I don't notice this phenomenon, and I almost always hear English speakers say "meSSerSCHmidt" and never "meSCHerSmidt". If anything, a rare American might say "MeSCHerSCHmidt", but these people are few and far between. I mean, the name consists of the ordinary word "mess" followed by the common syllable "er" and ends with the familiar surname "Schmidt". I almost never find Americans having a problem pronouncing that.
The only explanation I can come up with -- and this would apply only to people with rhotic accents (i.e., most English speakers) -- is that they do it for for the same reason some of them pronounce "grocery" as "groshry". Pronouncing the typical English retroflex approximant /r/ (in North America and many other places) involves spreading the edges of the tongue over near the teeth. That happens to be similar to the position the edges are in when pronouncing "sh". So when saying "grocery", they're spreading the edges of their tongue in anticipation of the /r/ coming, and they end up with "groshry". This might be what's happening with "Messerschmidt" among those rare people who pronounce it wrong, but I don't know.
People pronounce the name "Khrushchev" all different ways. I started out as a small child (probably before I could read) pronouncing it "krus-chev" or "krus-jev", but I eventually learned to pronounce the vowel in the final syllable as an /o/. The problem with that name, as you can see from the spelling in English and Russian, is that the name contains the consonant sequence "sh-ch". Anglophones have a lot of trouble with that, so the easiest thing to do is change the "sh" to "s", and instead of saying "Krush-chov", say "Krus-chov". However, some people (including TV announcers when I was a kid), do pronounce it "Krush-chov". Technically, the K should be KH, but since that sound exists in only four or five English words, it winds up as K in English (much as Hitler is "Gitler" in Russian).
The thing a lot of Americans do that bugs me is to pronounce "maraschino" as "merashino" with an "sh" instead of as "meraskino". The word is perfectly pronounceable in English, but I think Americans guess that "sch" must take the "sh" sound in all languages as it does in German. This is like when you are walking down the street in West Bohemia and German tourists stop to ask you which way to "Tscheb". They should be able to pronounce "Cheb", but they generalize the English value of "ch" to any unfamiliar foreign language.
Americans will pronounce "Szekely goulash" as "shekely goulash", because familiarity with Polish surnames makes them assume the "sz" combination always stands for "sh".
I'm probably shedding more heat than light here.
On Sep 10, 2013, at 4:26 PM, Matej Klimes wrote:
> Out of curiosity only:
> is there a reason why English speakers (both sides of the pond) prefer to pronounce foreign words involving S and Sch sounds the other way round:
> Messerschmit - Germans and the rest of the world go "mesrschmit", hope that's clear, mesr as in knife in German and then the soft S, while all ENG speakers go Meschrsmit, first the soft S and then the hard one, as evident in The Battle of Brittain (film), or any time any Eng native speaker utters the word
> The same with Kruschev - however you decided to spell it, it should be soft S before hard S, yet ENG speakers seems to prefer hard S before soft, "Khruschev"...
> Any reason for this?
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