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papier-mache [papier-mâché]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by perpend, May 3, 2013.

  1. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    Source: Chicago Tribune
    Jesus Tapia, 20, carried a large papier-mache sculpture of a monarch butterfly — a symbol, he said, of the natural migration of butterflies that fly north from the Mexican state of Michoacan.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/...tions-20130501_1_marchers-immigration-may-day

    To this day, I never knew how to write "papier-mache", but always thought, growing up, that it would be "paper-mache".

    Does anyone else find the extra "i" in "papier" odd?
     
  2. It's not odd if you are aware that it's from the French for 'chewed paper'.
     
  3. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    Of course, it makes sense, but I always grew up thinking "papier-mache" was from Mexico.

    I had really never thought about it much until I read the article in the Tribune.
     
  4. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In BrE, a French-style pronunciation is often given: PAPPy-eh MASH-eh, so it's a reminder to spell it in a French style, and sometimes all those French accents appear: papier-mâché!
     
  5. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    The weird thing is that in French, "papier" would have 3 syllables, to my knowledge, and the English pronunciation disregards it, in this case. I know that's not surprising. :)
     
  6. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    The complete form is papier-mâché, but in English it's commonly written without diacritics and often with the English spelling and pronunciation of "paper". The second word is usually pronounced "mashay", at least in BrE.

    Crossed with natkretep.

    In French "papier" has two syllables, not three: "pap-YEH", not "pap-ee-eh".
     
  7. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    I see that I was wrong, so I apologize. natkretep said that the BE pronunciation for the "papier" part does have three syllables. My bad. I've never heard that in AE.
     
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, proper French pronunciation is two syllables as given by Einstein. I've heard the English approximation which is what I tried to represent above.
     
  9. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    Ugh, now I'm confused.

    "papier" in French would be 3 syllables, to my knowledge.
     
  10. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
  11. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    The Spanish word isn't "papier." In that case, you would be asking about the odd spelling of "paper" with "L" instead of "R". ;)
     
  12. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Garner's Modern American Usage and The Associated Press Stylebook both favor papier-mache. This doesn't make it correct, of course, but it does show that the French spelling still has some currency.

    As to whether I find it odd, the answer is that I don't now - I've been using AP for a very long time now. But I did the first time I had occasion to look it up.
     
  13. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    This is yet another issue. The British seem to be retaliating for the Norman invasion in 1066 by often shifting the accent to the first syllable of French loan words, rather than accenting the last syllable as the French do. :rolleyes:

    AE accenting tends to follow the French, although we butcher the pronunciation in other ways (as in calling papier "paper")
     
  14. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    Just to confuse the issue further: I was taught the papier-mache spelling when I was a kid, but my family pronounced it pa-PEER ma-SHAY. (I say "my family" because I don't think I ever had occasion to discuss it with anyone else, so I really don't know how other people who lived in our town pronounced it.)
     
  15. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    I couldn't listen to your link, Thomas1, but I heard a sound clip of the pronunciation on Leo, and it's as I recall. To me, it sounds like 3 syllables: pa pi eh.

    At minimum, there's a diphthong in there, since in French, when an "e" comes after an "i" it does not run together, since the sounds are different. Like in the French "pied".

    That pronunciation is killer, RM1. That's exactly how it would be pronounced in German, where the "i" and "e" run together, i.e., pa-PEER = Papier. (Papier = German also. It just has to be capped.) Any German ancestry, RM1?

    Thanks all for the thoughts and input, and the interesting thread!
     
  16. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    German a few generations back on my father's side, but I was raised by my mother, who came from Florida. She was part Dutch, but the last actual Dutchman in the family lived in New Amsterdam.
     
  17. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    I can only hear two syllables in papier, the IPA for it is /pa.pje/
     
  18. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    @Perpend: strange, the clip works on my computer. :confused:
    Anyway, I hear two syllables just as AutumnOwl describes it above. I think you are right that it's a diphthong, but I think it's one syllable. For example, 'pied' is one, so you can't divide the word, 'papier' is two syllables:
    pa-
    pier
    So it can be divided, but not in the following way:
    papi-
    er :cross:
     
  19. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    What about in "plie", Thomas1?

