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Pedants' Paradise


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#3286 Violin Hero

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 08:37

I too have a surname which is more commonly a forename, I have only ever come across 2 other person with it as a surname and the spelling is 1 letter different. There is also at least 2 different spellings of it. The first letter is pronounced as a different letter to the one used in the spelling.

 

Many years ago people used to pronounce it wrong on a regular basis and were unable to find my name on a computer/list/whatever until I spelt it. These days I can't remember the last time someone got it wrong. I still automatically spell it for people who are looking up my name on a computer/list/whatever but I reckon I could have stopped doing that quite some time ago with no negative consequences.

 

That said I do occasionally get emails where people have used the surname as a forename. For a while there was even a person who addressed me by my forename in face to face conversation but by my surname in emails. I waited for this person to realise their error, which they did and they apologised. I found it rather amusing!


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#3287 Crock

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 09:15

 

That said I do occasionally get emails where people have used the surname as a forename. For a while there was even a person who addressed me by my forename in face to face conversation but by my surname in emails. I waited for this person to realise their error, which they did and they apologised. I found it rather amusing!

 

This happens to me a lot, both in emails and when people address me.  I secretly hate it, but of course it is an easy mistake to make.  I think I dislike it because it reminds me of how teachers would address me at school......

 

I visit Spanish speaking countries a lot mostly for work and I have there a different problem.  My given name - short and simple though it is - has no equivalent in Spanish and they cannot pronounce it properly.  So they think my surname is my forename, and that my forename - always wrongly pronounced - is my surname. And I have missed several taxis etc. in hotels, airports etc. because they just called out, "SeƱor Forename".


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#3288 fsharpminor

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 09:29

I recall my grade 6 Organ exam (1962) when the visiting examiner (now passed) was well known viola player Watson Forbes.  My teacher who was acting as centre manager as there was only two of us being examined at our own church, called him 'Mr Watson' instead of 'Mr Forbes' throughout.


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#3289 Crock

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 09:53

The worst offender with getting both my forename and surname wrong was my violin teacher at school in the 70s.

 

To digress, my father loved nicknames (something, ahem, I have inherited) and he had an amusing nickname for this teacher which just involved adding one letter to the middle of her surname. Fortunately the nickname was perfectly polite because on one Parents' Evening he got confused and asked where he could find Mrs Nickname and then proceeded to use it to say hello to her ... 


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#3290 Aeolienne

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 10:43

Being in possession of an Italian surname, I have resigned myself to English speakers never getting it right. Typically the closest people get is rhyming the last two syllables (-ice) with peachy, but the Italian i and e vowel sounds are distinct.

 

(Incidentally, on the subject of Italian surnames, Medici should be pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable not the penultimate. soapbox.gif Same linguistic root as "medical")

 

There's far less excuse for people getting my first name (Louisa) wrong, especially after they've seen it written down. When I politely correct people, all too often they repeat it back with an exaggerated emphasis of the last syllable. One thing I have noticed is that Americans - or at least all the ones I've met - always get it right first time. I don't know whether this is because they're more used to unconventional first names, or due to the legacy of Louisa M Alcott or the strictures of Dale Carnegie.


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#3291 elemimele

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 10:49

Well, names aren't such a straightforward matter. If someone speaks to me in an American accent, I reply in a British accent because I'm British.  So if I meet an American called Shaun and he tells me his name is Shaun, drawing out the vowel and giving it an American drawl, and I then introduce him to a friend of mine, "Hi, I'd like you to meet Shaun", should I affect an American accent when pronouncing his name? it would probably sound as though I'm taking the mickey out of his name, so I'd naturally pronounce it in a largely English accent.

If a French woman is introduced to me as Emilie, pronouncing her name with short, precise, and pure vowels in the French style, I might call her Emily in an unaffected English accent (vowels less pure), but if a French man is introduced to me as Lionel, pronounced Lee-onel, I would, of course, call him that, and not Leye-onel in the English way. There is a delicate balance between emulating the original pronunciation to such an exaggerated extent that it raises questions of motive, and rudely disregarding the way a person would like their name pronounced.

