Pronunciation

On a YouTube channel I watch, the person who made a video mispronounced the word “Hitachi”.  He pronounced it “Hai-TA-chi”.  I posted a helpful comment telling him the correct way to pronounce it.

Someone “took me to task” for correcting his pronunciation, with the rationalization “we aren’t Japanese”.  Of course, he devolved to calling me stupid in a roundabout way, so I ended the chat  But I’m going to explore that here.

He’s right about one fact:  we aren’t Japanese.  But that’s not important.  I think there are circumstances where it is okay to take a word from another language and change its pronunciation.  Say, for example, that the word contains a sound that does not exist in the “loanee” language.  Then it’s perfectly reasonable to alter the word so that it is easier to pronounce.  That is even more true if the meaning of the word changes significantly.

But there are some circumstances where I think that is not appropriate.  Specifically, proper names.  If you are going to say someone’s name, I think you should make an effort to pronounce it correctly.  Of course, the problem of the sound not existing is still extant, but otherwise, one should at least make an effort.  Because one’s name is one’s name, and it’s a sign of respect to pronounce it properly.

So, I think the commenter (setting aside their thinly veiled attempts at insults) was incorrect.  It’s pronounced “hee-ta-chi”, should be pronounced that way, and those who do not should be gently corrected.

This is why when I say, for example, “Takahashi Minami”, I first of all always say it with the given name first, and I always try to pronounce it the way a native speaker would (as close as I can get, anyway).  It’s just a matter of respect.  I’ll even add “san” when appropriate.  It is, to me, rather jarring when I read articles that try to “westernize” Japanese names.  It never feels right to me.

I will also attempt to say “kawaii” correctly, even if I’m using it as an English loanword (which it is now!).  It is not pronounced like “Hawaii”.  But I will not say the Japanese pronunciation of “typhoon” (taifu) because it is not only a loanword but has been significantly altered to the point where “typhoon” is actually an English word, and that is its correct pronunciation.

Apparently, some people believe that it is never appropriate to correct one’s pronunciation.

They can then ignore me.

I will not stop because they don’t like it.

So there.

Japanese Food and Stores in Austin, part 3.

I had some errands to run this morning up in Cedar Park.  On my way back, I decided to stop at Lakeline Mall to see what they had to offer.  I was not disappointed.

However, I was indeed disappointed by their “Japanese” fast food restaurant in the food court.  It was kinda sorta Japanese food, but just barely.  I had a chicken bento, and while nothing in it was particularly bad, it was just not of any quality at all.  Basically, Japanese food of mall quality.  I’ll pass.

So after that, I decided to take a walk through the concourses.  I found a “pokemaniac” store, with lots and lots of pokemon paraphernalia.  I bought a little pokeball plush. I found a store called “Cool and Eclectic” – which lived up to its name.  Very few specifically asian items, but there were a few racks of plushes, where I’m sure you could find something of interest if you looked.

But the mother lode was a store on the other side of the mall, on the first level, called “Gift World“.  There were figurines – actual anime figurines.  There were plushes – whole racks of plushes.  Shelves of Japanese gifts.  And a couple of racks of kimono-style robes that were quite beautiful, I thought.  There were so many kawaii things that I could barely choose which one I wanted – I finally settled on a hamster holding a little waffle.  And I bought a royal blue kimono-style robe.

This is a place that never showed up on any google searches, and I would have walked right past it if they hadn’t had the kanji in the window.  If you are at all a fan of Japanese gifts and trinkets, this is a must-see stop in Austin.