    As in the dance move.

    In that, I hear two syllables.

    In "papier" I hear three, and it makes me want to dance Flamenco, in a heartbeat.
     
  20. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    "What's in a syllable?" :)

    "Pap - yea" comes to two syllables if you consider "yea" as one, or two if you actually say ee-ay. The yod(y) sound is in a gre(a)y zone. If To-kyo is two syllables (Toe-kyo) in its native language it is often three in English : Toe-key-oh.
     
  21. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In French, the e in plie has a diacritical and the one in papier doesn't so it is pronounced quite differently (cooperate vs chicken coop).
     
  22. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    A dyphthong in French is one vowel composed of two sounds, in case of ‘papier’ it’s a croissante dyphthong – a semi-consonant [j] and a vowel [e] (an ‘i’ and an ‘e’ in writing respectively). In ‘papier’ the dyphtong occurs within the syllable [pje] (it’s called synérèse). It’s generally the case of an ‘i’ + vowel, where the ‘i’ becomes [j] when pronounced (but there are exceptions, read below).
    If the two vowels are meant to be pronounced separately, and form a part of separate syllables, it is done through a pronunciation with diérèse: plier [pli/jer] (/ marks a syllable boundary); sometimes it is marked graphically with a tréma as in ‘maïs’, ‘Noël’, etc. The diérèse is generally obligatory after a consonant cluster ending in ‘r’ (crier) or ‘l’ (plier).
    For more information have a look at this.
     
  23. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    That is the French pronunciation. Our dictionary gives the English pronunciation of papier-mâché as pæpjeɪˈmæʃeɪ, which is how I've always heard it.
     
  24. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I know I've definitely heard it pronounced /ˈpeɪpəməˈʃeɪ/ [PAYper-muSHAY] by AE speakers because I remember, the first time I heard it, thinking What?!? whassat??:eek:
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  25. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I think that in French 'mâché' is stressed on the second syllable, whereas 'mâche' on the first one (because there's just one in fact).
     
  26. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In French, there is no clear stress. The syllables are fairly evenly stressed: this makes it sound different from English, where two-syllable words often have initial stress, so that AmE speakers stress the difference from normal English words by giving final stress - hence balLET, caFE or mâCHE. BrE speakers stick to the normal English pattern: BALlet, CAfé, MAché.

    The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary confirms this: /ˌpeɪpər məˈʃeɪ/
     
  27. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Not to mention "GA-teau" for those BE speakers who want to have their cake and eat it too.:)
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  28. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    We might as well say that the word "yes" has two syllables, but no one pronounces it as "ee-es" just because it has two vowel sounds. This is a common mistake in the English pronunciation of foreign names; I've heard sports commentators pronounce Piacenza (Italy) as Pee-acenza. It's not; it's Yacenza with a P on the front.
    To mods: I hope this doesn't seem too much like a digression into other languages, it's just to illustrate a point about how foreign names are imported into English.
     
  29. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    My point is that if the word is borrowed into English, an English-style pronunciation cannot be considered an error. I think a three-syllable pronunciation of papier in English​ is reasonable. We needn't be over-concerned about the 'proper' French pronunciation.
     
  30. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Since this is a thread about foreign words and their English pronunciation, I will respond. We are in full agreement on the variation in handling of a yod sound from other languages - frequently the Anglicized version gives it a vowel value, when the original language version does not. Your example and mine (and pap-ee-ay in contrast to pap-yay) are all illustrations of that.

    The "correctness" of the pronunciation in the original language is, however, not the only issue in the "correctness" of how it is rendered in other languages.
     
  31. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    True enough, but it often happens that the pronunciation of foreign words is changed, not because of an objective difficulty in using the original pronunciation but just through preconceptions about how the word ought to sound in the original language. I'm only saying this as a point of interest; we can't insist...
     

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