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Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

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Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby kentaku_sama » Mon 03.29.2010 6:02 pm

Sometimes I'll have to say an english word in a japanese sentence and most times this is difficult.
If I say something like :我はSpamを食べたい。 I can say it fine but when I say Spam I say something like spom instead of spam. It seems difficult to say two languages perfectly pronounced in one sentence. Can anyone else do this better? I heard a girl at a chinese restaurant say "Lastweek, ...Some chinese I don't know..." And said both fine, then again she speaks english and chinese natively.
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Re: Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby chikara » Mon 03.29.2010 6:06 pm

kentaku_sama wrote:..... If I say something like :我はSpamを食べたい。 I can say it fine but when I say Spam I say something like spom instead of spam. ......

Shouldn't you say "supamu" (スパム)? :)
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Re: Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby JaySee » Mon 03.29.2010 7:06 pm

While you're at it, replace 我は with 私は (or leave it out altogether), and を with が :P

And Chikara is right, it is important to remember that loan words from English in Japanese are not English anymore, and therefore shouldn't be pronounced that way. Instead, stick to the proper Japanese 'katakana' pronunciation (スパム in this case), as odd or unnatural as it may sometimes sound to native speakers of English.
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Re: Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby furrykef » Mon 03.29.2010 9:54 pm

Yeah, in a sentence like that, you probably shouldn't use the English pronunciation of "spam", but I can imagine in some contexts it might be desirable to switch pronunciation.

The effect can be rather bizarre, though. I've always found this commercial a bit odd -- listen at 0:15. It's OK if you don't know Spanish; in fact, the effect seems even stranger in that case. It sounds like "holasoyjuliocedillohablandopor Children International" -- the English just sticks out so much.

Funny enough, the English version of that commercial (featuring the same guy speaking; he's probably natively bilingual) features the same thing: flawless American accent, but says "Alejandra" and "Julio Cedillo" in a Spanish accent.
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Re: Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby spin13 » Tue 03.30.2010 9:36 pm

kentaku_sama wrote:Sometimes I'll have to say an english word in a japanese sentence and most times this is difficult.

For many people who are not native speakers of two or more languages it is often difficult to code-switch smoothly, but as the level of your weaker language improves it should become easier. Even non-native speakers can reach the level where entire conversations are done in a wild mix of two languages, often to the point where the conversation is completely unintelligible to people who only speak one or the other.

For a word like "spam," which has a katakana equivalent, there is no need to code-switch, but some things, like names, can and sometimes should be pronounced as in their native language.

As a slight aside, when I make formal introductions in Japanese - often in front of groups - I almost always pronounce my full name as I would in English, 「アメリカから参りました、Eric <last name>と申します」. Not only does it give the listeners a chance to hear my native name, which helps in establishing which is my given and which is my family name, but it sets up a little tension because there is always somebody who didn't quite catch it or doesn't think they can pronounce my family name. A follow up of 「是非、エリックとお呼び下さい」 results in sighs of relieve and a few chuckles, dissolving the tension and giving me a little extra leeway should I need to ask their names more than once.
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Re: Why is it difficult to switch languages midstream?

Postby AJBryant » Wed 03.31.2010 1:30 pm

I've been lucky.

My name -- Tony -- is perfectly cross-compatible with Japanese pronunciation standards. No funky closed syllables, no need for a rolled R, no difficult L or TH sounds.

Of course, I had to be willing to take the "hit" and have people use my first name instead of my last name, which *is* a bit of a nightmare in katakanization.


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