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March 31, 2008

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Taj Mahal is pronounced in Hindi-Urdu something like "taj mahél" with an affricate for the "j" and the last vowel like in "bet". Not much like "tazh mahál". But I am with mike: the proper English pronuncation is however English speakers pronounce it.

I'd not heard onchilada...or onreekay. Wow.

Then there's the pronunciation of habanera with the palatal nasal. It's even spelled with the tilde (ñ) at times. This isn't pure hyperforeignization -- it's also from the more specific contamination of jalapeño.

Michael: Onchilada and onreekay may be peculiar to Los Angeles, where Mexico meets the Midwest. (Not the literal Midwest, of course. But L.A. is full of Midwestern transplants as well as near-Midwesterners from Oklahoma, Arkansas, etc.) I've heard both quite frequently among older Anglo Angelenos who consider Spanish, or a Spanish accent, to be infra dig (to put it as politely as possible). This is pure speculation, but I'd wager that for them, Frenchifying the pronunciation makes both the food and the name more palatable.

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