Thursday, August 26, 2004

Poor Claudine Schaul. She actually had the nerve to request that the sports media pronounce her name correctly.

She paid for it, too, when both Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver became utterly obnoxious about it while calling the second round of the U.S. Open Series Pilot Pen Tournament.

Announcing that Schaul had asked the media to stop mispronouncing her name, Drysdale said something to the effect of "Bear with us, we're used to pronouncing it a different way." It's one syllable, for god's sake! How much time does he need to learn how to say it correctly? And sure enough, he spent most of the match mispronouncing Schaul's name.

Shriver was even worse. At one point, she said "Schaul (wrong pronunciation), or Schaul (correct pronunciation)--whichever way you want us to pronounce it..."

Hello, Pam! She already told you how to pronounce it.

Neither Drysdale nor Shriver is stupid, so the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they somehow felt put upon by being asked to do something as simple as showing Claudia Schaul basic respect by saying her name right.

With the exception of NPR, no one in the American media pronounces Maria Sharapova's name correctly, either. Sharapova said she gave up thinking she could get Americans to pronounce it properly, and has adopted the American pronunciation. And though she has been a tennis icon for over two decades, Martina Navratilova has rarely had her name pronounced correctly by the American media.

It is easy to conclude that Americans simply don't think it is important to pronounce foreign names accurately. And though this is probably an accurate conclusion (it was such a chore for the announcers on the opening night of the Olympics), the problem goes beyond the speaking of foreign names.

Take Dick Cheney, for example. His name is pronounced "Cheeny," but years ago, he, too, gave up trying to get the American media to pronounce it correctly.


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