Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why change Proper Nouns?


Apropos to several opinions on "Pastagate", it is hard to understand why OQLF should  express dissatisfaction at the names of items in a Restaurant Menu.

There exists a province in India that speaks Tamizh which is referred to as "Tamil" in English and "Tamoul" in French. When the name of the language itself is not pronounced correctly in English as well as French, one would shudder to think of how the words "Vatha kozhambu" or "Vazhaikkai Paruppuusali" would have to be reworded in a menu to suit the OQLF. In fact, it is even hard to explain in English or French how to pronounce the "zh" in both the words. Such is the nuance of Tamil and possibly every language.

Any translation would seem like an instant dilution to the taste of the dish and would take more than a generation for people to get accustomed and map the new word for the original correctly. For example, a Tamil speaker would nod his head in disapproval if Vatha Kozhambu is called a "tangy gravy dish" or Vazhaikkai Paruppusali "raw banana lentil curry".

For all practical purposes, it seems natural to me to call a "Hot Dog" a "Hot Dog", "Vatha Kozhambu" "Vatha Kozhambu" or "poutine" "poutine". Respect for a proper noun would result in return of respect.

One sure understands from a safety point of view, "Sortie" and "Tirez" are necessary in Quebec.

1 comment:

Julia Robert said...

Thanks for sharing this nice post. Proper nouns are one of the most essential parts of the English language, so Learn proper nouns to improve English Language skills.