Thursday, May 10, 2007

You say Goggle, I say Google

Someone called me yesterday asking for the number for Bonsai Japanese restaurant in Lagos. I think they confused the number on Lagos Live (which they used to find the restaurant) with the number for the restaurant (we don't have their number). Trying to unravel the confusion, I asked him where he got my number from. He said he got it from 'goggle'. I pointed out to him that it is called 'google' not 'goggle'. He seemed a little put out. 'Well we call it goggle in Nigeria.' I replied (somewhat curtly, the dude was wasting my time) 'well then Nigerians are simply pronouncing it wrong.' We exchanged pleasantries and that was that.

I reflected today on African Shirts' comment about Orji Kalu on Hard Talk recently referring to 'goggle erdt' (Google Earth). Then I reflected that Palm Grove in Lagos is pronounced Palm 'Groove'. Is there then a confusion some speakers here have between 'oo' and 'o' sounding words, such that 'oo' words (as in Google) are pronounced with an 'o' sound, and 'o' words (like Grove) are pronounced with an 'oo' sound? Where does this double confusion come from?


St Antonym,  7:51 pm  

Abeg o. It's Palm Groove. Argue about anything else, but Palm Groove is Palm Groove.

Anonymous,  8:12 pm  

i say 'let's call the whole thing off'....

Jeremy 8:16 pm  

But its spelt Palm Grove. Have you not noticed whenever something is spelt Grove it is pronounced groove?

St Antonym,  8:58 pm  

I don't care. I grew up there, on Sipeolu Street which runs parallel to Ikorodu Road, and it's called Palm Groove.

The groves of Arcadia, the groves of Academe, what have you, they are as they are. But Palm Grooooove is simply Palm Grooooove.

Abi you want us to start calling An-TO-ny busstop AN-thony? "Conductor, I'm going to AN-thony?" "Ehn, you dey go where?"

Jeremy 9:31 pm  

Friend. I know its called Palm Groove. But agree with me that when written down, it is spelt Palm Grove. Nigerians tend to pronounce the word grove as groove. In a way, Nigerians are only being as idiosyncratic with the English language as the English themselves. There is something about the polyglottal hybridity of the English language that tends to breed non-phoneticisms wherever it plants itself. Local example: near my village is another called Brewood. You would think that people would therefore call this place bree-wood. In fact, it is pronounced 'brude' or 'brood'.

St Antonym,  9:36 pm  

Oh of course it's spelt Palm Grove. Since when has the spelling of a word concerned anyone in Naija?

But, as you say, each place has its own idiosyncrasies. In time, there will be a dictionary of Nigerian English (and I don't mean pidgin), and our mid-Atlantic Africa-inflected tongue will get its due.

The independent monkeys 10:44 pm  

Where does this double confusion come from?

Let me try using the following example, the word Palm Groove

Ok, assuming you cannot read any English but have heard the above word, how would u pronounce it, assuming u were a Yoruba bus conductor?

Conversely, it would be impossible for anyone who can write in English to write out that Yoruba bus conductors' pronunciation?

Simply impossible...

The problem: Yoruba phonetics is underdeveloped

So much work that needs to be done.

btw: i miss African Shirts

omo-obanta 10:46 pm  

lol. your people came and handed us a language and we are at liberty to do as we wish with it. its unfortunate but that's the way of it. In any case as you so rightly mentioned things have interesting pronunciations in England as well. Leicester for example...

jadedjune 11:02 pm  

well i used to live on tinubu st in palm grove....and i got tired of correcting people about the pronounciation......cos when i did , i got people telling me to shut up and stop trying to be "oyibo"...
i guess u cant please everyone ;-)

Lolita 6:29 am  

Hey, Jeremy, pronounce this word: "Prove".

Anonymous,  8:06 am  

I think the most important thing is for literate speakers to know the difference and modify accordingly when they are addressing a local and global audience. Whenever I try to ask for directions for Palm Grove they tell me that there is no such place. But the moment I say Palm Groove they say 'why don't you say that in the first place' and they give me the direction immediately. But of course not without telling me that I am miss pronounce it. I actually love the local pronounciation. There is a kind of rhythm to it.

But Oga Jeremy, don't you have work to do for you to be pondering over this things? Or are you one of those under-worked and over-paid expat? You seem to have a lot of free time.

Cee 8:13 am  

"The problem: Yoruba phonetics is underdeveloped"

Before, I go any further: what exactly do you mean by that? Underdeveloped compared to what?

The independent monkeys 9:21 am  

"The problem: Yoruba phonetics is underdeveloped"

what do i mean? did you know it was the Christian Missionaries who lay the foundation of the orthography?

ok, in order for me to explain or demonstrate what I mean, please can you show me how in English would my yoruba conductor girlfriend write "palm grove" if she cannot read English?

Clue think of how she pronounces inú àpótí {inside box} - emphasis on the "p"

now, thinking of that "p", and considering that there are no diphthongs in Yoruba, write palm grove for Jeremy to understand please, will you?

thank you

Cee 10:09 am  

Yes, I aware that the Christian missionaries laid the foundation for the Yoruba orthography ... and have influenced the developments of the written forms of many other languages in the Motherland.

