her NAME correctly!

you see, her name is Nadderly, and she operates a compuder over in Rodorua!

Sus said...

Linda: your point is interesting. Those 19th century missionaries were meticulous in their recording of Maori language. They were the same missionaries who did the same work in other Pacific islands.

Which brings me to the pronunciation of 'F' for 'Wh' in Maori. Why are there Fatiolofas and Faumuinas in the islands and Whangarei and whanau here, when it's the same sound?

Because it wasn't. The Victorians clearly differentiated between 'wh' and 'w', eg where and wear. My paternal grandmother born down south in 1906 always made the distinction. It's become lost over the years.

When Tariana Turia says 'whanau' as in 'whisper', as opposed to fahno, I believe she's correct.

(It's one of the few times I find myself in agreement with her!)

My maternal grandmother and her siblings were born at the foot of Mt Egmont. Their Maori classmates always pronounced whare with the soft wh.

Vowel sounds, however, distinguish accent from accent and do tend to be bastardised. The 'au' in Taupo and Tauranga *is* generally mispronounced. Technically, it's the same as 'au pair' - a long o-sound.

Having said that, I'm the first to roll my eyes at Waikato University's comments. They're precious to the max, chock full of state-worshippers and give me a gutsache.

Screw them. Go Why-cat-oh!

Anonymous said...

So what is it to be?

Maaary, or Mouldy?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Quite right about the pronunciation of "wh". Check out the Williams Maori dictionary for an explanation on this consonent. It is NOT pronounced as F! (Or at least it shouldn't be)

I am amazed by the hypocrisy. When I learnt Maori in school I was taught that kura meant school, tarakihana was tractor, miraka = milk, Akarana = Auckland, morena = morning.

These are all examples of pronouncing an English word with a Maori accent. These words are still all used, but do you see anyone demanding that they be pronounced correctly and in their original form? Of course not, and rightly so. It is natural for languages to borrow words from other languages and adopt them. Hence I always when speaking English pronounce maori place names with an English accent, and when speaking Maori I pronounce english names and words with a Maori accent.

We have borrowed maori words such as "biddi bid" (piripiri), "tie ho" (taihoa), and of course Waikato, and we have made them compatible with the flow, accent and pronunciation of English.

It is as ridiculous as expecting English speakers to pronounce "Paris", or "Brazil", or "Spain" correctly when speaking English. Come off it!

I actually gave up learning to speak NZ Maori and took up Cook Islands Maori, which is actual true maori, unlike the bastardized language spoken and taught today which in the most part bears no resemblance to true NZ maori.

It is well klnown amoungst academics that the variety of "maori" spoken today is totally unlike the true classic maori language, and is in fact often referred to as "University Maori".

The Maori language of the Cook Islands was once mutually intelligible for the most part with NZ Maori, I have met numerous C I Maoris who used to converse with elderly NZ Maoris in the 70's. They each spoke their respective dialect and communicated no trouble. This no longer happens, and in fact C I Maori's struggle to follow most speakers on Maori TV with the exception of the very old, or very old re-runs from programmes such as Koha.

I myself can follow these speakers, the modern speakers have such terrible accents I usually have to switch channels!

I recently wandered around Te papa and was astonished at the plethora of poorly translated signs and exhibit titles. I see this everyday when the Maori ranslation bears little resemblance to the english version.

Rather than worry about how europeans pronounce "Waikato" the university should try and revive the true Maori language, and attempt to stampt out this bastardized confused pigeon English which is spoken today...

This will of course never happen, we live in a world where C I Maori is regarded as a "banana language". Most people in this country do not even know that a C I Maori calls himself a maori, and will tell you he speaks maori also. This will usually be met with disbelief or even derision by NZ Maoris. Yet the Cook Islands are full of people for whom true Maori is a 1st language. Their true knowledge and understanding of the maori language could and should be utilised. But of course it won't be.

I challenge so called fluent NZ Maori speakers to meet up with a C I Maori and attempt to follow his speech - I am willing to bet that you will fail - which should prove the language being taught is a total farce. Don't forget Captain Cook brought a TAHITIAN to NZ to converse with locals, which he did without difficulty, Tahitian being a language FAR more removed from NZ Maori than C I Maori is. Explain that fact away!

I can't wait to go back to a place where if you speak English and say you're off to "Rah roh" the locals will smile and wish you well rather than jumping down your throat for daring to mis pronounce a place name!

In fact a fluent Maori speaker will often mis pronounce Maori words and place names when speaking English... and in all honesty, who cares?!

If in doubt feel free to buy a copy of Williams dictionary and take it to a so called fluent Maori speaker, very few will use Williams as a reference since the language is considered to "old" to be able to be understood!! Yet this dictionary first started to be compiled prior to 1840!!

I have used it to revive lost Maori words - who knew that "maniania" means "noisy", and can be used just as "tureture" is to ask someone to be quiet?

Say it to a NZ Maori and he will not have a clue what you just said, say it to a C I Maori and he'll understand perfectly well...yet it's a NZ MAori word listed in Williams...go figure...the list goes on and on and on trust me...

farQ said...

I never thought id read such b.s from a blog full of ignorant people.

And you all are educated??!!!

No wonder majority of kids leaving school are maori, who would want to be educated in a system that spits out hags and gags with such close minded opinions like you all!

Until descendants of early colonial land grabbers (which i suspect are most of you) acknowledge that making up laws and "laying the pillow flat for a dying race" didnt quite end how they wanted (because Maori are VERY much still alive).. therefore are our names.

Get use to it.

Anonymous said...

FARQ is the ignorant one I am afraid. The term is "Get USED to it". Learn to write English as you should not as you speak.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay Mitchell - grow up. Those prompts were put there to "help" you not to "belittle you" a polite way in which to help you to pronounce the official language of this land correctly.

You are making a mountain out of a mole hill - what a crock. Yorkshire and Cornwall? Oh please woman - your ignorance amuses me - THEY ARE SPEAKING ENGLISH not Maori - where are you coming from with this?????

Self concious about using Maori words? Pronounce it PROPERLY using the idiot proof method that is on offer i.e WHY CUT OR and revel in your ability to pronounce the language correctly. Honestly - your anxt astounds me. Learn to turn the negative into a positive woman because views like yours are destructive, tedious and down right NASTY.
Mauri ora (or in your case)


(from a New Zealand PAR CARE HAR)

Anonymous said...

Actuall after having read some of your previous blogs I'm beginning to see a pattern - how about you quit your whinging and whining and focus your attentions on bringing about positive, respectful, intelligent, relevant and achievable solutions to the myriad of problems that seem to cause you concern instead of venting BS left right and centre. Very uncool Lindsay - Sad

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of ignorant waffle on this board from people who have little or no respect for the Maori culture - point being that the treaty of Waitangi DICTATES baby that you WILL respect the FIRST language of this land and you WILL put up with our culture here in your face and should you choose not to then hey - life sure is gonna be miserable for you ain't it cos Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga is here to stay. As for that Wally rambling on about Cook Island Maori - crikeys - I taught Cook Island Maori children and as a fluent speaker of te reo was able to communicate effectively with their father during student interviews - he could barely speak English - that's your theory down the drain darling. The rest of you know it alls - I communicate fluently in your English language, Samoan, Cook Island and my Maori Reo, my children speak Maori, English, Samoan and Japanese - and you are all crying over having to pronounce WAIKATO correctly - small things amuse SMALL minds - get a life

Anonymous said...

I can't believe what I'm hearing! I'm a fluent speaker of Te Reo, but English is my first language. Genuinely trying to pronounce Maori words correctly is a mark of respect. Do non-Maori not respect us enough to even try?

I work in education and struggle with Afrikana names. But at least I make the effort to ask them how it is pronounced correctly. I don't have a problem with mispronounciation; I have a problem with not caring how to pronounce words and particularly names correctly.

@ KG - Show your culture enough respect? We showed your ancestors enough respect that we were willing to live in harmony with them on this land. It was your ancestors who showed disrespect by not honouring a mutually signed agreement.

@ KG again - Killing our kids and behaving like thugs? That sounds like a generalisation, which makes you sound ignorant. Racial stereotypes? And you expect to be taken seriously? C'mon KG. You can do better than that -_-

The Maori language is part of our identity. When I see Richie McCaw leading the haka, and performing just as hard (sometimes harder!) than every other Maori All Black in the team, it makes me so proud. When I see our non-Maori athletes singing both the Maori and English national anthems, I get a tiny thrill. I see myself and my culture reflected in them.

Te Reo Maori makes us unique from any other British colony. Without it, we'd just be.......England Jr or Austarlia Jr. We are NOT! We are Kiwis!

All I can say is give it a go, and do your best. We don't expect you to get it right every time; we just hope you'll try :)

Anonymous said...

What do you mean what use is it in the real world? I have a degree in te reo in the real world and a job that my multi cultural knowledge and correct pronunciation of languages helped me get there. It is not true that everyone pronounces other languages wrog, just ignorant pakeha and single language learners who struggle with it. Br there is a difference between the two. A huge difference. My name is tarere. Ive come across irishman who pronounce it better than pakeha. It sux that even in y iwn country people. Ant pronounce my name, yet in america someone who has never even heard of the maori language who is corrected once wih an open mind is able to articulate my name properly. What if i purposely decided to say your name wrong? It would piss you off if on a daily basis you bad to respond to an incorrect pronunciation of your name. Yet we Maori still get speak english properly. Whats the big deal with being corrected and making a small effort to try and say my name or the name waikato correctly? Its just so sad what this country is coming to. We are so narrow minded, im ashamed for our country. Think twice about this because it affects me too. Every single day

Anonymous said...

And another thing. We dont have different prononciations we have different dialects. Big difference