Awkward names

Some consonant clusters exist in language X but not in language Y. Okay, so you and I can't pronounced [USSR-born musician] Leonid Ptashka's name properly; he recently said that he's become so used to hearing it pronounced Petashka that sometimes when he introduces himself on the phone, he hears himself referring to himself as Petashka.

This, however, is no excuse for not being aware that such an insertion of a vowel, especially in formal writing, is a mistake. A colleague of mine in a previous job (a previous life?...) never tired of correcting his associates: My name is Dmitry, not Dimitry. (Yes, I'm talking about you, D. Markman, currently of MathWorks.)

I'm telling you all this because as I was translating a paragraph about Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs (in 1956) Dmitri Shepilov, from Hebrew to English, I noticed that the eminent writer/historian "corrected" the Hebrew, דמיטרי שפילוב, by adding a "yod" after the "dalet"…

In Linguistics class at TAU, my friends and I had lots of fun practicing our smidgen of Swahili, saying phrases like mtoto mbongo, which – if memory serves, which it very well may not – means "good boy".


Unknown said...

IMHO, many people simply don't bother with proper pronunciation because they don't deem it worth their while--
My humble contribution to your concatenated consonants:
In Czech, smrt (my favorite) = death; smrzliná = ice cream; Staroměstské náměstí = Old Town square (in Prague). And if memory serves, "Siwezi kuzungumza kiswahili" :)

Post a Comment