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What are the qualifications to be an announcer/commentator at the US Open? Clearly it's not the ability to be able to pronounce the names of the players.

Someone who has been making a big splash of late is an 18 year-old Canadian named Denis Shapovalov. At the start, when nobody knew who he was, the announcers would pronounce his name

SHOP-uh-VAL-ov

Semi-understandable for most of us but certainly not for people whose job it is to comment on players with mostly foreign names. But it gets worse.

Shapovalov didn't qualify for the US Open in time (he didn't get his boost in ranking until the end of the Rogers Cup) and wasn't expected/expecting to play, however, because Milos Raonic (Canadian) dropped out due to surgery, Denis made the cut. Every time he plays now they include a segment where the announcers debate how to pronounce his name. Sometimes they will even play a clip where he is interviewed after a match saying

It's pronounced like a French hat chapeau-valov (sha-POE-val-OV)

And then they all promptly go back to mispronouncing it. To me that's either a sign of disrespect or incompetence, or possibly both. I'm thinking more disrespect since they asked the question but clearly weren't interested in the answer.

Yes. It's a small thing but it's like fingernails on a blackboard when I have to listen to it a hundred times a match.

Also, yes, my wife knew I screamed at the TV when she married me.

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  • Aaaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!!!! Just finished watching Global News out of Winnipeg (Canada) where they had a new story about him. And of course they got his name wrong. I can no longer look down on (most) American sportscasters. I think I'll just go sit on my front steps and chase neighbourhood kids … Read More

  • New Rule: If you pronounce it `WIM-ble-TON` then you can't work as a tennis commentator. Read More

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Aaaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!!!!

Just finished watching Global News out of Winnipeg (Canada) where they had a new story about him. And of course they got his name wrong.

I can no longer look down on (most) American sportscasters.

I think I'll just go sit on my front steps and chase neighbourhood kids off my lawn.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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New Rule: If you pronounce it WIM-ble-TON then you can't work as a tennis commentator.

Votes + Comments
Listen and see if you agree. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQdN65N31gQ
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You'd think that a country with the most diverse ethnic makeup would have commentators that could pronounce names. Must be a stupidity thing.

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I don't do videos at the cottage (data cap) but the proper way is

WIM-bull-dun

Edited by Reverend Jim

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Weather reporters are just as bad - currently they are insisting on reporting about the hurricane in an-TEEG-wa, when it is really over an-TEEG-a. They insist on pronouncing every letter. :(

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Do you recall WKRP in Cincinatti with Les Nesman's pronunciation of chihuahua? Hint. It was chi-hoo-a-hoo-a. Since these people basically just read stuff off the teleprompters, wouldn't it be a good idea to put these words in phonetic form?

Edited by Reverend Jim

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On the other hand, if they would all follow a course in Oxford English pronunciation...
It would sound weird in Scotland, Australia, Texas, Canada etc.
And then again, how would you pronounce the "j" in rioja (a Spanish wine)? Well like the "ch" in chemical, so you say roicha.
Other example: my last name is Marivoet. Most English speaking persons say Marivo-et, while the Dutch "oe" is pronounced like the "oo" in book.
It' hard to be a commentator and have to know it all.

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It' hard to be a commentator and have to know it all.

I agree. My last name is Dutch (de Graff) but, fortunately, it is pronounced like it looks. Even easier, because it is two words with the first word lower case, it lends itself to the correct inflection.

Having said that, when your job as a sports commentator involves frequently saying players' names, AND that particular player is the topic of the week, AND that player's name doesn't consist of strings of consanants like Chmzcz (with no obvious pronunciation), AND you just finished airing an interview with the player where he explained how to pronounce his name, then it's really NOT that hard.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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Well, Canadian surnames, too, can not always be pronounced correctly, it is enough to put an emphasis on the wrong syllable and it turns out nonsense.

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Read what I posted. His name is four simple syllables. No "silents". It was just explained how to pronounce his name, and they still got it wrong. And how many English speaking people in the media (whom I assume have more than a basic education) have never heard the word, chapeau? I can imagine Jethro Bodine pronouncing it SHA-poe, but not a tennis commentator.

I recall an episode of All in the Family where Archie goes to talk to a local priest. The regular guy is away and he has to talk to the fill-in, a man named Chang. Even after repeated corrections, Archie keeps calling him Reverend Ching. Eventually the reverend calls him Mr. Binker, at which point Archie gets offended.

It's a matter of professional competence as well as respect. "You are not important enough for me to put in the minimal effort to say your name correctly."

I worked with a guy whose last name was Bjornnson. A co-worker insisted on pronouncing it bah-jorn-son. Now imagine if the announcers insisted on referring to one well-known tennis player as bah-jorn Bork, or the singer as bah-jork? It starts to rankle very quickly.

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Americans often refuse to attempt to correctly pronounce multi-syllable hard-to-pronounce "foreign" names. Take my family. Way back when at Ellis Island, my ancestors, the Burufskys (very possibly misspelled as no one in my family KNOWS how to spell it or pronounce it) arrived and the (I assume Irish) guy checking them in said something to the effect of "That name's too hard to pronounce. Your last name is now Brooks. Welcome to America." From then on, Brooks it was. Burufsky (sp?) hasn't been used since, including by them. It was part of the assimilation process. Ditto on the West Coast with Angel Island. If the immigrants minded, they kept it to themselves. For my great-great grandparents fleeing the tzar, it was a small sacrifice and they wanted to shed their Russian identity anyway. Good thing too, because they had no say in the matter. Their new green card (or whatever it was in those days) said Brooks.

It's an unfortunate American custom among many to purposely NOT attempt to pronounce names (and big words) correctly, as if doing so would be a betrayal of I'm not sure what. Of course it's 2017, it's tennis, they're announcers, and the players are not trying to emigrate, so yeah, seems like they should try to get the pronounciation right. But when a certain former president says "Noo-cu-lar" for eight years, good luck getting people to pronounce Shapovalov correctly (that one actually doesn't seem that hard?).

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Remember, this is a country that pronounces Favre as "farve". Then again, the British gave us "FEN-shaw" for Fetherstonehough and "CAR-key" for khaki so who am I to judge?

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