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Tintin like bin-bin?

December 6, 2011

adventures-of-tintinI am a native American English speaker.  I like to think that I speak most vocabulary correctly according to the standard American English dialect.

I saw a trailer for the upcoming 3-D movie The Adventures of Tintin.  The problem was that it was pronounced as if the named rhymed with “bin-bin,” or as if Hergé’s  protagonist was related to the dog Rin Tin Tin.

But I always grew up pronouncing his name “tahn-tahn.”  I wonder, is that the standard English pronunciation of the name?

(I can see I am not the first person to consider this issue.)

23 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 12:48 am

    I’ve always heard the rhyme-with-bin-bin version in English. After all, almost all the names in Tintin are localized to the language of publication (Milou to Snowy, Moulinsart to Marlinspike, etc.), so it seems like they didn’t expect readers to pronounce names the French way. Even Tintin’s name varies according to language (e.g. Tim in German, Kuifje in Dutch).

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 6, 2011 10:59 am

    You can’t both nasalize the vowel and pronounce the final “n.” Either make it rhyme with “vin” and not pronounce the final “n,” as in French, or just say “Tintin” as in “binbin.”

  3. December 6, 2011 11:55 am

    Paul, interesting. Have you read Tintin in Japanese? It is spelled タンタン. I don’t know if you read Chinese, but in Chinese it is 丁丁.

    Suzanne — the pronunciation I remember growing up is Tahntahn. Maybe it is because I was influenced by a single speaker (I don’t remember talking about Tintin with many people.)

    For me, a nasal vowel doesn’t sound like standard English at all. I am not at all saying that either pronunciation is close to Belgian French.

    Another interesting distinction for me is how people pronounce the name “van Gogh.” I definitely grew up pronouncing this “van goh” but at some point I switched.

  4. December 6, 2011 12:52 pm

    Here’s a nice interview of Hergé.

    He’s mentioning how Tintin will go to South America but cannot say then that there he will be (en español) Tintín. In the Soviet Union, of course, he was Тинтин в стране Советов.

  5. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 6, 2011 2:51 pm

    I don’t know what Tahntahn is supposed to sound like so I really can’t comment further.

  6. December 6, 2011 5:58 pm

    As I recently said to a friend, in Anglicised pronunciation, Tinn-tinn is the world’s second most famous Belgian after Poy-rott. Well, second most famous fictional Belgian at least, but I don’t think Van Rompuy can compete. 😉

  7. December 7, 2011 3:16 pm

    We need “Tahntahn” in international phonetic alphabet.

    IPA, please?

    Thanks for the two double Ns to disambiguate.

    Does anyone know how to pronounce the name “Tintin” in Flemish?

  8. December 7, 2011 5:16 pm

    Kurk and Suzanne: I learned to pronounce it tɔːntɔːn. So I am surprised when I hear people saying tɪntɪn.

    Peter: I think you are right.

  9. December 7, 2011 6:45 pm

    “I learned to pronounce it tɔːntɔːn.” Hmmmm. I can’t make much sense out of that.

    On this page you can see the word “lin.” In my view, Tintin, should have the vowel as in “lin,” so it’s a tilde over the epsilon – unfortunately they won’t combine in this comment box. /tɛ̃tɛ̃/

  10. December 7, 2011 7:20 pm

    Suzanne, I did not learn to pronounce it in the Belgian-French accent, but in American English. I am not aware that ɛ̃ is used in standard American English.

    I pronounce “Versailles” (France) as ver-SAIH (rhymes with “sigh”). I pronounce “North Versailles Township” (Pennsylvania) as ver-SAYLZ (rhymes with “sails”). I am confident that I use the correct American English pronunciation for both locations, but clearly neither is the French pronunciation.

