domingo, 15 de abril de 2018

Lolita and Nabokov

Image result for lolita
Vladimir Nabokov tropieza con los sonidos ingleses.
Vladimir Nabokov writes the begining words of his famous novel Lolita:
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
I have reread those words several times, out loud, and I cannot reproduce the trip the tongue takes to tap the teeth. What teeth?
Was Nabokov teasing us phonetically? Was he making fun of us? How could he have written, by any stretch of phonological imagination, that the tip of the tongue taps at the teeth three times when pronouncing Lo-li-ta?
If Mr. Nabokov had been Spanish, he would have been able to tap the tip of the tongue against the teeth once, and only once. In English not even once, least of all three times. This is fine, and he may pronounce the name any way he  likes, but he should not say that the tip of the tongue takes a trip down the palate to tap the teeth.
For more on this, check my PHONÉTICA INGLESA PARA TORPES (Madrid: Anaya, 2015.)

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