 

With Oriental people it's more complicated again, as English has no preconception about how to tackle the pronunciation, and cannot distinguish family and given names. And of course Oriental names are often naturally written the opposite way to European custom, with the family name preceding the given name, while some Oriental people, aware of this, swap their name into the European form when they're in Europe. I have a lot of appreciation for those who admit that their true name is unpronounceable in the culture in which they now live, and pick an alternative. Lots of my oriental friends have chosen English-friendly names for local use, often quite picturesque ones ("Apple" etc.) instead of leaving me wondering how to pronounce Yping, and whether it's their family name. And as for the Dutch... I do my best, but realistically, the English throat is never going to get it right, no matter how hard we try.


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#3292 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 11:38

This is from a TES document for KEY STAGE 1 (i.e. 5-7 year-olds):

 

To up-level your writing, you must:

 

  • Use a wide range of punctuation

I honestly don't recall ever having a single lesson on punctuation*. Everything I write, I make up the punctuation as I go along. I do once every 10th blue moon attempt to read a book on English grammar, but I give up in boredom, and the older ones have rules that are now out of date. No, I've not yet looked at eats, shoots and leaves.

 

* I tell a lie. At the age of 6 in my first term of my second year of infant school I was told to put a full stop at the end of every sentence, and so I put a full stop at the end of every line!


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#3293 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 11:46

Hope your off line time isn't too stressful GS.

It's been relaxing, in fact, but that's because I probably have bigger problems in London, and I'm burying my head in the sand.

Luckily I took my violin, and I have discovered that charity shops can contain some excellent sheet music. I found a 1983 ABRSM grade 4 violin exam book (i.e. piano part with a violin line) with some really boring music in it, but the actual violin part enclosed was from the grade 5 exam and contained some excellent stuff including Elgar and Corelli, so, rather than get two books for the price of one, I came clean and just took the grade 5 violin part for a quid.

I'm currently in London for a few days, then back down South (uninternetted) for another month at least.


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#3294 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 11:54

Being in possession of an Italian surname, I have resigned myself to English speakers never getting it right. Typically the closest people get is rhyming the last two syllables (-ice) with peachy, but the Italian i and e vowel sounds are distinct.

 

(Incidentally, on the subject of Italian surnames, Medici should be pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable not the penultimate. soapbox.gif Same linguistic root as "medical")

 

There's far less excuse for people getting my first name (Louisa) wrong, especially after they've seen it written down. When I politely correct people, all too often they repeat it back with an exaggerated emphasis of the last syllable. One thing I have noticed is that Americans - or at least all the ones I've met - always get it right first time. I don't know whether this is because they're more used to unconventional first names, or due to the legacy of Louisa M Alcott or the strictures of Dale Carnegie.

As you have probably discovered, the English tend to believe that every Italian word, even if it's a compound, is always stressed on the penultimate syllable.

Then at the other end of the spectrum there are the educated ones who speak Italian as though they are on a roller coaster while at the same time being stabbed with a cattle prod.


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#3295 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 12:17

My wife and I have a wealth of name problems.  My real name is Cherokee: ?? (not sure if the Cherokee characters will show up in all browsers).  Written out in Latin characters, it is Yonv.  The v indicates a nasal vowel that we don't have in English.  So most English speakers tend to pronounce it Yona, like the Hebrew name for the prophet Johnah.  Even my wife pronounces it Yona - she hasn't gotten the hang of that nasal "uh" vowel.  To everyone else, I use the English name "Austin," an name that goes back generations and generations in my family, but nobody has actually used it in the last hundred years or so!  (My grandfather had Austin as a first name and a Cherokee middle name (?? - Tali) - he always went by his Cherokee name.)

 

Then there's my wife's name, which is in Mandarin Chinese.  Next month is our 10 year wedding anniversary.  I can finally pronounce her "maiden" family name (which is also my legal last name in Taiwan) but I have never, never been able to pronounce her "first" name.  (As was mentioned earlier, the name order is Last-First relative to how English speakers use it.)

 

And then my mother-in-law (a wonderful lady - I got lucky there) has a Mandarin name (which I can pronounce in Mandarin), but she uses the Taiwanese pronunciation, which comes out to something remotely similar to the English word "summoner."  So I call her Summoner, as if we were an adventuring party in a fantasy game!

 

Needless to say, we are a multilingual and dare I say multicultural family.  Within the span of an hour, we can go from Bach and Beethoven to American Indian drumming with Cherokee chants, to Taiwanese language folk songs.


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#3296 Banjogirl

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 12:34

I have an incredibly boring and common surname but loads of people spell it wrong. I think people are just stupid!


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#3297 fsharpminor

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 12:58

Well, names aren't such a straightforward matter. If someone speaks to me in an American accent, I reply in a British accent because I'm British.  So if I meet an American called Shaun and he tells me his name is Shaun, drawing out the vowel and giving it an American drawl, and I then introduce him to a friend of mine, "Hi, I'd like you to meet Shaun", should I affect an American accent when pronouncing his name? it would probably sound as though I'm taking the mickey out of his name, so I'd naturally pronounce it in a largely English accent.

If a French woman is introduced to me as Emilie, pronouncing her name with short, precise, and pure vowels in the French style, I might call her Emily in an unaffected English accent (vowels less pure), but if a French man is introduced to me as Lionel, pronounced Lee-onel, I would, of course, call him that, and not Leye-onel in the English way. There is a delicate balance between emulating the original pronunciation to such an exaggerated extent that it raises questions of motive, and rudely disregarding the way a person would like their name pronounced.

 

With Oriental people it's more complicated again, as English has no preconception about how to tackle the pronunciation, and cannot distinguish family and given names. And of course Oriental names are often naturally written the opposite way to European custom, with the family name preceding the given name, while some Oriental people, aware of this, swap their name into the European form when they're in Europe. I have a lot of appreciation for those who admit that their true name is unpronounceable in the culture in which they now live, and pick an alternative. Lots of my oriental friends have chosen English-friendly names for local use, often quite picturesque ones ("Apple" etc.) instead of leaving me wondering how to pronounce Yping, and whether it's their family name. And as for the Dutch... I do my best, but realistically, the English throat is never going to get it right, no matter how hard we try.

Yes, when I worked for the Dutch giant Akzo, I had colleagues call Geert, Gerrit and Guus.  Later I traded extensively and visited Malaysia, and others out there. I am still not sure (I kid you not !) whether one guy was Ah #### Yew or Yew Ah #### . I am annoyed I lost his business card as no one believes me.  (the middle two letters are spelt as 'oo')


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#3298 Violin Hero

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 14:11

Well, names aren't such a straightforward matter. If someone speaks to me in an American accent, I reply in a British accent because I'm British.  So if I meet an American called Shaun and he tells me his name is Shaun, drawing out the vowel and giving it an American drawl, and I then introduce him to a friend of mine, "Hi, I'd like you to meet Shaun", should I affect an American accent when pronouncing his name? it would probably sound as though I'm taking the mickey out of his name, so I'd naturally pronounce it in a largely English accent.

I have a colleague called Shaun who spent 13 months working in mainland Europe with quite a few people from the USA. He said they would forever be pronouncing his name as Sian due to their accent!

 

Surprising, that problem doesn't exist in Britain.laugh.png


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#3299 Tortellini

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 17:35

I have an English surname but almost always pronounce it with an Italian accent nowadays as I live in Italy and experience has taught me that if I pronounce it correctly it will not be understood!

 

It is not always easy to know whether to adapt foreign words or not - especially if you are bilingual. I have been told before now that my pronunciation of Italian words in English is OTT but it is actually really difficult to NOT pronounce Italian words correctly if you are used to saying them every day! I remember once my Italian husband was corrected by a waitress in England for ordering a pizza siciliana  correctly as "si-chill-i-a-na" when she insisted it was "si -sill-i ana". I fell into the same trap with "ciabatta" and "bruschetta". When I left the UK they were not common words so I learnt them first with their Italian pronunciation and it feels weird to try and say them in an English way!


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#3300 Gran'piano

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 17:47

Trying asking for Worcester Sauce or Worcestershire Sauce in a restaurant in Switzerland.
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