  11. December 7, 2011 7:53 pm

    It appears to me that you are suggesting that /tɔːntɔːn/ is American English for Tintin. I am making every accomodation for the fact that you are American, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. I would expect Tintin to sound like “tantan” perhaps in American English, but not /tɔːntɔːn/. (I think there is a breakdown in communication here.)

  12. December 7, 2011 8:13 pm

    Suzanne: It may well be that I somehow learned a deviant pronunciation (that question, you will recall, was the reason I posted in the first place).

    I am curious as to what pronunciations folks use for this name. You use the French pronunciation — but you are obviously highly cultured and educated and can make nasal vowels at will.

  13. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 7, 2011 9:41 pm

    I can make nasal vowels but I say Tintin to rhyme with bin-bin when speaking English. I do whatever people around me are doing – usually.

    From –
    “I like to think that I speak most vocabulary correctly according to the standard American English dialect”

    to –
    “It may well be that I somehow learned a deviant pronunciation,”

    in only 12 comments!

    Now I need your advice on how to pronounce Bronowski, as BronOWski or BronOFFski?

  14. December 7, 2011 10:04 pm

    Theo and Suzanne, how do you say “Paris”, referring to the city in France, or for that matter the one in Texas?

    But, as we are talking about Texas, maybe Theo is typical of Californians who try to pronounce Spanish as well as other foreign names more or less correctly, whereas Texans do not. In California I was confused by La Jolla, pronounced La Hoya, and learned how to pronounce RodEo Drive in Beverley Hills, nothing like a Texan rOdeo.

  15. December 7, 2011 10:07 pm

    My original post ended with this:

    But I always grew up pronouncing his name “tahn-tahn.” I wonder, is [that] the standard English pronunciation of the name?

    That was, in fact, the purpose of my post.

    For the pronunciation of Jacob Bronowski, you can doubtlessly find many videos where he gives his name. But I remember that he pronounced it the way Oxford’s World Dictionary gives it.

    (In Polish, “w” is normally pronounced “v”, but before the voiceless “s”, the “v” becomes an “f” sound, as in “pierwszy” [first])

  16. December 7, 2011 10:20 pm

    Peter asked: how do you say “Paris”, referring to the city in France, or for that matter the one in Texas?

    I pronounce it Πάρις, just like Homer did in the Iliad! It is those French speakers who corrupted the pronunciation.

    But you may be interested to know that whenever one of those British teleplays adapted from P. G. Wodehouse are shown in the US, they need to be preceded by an announcement explaining the British pronunciation of “valet.” (In the US, “valet” is pronounced as if it rhymes with “lay.”)

  17. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    December 7, 2011 10:26 pm

    “That was, in fact, the purpose of my post.”

    You’re right.

    “(In Polish, “w” is normally pronounced “v”, but before the voiceless “s”, the “v” becomes an “f” sound, as in “pierwszy” [first])”

    So Bronoffsky. (My lab partner in linguistics 101 was Polish and that has been a huge advantage – I once got some free software because I pronounced the name Przygocki correctly.) Even though I watched Bronowski’s documentaries, I couldn’t remember how he was introduced.

  18. December 8, 2011 6:54 am

    Ah, well done, Theo, trust you to appeal to an authority older than the French! I have always used the French and US pronunciation of “valet”. I suspect the other pronunciation comes from people who had never heard of the word except from reading it in Wodehouse’s books. But the American phenomenon of valet parking is now catching on in the UK (for the first time ever I had my car valet parked near the airport for my current US trip) so I suspect the American way of saying it will also come back into favour.

    I would agree on Bronowski, also a TV hero of mine from long ago. But those Polish pronunciations can be most confusing. I was once at an airport in the former Soviet Union where an international flight was offered to the Cyrillic equivalent of “Zheshuv”. It took me a long time to work out that the destination was in fact Rzeszów in Poland.

  19. French Student permalink
    October 23, 2017 7:10 pm

    I’m a few years late, but in French class we were taught “tahn-tahn”. It sounded a little more like “ton-ton” though.


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