One tricky thing when speaking another language is how to pronounce words that come up in your own language.
For example, if an Inuit* is speaking to a Spanish person, does he pronounce his home town of Juneau as “Juno” or “Yuno”?
It’s a tricky one.
I was once looking lost in a jazz record store in Nice when the salesman asked if he could help me.
“Avez vous du Sonny Rollins?” I said, pronouncing Sonny Rollins in an English accent, because that’s how you say Sonny Rollins.
“Sonny Rollins, il joue le saxo tenor,” I expliqued.
He looked perplexed. I thought for sure a jazz record store would know who he was. All the other records were there: Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, King Oliver, Sarah Vaughan – all that jazz, but I couldn’t find Sonny Rollins.
“Sonny Rollins,” I said again, but he squinted at me and went to get someone else.
They both squinted at me as I said it again, then they looked blankly at each other.
I know, I thought. “Sun-EE Reau-LEENSZ”
“Ahh, Sun-EE Reau-LEENSZ!” They said, “Mais oui, on a. Don’t Stop Zee Carnivale!”
So you see, just because you’re right, it doesn’t mean it’ll get you anywhere.
*Many Inuits consider the name”Eskimo” offensive. It comes from the language of the Cree tribe further south, where it means “eater of raw meat”. It’s a generic term for one of the tribes of Native Americans who live in the far north of the continent, but Inuits, like their Yupik neighbours, don’t like the term.