Whose definition of "underdeveloped" are we comparing Yoruba phonetics with? Is such a comparison even right or logical to being with? Who gets to decided what phonetics is developed or not?

Yoruba phonetics is as developed as it can be for a people with oral tradition ... and if true development of the language should be undertaken then it should by the people and not based on English orthography

@ Jeremy

Maybe the double confusion comes from the fact that we all tend to speak/pronounce words from a biased prospective; that is our mother tongue. So my view of what is correct/proper English speaking/pronunciation would differ dramatically from that of a North American living in the south.

ijebuman 10:27 am  

you no sey we no fit speak dat inglis proparly for naija, although i don't see anyone pointing out to the Americans on how they pronounce and spell english words ; - )

@The independent monkeys
rather than arguing about "diphthongs in Yoruba" we should be more concerned about why we still retain these names. I suggest we change them all to Yoruba, so 'palm groove' will be 'ihò ìtëbö igi ope' (or something along those lines) lets see how easy that is for naijablog to pronounce lol

The independent monkeys 10:38 am  

@ cee
Chineke! thats too long for "Palm Grove" lol

the shit has hit the fan


I'm with lolita on this one.

sanya,  3:25 pm  

Yes, Jeremy. Please, pronounce "prove".

Jola Naibi 7:25 pm  

Nice one lolita...@ Jeremy...language is a means of communicating and since the people say when in Rome do as the Romans do...when in Palm Grove pronounce it as Palm Groove like the Palm Grovians say tomayto I say the way we are still waiting for you to pronounce doesn't matter how it is spelt long as you can get your point across and communicate...just like st antonym said...try telling a bus conductor in Lagos that you are going to Anthony not ANTONI

St Antonym,  8:03 pm  

Oga, additionally, we want to hear you pronounce "love" (not like Bob Marley says it o) and "move."

By the way, the word "grove" has no clear Latinate, Greek, or Germanic antecedents. It's as if it sprouted out of the ground by itself.

Ijebuman, I think "igbo ope" would be more like it: not "groove" but "grove" as in a sacred stand of trees.

End of lecture. I troway salute!

(Jeremy's technically right, of course. "Groove" is just bad English. But language evolves, that's what it does).

Jeremy 8:04 pm  

Those that are asking the obvious by asking me to pronounce 'prove' are missing the point of the post. The point was not to poke fun or mock as I'm sure some suspected.

Rather, it is a call to begin the project of mapping Nigerian pronunciation, as a way of validating it as a dialect and as a lexicon.

At present, Nigerians that speak 'phone' with a British public school accent are heavily privileged (in interviews, the business world, in social life) over those with a 'local' accent. Why not challenge this, and stand up for the poetic intricacies of pidgin, waffi etc. In the same way, companies and consultancies that want to shine take to using British English sounding names, rather than indigenous names. Its part of a massively incomplete decolonisation process..

'Gbenga,  8:49 am  

There is no double confusion between the oo and the o sound. Most Nigerians can obviously pronounce 'oodles' 'moon', 'boot' without using the 'o' sound. Most Nigerians will not mix up 'Bootle' and 'Bottle'.

The reason for the (agreed, annoying) mispronounciation of 'google' as goggle is a kind of conceptual confusion/ignorance; (confusion/ignorance is not being used in a pejorative sense here). Rather those Nigerians who mispronounce 'google' being familiar with the much earlier word 'goggle' just make a mental assumption that that is what is meant; they give no thought to the possibility of a new coinage of which they are unaware.

In any case, any one want to compare the American pronounciation of 'Router'? Drives you mad doesn't it?

Another one that drives you mad is in written form when someone writes 'your' instead of 'you're'; example "your not going to eat that".

Well, to each his own poison ......

Nigerian Woman in Norway 10:13 am  

i think the problem arises in how illogical english can be.

and i say that with all fondness.

english is not our first language.

and these anecdotes from jeremy just prove it.

lolita points out that prove and grove are spelt similarly, and pronounced differently.

nigerians just simplify it and pronounce grove as groooove.

when it comes to place names this is allowed.

how many british villages or train stations are pronounced completely differently from the way the name is spelt? too many.

as for google: well pronouncing it as goggle, is just bush and smacks of illiteracy.

Jaja 10:53 am  

I share little bits of the sentiments of most of the comments. I for one think a language should be spoken in its 'proper' way. only thing is 'proper' is elusive in these days. in as much as i would hate it if somebody spoke my language ina really lousy way, and i doubt i speak English like the English
I still almost resent the American pronounciation of Route( Rah- out)
I realise that language mutates, changes, evolves, especially when exported like in the case of the common wealth nations. But then again am thinking that if my Native Ogba tongue were to be taught in France, i would like it to be taught proper. I will be patient with new speakers, but i ll expect excellence.
But what the heck

Having said that.. google should remain google . rain should remain rain (rah-in). has anyone noticed how londoner mess up all the vowels.. anyone ever heard of the gluttral 't' and that the 'f' could replace the 'th' sound...

These extremes will continue in this struggle or find a balance.... i mean the extremes of proper usage and common usage..

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP