Topic: Eedgits on the air

Never give in. Never surrender. I just e-mailed the Tennis Channel the following:

"Hello friends,

Currently, a replay of the Jerzy Janowicz vs. Kevin Anderson match is showing on your channel. As always, when Janowicz is playing, I have to turn off the sound in order to be able to watch the match.

I understand the fact that most of your commentators do not speak other languages than English. Nor are they expected to learn how to correctly pronounce the names of the players, like announcers in sports such as hockey and soccer are. I wish this were not the case, but it is and I do not expect you suddenly to start caring about how the players’ names are actually pronounced. I know better.

Even so, the deliberate mispronunciation of Jerzy Janowicz’s name in particular is, for me, extraordinarily annoying. When Jerzy burst onto the scene two years ago, your announcers actually asked him how his name is pronounced, which made all the sense in the world. He told them his name is pronounced “Yert sy Yahn o vitch” (forgive the phonetic rendering but I don’t know how else to do it). For a little while, most of your announcers pronounced his last name like he does, though I have never heard any of them say his first name like he does (which isn’t so bad since they virtually always refer to everyone but the very top players by their last names). Now, however, ALL of them nearly always pronounce his last name “Yahn o wits” or even “Yan o wits.” Occasionally someone – usually Jim Courier, by far your most intelligent commentator – slips and says the name correctly, but they promptly “correct” themselves and return to the mispronunciation. This fact makes it very clear that they have been instructed to mispronounce his name in that manner.

I cannot help wondering why.

I suppose it’s related to the reason that your announcers insist on emphasizing the “ova” part of female Eastern European names in spite of the fact that it is never emphasized in the actual pronunciation of the name. Of course, that started (to my memory, at least) with Martina Navratilova, whose name was pronounced “Nahv rah TEEL ova” (a beautiful name) until it was changed by American commentators to “Nav RAT ti LOVA” (a very ugly name). I think we have to blame Martina to some extent for allowing it, but as a Czech lesbian in the USA who wanted to be loved by everybody (instead of being the villain to Chrissie Evert’s heroine), she was not about to argue with any commentator about anything. So we continue to butcher all these “ova” names for no reason whatsoever other than the fact that we always have butchered them.

Oddly, you don’t see a need to force the announcers to pronounce the letter “l” in Monfils. In fact, for the most part, French names are usually pronounced nearly correctly (Henin and Mahut being notable exceptions that are always mispronounced). When you look at it objectively, it seems that Eastern European and Spanish names have been singled out for intentional mispronunciation.

It would be a very easy thing to ask the top 100 men’s and women’s players to pronounce their names, tape it, play those tapes for your commentators and have them practice in front of someone with a good ear until they get it right. Most of them would have all the names down pat in a week or so. Brad Gilbert would certainly need longer and might have some company, but anyone can learn to say names correctly. Hockey announcers are not geniuses and they do it right.

But for some reason, you obviously want the names to be mispronounced. That’s where you baffle me. For the life of me I can’t figure out why. Please let me in on the secret reason for butchering these people’s names. I promise to keep it to myself.

Thank you in advance for explaining this to me, as it’s driving me nuts. Please do it fairly soon, because I feel certain that your explanation will allow me to turn the sound back on. In the meantime, I’ll have to continue to mute most matches involving Eastern European or Spanish players, just as though it were a Sharapova/Azarenka screamfest.

Best wishes"

This is not the first time I've called them on this, but I am working on my delivery & I think it's improving with practice.

Last edited by Don--2013-Yoda-Cup-Guru (Aug. 30, 2014 12:09am)

Re: Eedgits on the air

That was really entertaining, Don.  Wish I'd read it sooner.