What’s in a name?

Perhaps the greatest danger of modern media is that it perpetuates errors by continually referencing itself rather than any original source — to the degree that the error eventually totally occludes the truth.

Eventually, the error becomes the truth.

The reasons are many: laziness, time pressure, lack of professional training or basic education, ignorance, stupidity, herd instinct. None of them noble and all have the same result.

Maria SharapovaA trivial but really annoying example: these days, a very large proportion of female tennis players have Russian names which sports commentators appear to have great difficulty pronouncing (along with many English words encountered above a grade three primer).

For their benefit the World Tennis Association has published a guide for broadcasters. Sadly, this has eight out of ten seriously wrong.

The WTA’s response to criticism has been that along the lines that “this is how most Americans would pronounce them and the players would go along with that”.

The prime example would be one of the world’s highest earning and most successful women players, Maria Sharapova. Russian speakers assure me that this is pronounced “sha-RAH-pa-vuh”, as do authorities overwhelmingly and, most significantly of all, the lady herself.

Now here is the kicker. I have read reports of prominent sport and news broadcasters knowingly using the popular but incorrect pronunciation for fear of being thought ignorant!

Truly, the inmates now run the asylum.


6 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Gwen says:

    It wouldn’t happen on our venerable C.B.C.

  2. SanFrancisco says:

    It is impossible to walk rapidly and be unhappy.

  3. Russell C says:

    The oxen move slowly but the earth is patient.

  4. Anonymous says:

    She is very Pretty.
    Ko Win Zaw Thet Talk from Myanmar, TaungTwin.

  5. Russell C says:

    She is, but the point of the item was the wilful ignorance and ineptitude of sports commentators when it comes to pronunciation — specially the pronunciation of the names competitors.
    Alas Ms Sharapova will not always be pretty but I fear sports commentators will always be ignorant.

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