Saturday, April 3, 2010

Adventure in Cross-Language Marketing and Pronunciation

It's the mark of the cosmopolitan Mexican that he knows to pronounce English words beginning with "h" the way Americans do, with a sound that resembles the Mexican "g" or "j", rather than leaving the "h" silent, as it is Spanish. Which is to say, phonetically, it's Hillary Clinton, not Illary Clinton. But there are, of course, certain English words in which the "h" is silent, such as "honor" or "herb". Or "Herbal Essence", whose Mexican marketers, for some reason, decided to embrace the faux sophistication, and therefore mispronounce the product's name.

Every time I see an ad for the product, I am awash with the same feeling of third-party embarrassment that you get when someone insists on ostentatiously sticking French phrases into casual conversation.

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