Tourist or terrorist?

Hythloday   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 10:00 GMT
Further to my previous posts about the North American inability to pronounce word-medial r (e.g. horrible, orange, etc.), I have noticed that the words tourist and terrorist are homophonous in some North American accents. I remember wondering why the US military was spending so much time tracking down a tourist named Osama bin Laden until I realised the CNN newsreader pronounced the words terrorist and tourist in a simlar way. You Yanks really ought to get this sorted out because I think it is potentially quite dangerous and I am not going to visit the US again if people are going to call me a terrorist when I am a tourist.

By the way, has anyone seen the film Apocalypse Now? The bit where Marlon Brando dies and whispers "The horror, the horror" has me in fits of laughter because it sounds like he is saying "The whore, the whore" in a northern British English accent.
Corey Graham   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 20:20 GMT
You cant tell me that some U.K. accents are almost impossible to understand, I'm Scot/Canadian and half the time I have no idea what my family is saying.
mjd   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 20:43 GMT

What are you talking about? I pronounce all of these words just fine (orange and horrible...we went through this when you originally posted this claim) and "terrorist" and "tourist" are certainly not homophones in my North American accent.

I think the problem lies with your listening abilities.
Terrorist and tourist   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 20:58 GMT
''Terrorist'' and ''tourist'' sound very different to me. So, do ''terror'' and ''tour''.
mjd   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 21:09 GMT
Perhaps Hythloday needs to get his hearing checked.
Tourist   Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 22:43 GMT
tourist is usually said like either ''tor-ist''. [to:rist] or ''tur-ist'' [te:rist]. Sounds nothing like ''terrorist''
A.S.C.M.   Wednesday, December 31, 2003, 00:07 GMT
You know, Hythloday, the Americans can differentiate perfectly between their pronunciations of "terrorist" and "tourist", and so would you, after you've lived in the US for a while.

American: "Canadians say aboot!"
Canadian 1: "No, we don't. We say a-boat."
American: "There you go! You just said aboot!"
Canadian 2: "Hah! My fellow Canadian is a Newfie. I say a-bey-oot."
American: "Anyway, all Canadians say something similar to aboot."

American 1: "Ooh! Winter's so cold."
Briton: "Who's the winner? I wonder why he's so unfriendly."
American 1: "I didn't say anything about the winner."
American 2: "Idiot, he said something about winter!"
Briton: "What's the difference? The absence of a definite article?"
Alice   Wednesday, December 31, 2003, 03:37 GMT
Nicely done, ASCM. I do occasionally hear people pronouncing "terrorist" as "tayr-rist", but never "tourist". I think whatever Hythloday heard must have been a fluke.
ok   Friday, January 02, 2004, 01:15 GMT
Tare-er-ist vs. Too-rist No similarity to me.
Andrew   Friday, January 02, 2004, 03:03 GMT
Unless you live in Ireland, "terrorist" and "tourist" sound rather different to me.
Craig   Friday, January 02, 2004, 07:28 GMT
Hythloday, I've got to admit that I agree with the other guys. Those two words sound quite distinctive to me, and I'm not even American.
Hythloday   Saturday, January 03, 2004, 15:01 GMT
Sorry, chaps. I've just had my ears syringed and everything sounds much clearer now. False alarm. I think I will holiday in the States now. Can you recommend anywhere nice?
Jim   Monday, January 05, 2004, 02:27 GMT
I'm sure most places are nice; just stay away from anywhere too touristy: you wouldn't want to get balmed.