Hyperforeignism

Target

Colbert

A hyperforeignism is a non-standard language form resulting from an unsuccessful attempt to apply the rules of a foreign language to a loan word (for example, the application of the rules of one language to a word borrowed from another) or, occasionally, a word believed to be a loan word.

The result reflects ‘neither the… rules of English nor those of the language from which the word in question comes.’

For example, ‘habanero’ is sometimes spelled or pronounced with an ‘ñ’ (‘habañero’), which is not the correct Spanish form from which the English word was borrowed. In an extreme form, this can also apply to words that have a foreign origin but have since been assimilated to follow the general rules or even words that are not foreign at all but are misperceived as foreign. Mistakenly using a hyperforeign pronunciation is often seen as absurd or embarrassing, because it implies the speaker is less educated than he or she might wish.

The word ‘parmesan,’ though it denotes an Italian cheese, derives its spelling from French and should therefore be pronounced ‘par-me-zan.’ However it is often mispronounced as ‘par-mi-ZHAN’ under the influence of the Italian name for the cheese, parmigiano. Many non-native French speakers who have some familiarity with the language may erroneously omit the last consonants in words like ‘Vichyssoise,’ in ‘prix fixe,’ in ‘mise en scène,’ and in ‘coup de grâce’ in which some omit the final consonant.

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