… called L’Anglophonie.
‘Aren’t you Genghis Khan, love?’ the barmaid asks the first man.
‘I am’, he replies. ‘Except Genghis begins with a soft g. Jenghis rather than Ghenghis. Think of JU-lius Caesar, not Mahatma GAN-dhi. Pronounce it wrong one more time, you lowly servant, and I’ll massacre you along with your whole tribe.’
‘You’re one touchy fellow, Mr Khan. How about a little mood-lifter?’
The Mongol leader draws a dagger, thinks better of it, orders a bloody Mary and sinks into a brooding silence.
‘And you, aren’t you Vincent van Gogh?’ the barmaid asks the second man.
‘I’m Vincent all right, but my name isn’t Van Goff.’
‘Isn’t it? Aren’t you the sunflowers bloke? You must be pulling my leg! I can see you did something to your ear!’
The painter screws his face into a grimace. ‘That’s me all right. But my name’s Van Gogh. Rhymes with dog. Or with loch, if you can manage it.’
‘Are you sure? Not Van Goff? Nor Van Go?’
‘Arrg, don’t, mademoiselle, don’t! It makes my skin crawl. As a remedy, please pour me some green forgetfulness, I beg you.’ Upon seeing the barmaid’s puzzled expression, he adds in a whisper: ‘Absinthe.’
The woman turns to the third man. ‘And who may you be, love? There’s something of the artist and something of the conqueror about you too, but you come across more business-like. Am I right?’
‘My name’s Giles Gilmore’, the man answers rather stiffly. ‘You wouldn’t know my name. I’m a dancer. Ladies can enjoy my company for a fee. Now would you kindly pour me a gin, girl?’
‘Ah, how exciting,’ the barmaid beams with a gentle giggle. ‘So you’re a gigolo!’
And such is the state of culture in L’Anglophonie that the great and mighty get the G’s in their names mangled, but gigolo is pronounced correctly without a moment’s hesitation.
This reminds me of President Roosevelt name. In many parts of the world, the Dutch oo is pronounced like the English oo in room or roof, instead of as in rose! More than once I was asked why, and had to explain.
The funny thing is that in ‘P.G. Wodehouse’, it’s the other way around: looks like the o of rose, but is pronounce as it were written Woodhouse!
I’m not sure if I got it right, but isn’t the 1st Genghis meant to be spelled with an h, indicating the wrong hard g?
The best demonstration of the incoherence of English pronunciation to me is this:
The standard spelling is Genghis Khan, but most people pronounce with g as in get, rather than g as in gene. It should be as in gene. (After all, he spread his genes very successfully. 😉
Yes, the poem – written by a Dutch language geek – is impressive and hilarious.