Thursday, February 23, 2006

How you say?

Have you ever had to go to speech therapy? I did. It happened in the second grade. My second grade teacher decided that it would be to my long term advantage to actually pronounce my “R’s” as though they were R’s instead of “W’s.” My contention is that I had learned this particular pronunciation from watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, in which Elmer Fudd shared my handicap.”Anybody seen that Wascaly Wabbit?”
Warner Brothers (thanks Grant) has a big law suit to fight if this happens in this decade, but alas I grew up in a decade where teachers were not questioned and Warner Brothers was not sued. In a display of conservative republican cruelty the schools expected me to do things correctly. So off to speech therapy I went.

The lessons consisted of the repetitive sounding out of sounds like this:
Ree, Riii, Row, Ruuu
My initial attempts went like this:
Wee, Wiii, Whoa, Wuuu

However there was a speech therapist right in front of my face with correction, and eventually I did learn to say my ‘R’s’. Given that both my first and last name begin with an R, this saved me many a playground beating I suppose.

A couple of days ago I posted about wanting to come back as a baseball radio announcer. Then, last night I was watching the Winter Olympics and was seized by the horror of having to pronounce all of those remarkable names if asked to announce the Olympics.

Here is a short list of the names in the Winter Olympics that would tangle even the skilled in the English language:

Elena Gedevanishvill
Irina Slutskaya
Shizuka Arakawa
Ville Peltonen
Tor Arn Hetland
Gilles Jacqueet
Teppe Numminnen
Shittenkrappe Dammuttuhelle

This makes saying your ‘R’s” correctly seem like child’s play.

Still I wonder if our skilled broadcasters are actually getting all of these names right.
I have the feeling some folks in Latvia, if they happen to be watching NBC, are laughing their Latvian fannies off at the pronouncing goofs.

Quick cut to a Russian broadcaster struggling with the mouthful of English “James Smith.”

Hahmeeeezz Smeeeeth ?

Close enough.


Denny Shane said...

When I started Catholic grade school... the nun didn't like the idea that I was left-handed and she made me start writing with my right hand. Luckily my observant parents noticed I was beginning to stutter. Then they realized I was writing with my right hand and asked me why. They were furious to say the least.

A short trip to the convent during dinner time and a very stern speech persuaded the nun to allow me to write the way God intended for me to write... LOL Man, I miss those days!

Seven said...

I know what you mean. It was a time when if folks thought something in you needed correcting, well you didn't get much to say about it....but if the parents intervened then you might be saved!

Grant said...

Elmer Fudd is not a Walt Disney character. All the Merry Melodies / Looney Tunes characters are property of the WB, you godless heathen. Repent, sinner!

Now about that lawsuit... :p

Seven said...

Correction noted...give me a few moments to clean up!

Reach said...

having to grow up a "Navy Brat" and living all around the world, the Philippine Islands found my vocabulary to be quite confusing. I found myself learning Tagalog and completely misusing my English. Even my normal pronounciation suffered. I completely understand your situation and relate to name pronounciation, considering my career takes me all around the world. Imagine if you were the Pilot and landing in a new country and trying to understand the "bwoken Enwish" of the Air Traffic Controller, as he is intructing you to turn for collision avoidance. Or, "Make reft tune" at a location not pronounce as spelled on your Approach Plates.
Second scenario, speaking to a voice automated computer system over the telephone.


Reach said...

PS, I still misuse my English.....


Molly said...

What a goof yopu are!
Shittenkrappe Dammuttuhelle?

Thought yu could sneak that by didn't you! And such foul language! :)

Molly said...

ooops...forgive spelling...Shittenkrappe!

Seven said...

You paint a scary picture!

Busted again! :)Dammuttuhelle!!

Reach said...

Thank you for the education. As I read yours, and other peoples, site, I hope and usually learn more about what I am doing. Next time you visit my site, please scroll to the bottom and you will see the latest thing you have exposed (I don't know about that word) to me. It may be simple, but it is further than I have done before.


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I was just listening to my favorite radio station this morning and the one DJ is a hispanic woman...and she was pronouncing those names excellently! I thought to myself..."Cripes! I can't IMAGINE trying to pronounce them correctly. And then with a spanish accent too!!!'

I was impressed. Personally, I'd just call them all by their first names and last initials.

"Hey, there's Elena A. and she's won the bronze!!!"