Sunday, October 5, 2008

Eating Iran for Lunch

It seems that Bernard Kouchner, speaking in English to the Israeli paper Haaretz, misspoke: he intended to say that Israel might "hit" Iran, but the interviewer heard him say that Israel might "eat" Iran. A war of words then erupted over this warping of words.

Perhaps Kouchner should do an ad for Wheaties: "Hit your Wheaties, kids!"


Anonymous said...

Entirely plausible given a french-accented pronunciation of "hit", right? With the "h" silent and 'i' pronounced more like English "ee". Did he misspeak or did the interviewer mis-hear? (And exactly what would the french-accented version of "eat" sound like? Would it be identical to "hit"?)

David in Setouchi said...

-anonymous, you're right except for the terms you use. It's not about French accent (that deals more with tones and stresses that are misplaced in words and phrases) as just pure and plain mispronunciation. As many French people Bernard Kouchner's English pronunciation is horrible (the blame has to be put on the National Education way of teaching languages (English teachers in France are not fully aware that a language is something that is meant to be spoken)) and as you said, he doesn't say the "h" in front of words and can't differentiate "ea" from "i".
So, yeah, for a French speaker with his level of English "hit" and "eat" are homophones.

His wife must be proud (fyi, her English is near perfect).