Pronunciation as Shibboleth

The Economist’s “Democracy in America” blog is irritated by the National Review’s myopic focus on Obama’s pronunciation of Pakistan last night:

These are peeves, not about language but identity. Mr Obama’s “Pah-kee-stahn” is a shibboleth for a certain class: educated internationalists who know that South Asians pronounce the name roughly as Mr Obama does, including in English. Plenty of Americans say “Pakistan” the way Mr Obama does, though it’s certainly a minority preference.

More on Sarah Palin’s “Eye-rack” and the voiced pharyngeal fricative here.

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.