There are a couple of events in the past couple weeks about which we've said nothing, and while I still haven't figured out how I feel about the administration's new lawyer-shooting policy, I will contribute some words (though few original thoughts) to the Olympics, in particular this Anglosphere habit of trying to readopt foreign place names into English when English already has its own names for those places.
Monday, February 20, 2006 :::
The Olympics are taking place in Turin, where the locals speak Italian, in which language the place is called "Turino", which thus pervades much of the media. The Wall Street Journal seems to be referring to the Turino olympics, while giving the byline as Turin. (I think that's what I saw; Steve, let us know if I'm remembering that incorrectly.) It's been noted that Americans don't pronounce Paris the way Parisians do, unless they mean to be a bit flip; I would add to that the wisdom of junior high, whose practitioners have not yet been polluted by exposure to sophistry, and in which anyone who did pronounce "Paris" in French in a serious way would be beaten up at recess. This is what holds society together, and should be extolled.
A week ago I was in Chicago, and found myself dancing with a Spanish woman who spoke even less English than I speak Spanish.* She said she was returning to Spain on Thursday, and I told her I live in "Nueva York", and was going there the next day. Thing is, I don't know whether it's "Nueva York" or "Nuevo York"; still, while speaking Spanish, it seems more fair to me to butcher the Spanish version than to try to jump to English for the duration of the proper noun.
I don't see this as something to get too worked up about, really, and for places that aren't commonly known in English-speaking areas, it makes sense that we should try to adopt, as nearly as possible, the local names. In both situations, it's largely a matter of convenience. Turin is well-known, and it's more convenient only to have to know it by its well-known name. So if you see Katie Couric, tell her to meet me by the jungle gym.
*I mention this mostly, of course, to indicate that my life is cooler and more exciting than yours.
::: posted by dWj at 4:08 PM