September 27, 2007

Hu's on Jeopardy

Jeopardy has been doing pretty well recently on the linguistic front, but last night they got one wrong. The clue asked for two English words that are homonyms of the names of the the President and Premier of China. The desired response was who and when. The current President is Hú Jǐntāo (胡锦涛); his family name is indeed pronounced like English who. The current Premier is Wēn Jiābǎo (温家宝). His family name is not, however, pronounced like English when. In the pinyin romanization, the letter <e> is pronounced [ə] in most environments, including this one, so his name actually sounds more like English won.

Posted by Bill Poser at September 27, 2007 02:58 PM