Are you one of those readers that likes to know what a foreign word sounds like before you read it in a book? I am. I’ll stop reading in the middle, pay attention and repeat it out loud to myself until I can say it right. But it’s an easy thing to take for granted once you’ve seen and heard the word.
I’ve been there, I’ve listened to Nepali for a solid month and when I read emails from my Nepali friends, I hear their accent on the English words as I read them. The conversion the other direction has been harder. It’s very hard to convey to my American friends and family what Nepali sounds like, how their pronunciation works. I attempted to do this in the very first written page of the book (Linguistics and Pronunciation) but I know that it doesn’t cure everything.
Moments after I got home from the book release party, it occurred to me that no one, including myself had said the name of the book out loud during the release. Yes, of course the pronunciation of Chomolungma is in the glossary, but that only helps a little. I really meant to say it out loud in my American accent as best I could, so it could be heard. And maybe that’s not as big a deal to most of you as it is to me. I love paying attention to the correct way to say things. This is a Sherpa word, which derives from Tibetan. The first sound is slightly different in Tibetan than Sherpa, so you’ll see it spelled with a Q instead of a Ch sometimes. Truth is, it’s a letter blend sound we don’t make regularly. But to get close, say Song of “Chum-a-lung-ma” with emphasis on syllables 1 & 3. And that’s the closest we’ll get with an American tongue. Happy reading.