Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    26
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    British media (and everyone in Britain, I believe) pronounce first name of Michael Schumacher, the F-1 driver, as /maɪkθl/ (like the name Michael is normally pronounced in English) instead of pronouncing it as /mɪkɑ:ɪl/ (like first name of Mikhail Gorbachev the former Soviet President), which I believed is the way Schumacher's first name is pronounced in his home country, Germany.

    But when it comes to Thierry Henry, the Arsenal footballer, British media pronounce his last name as /ɑ:nri:/ (like it is pronounced in his home country, France) instead of /henri:/!

    Anyone know the reason why?
    Last edited by YTG; 05-Nov-2005 at 19:17.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,610
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Thierry's surname is easy to pronounce, which might be a factor. With his teammate Robert Pires, the first name is usually pronounced as an English name, not a French one. I think we might try a bit harder with surnames. If Henry were his first name, we'd probably pronounce it English-style,

  3. #3
    Johannes is offline Newbie
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    8
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    This is a problem that occurs in every language. Names are "adopted" with a local pronunciation which often have no resemblance to the original way they are pronounced in the country of origin. This happens more often when a similar, or even the same name also exists in both languages. Michael exists both in German and in English so it's very natural for an English speaking person to pronounce it the English way.

    The Russian pronunciation of Michael actually has as little in common with the original German one as the English one has. I'm not a linguist, so I can't give you the proper phonetic description, but the ch in Michael in German has a very soft sound whereas the English one sounds like a K and the Russian has a snoring gutteral sound.
    Last edited by Johannes; 06-Nov-2005 at 21:00.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    26
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Thierry's surname is easy to pronounce, which might be a factor. With his teammate Robert Pires, the first name is usually pronounced as an English name, not a French one. I think we might try a bit harder with surnames. If Henry were his first name, we'd probably pronounce it English-style,
    Ok, it's first name vs last name then. I'll see if your theory is correct. :) Thanks.

    I didn't know about Robert Pires. How is his first name pronounced in France?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes
    This is a problem that occurs in every language. Names are "adopted" with a local pronunciation which often have no resemblance to the original way they are pronounced in the country of origin. This happens more often when a similar, or even the same name also exists in both languages. Michael exists both in German and in English so it's very natural for an English speaking person to pronounce it the English way.
    If your theory is correct then why don't they also pronounce Thierry's last name as hen-ree?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes
    The Russian pronunciation of Michael actually has as little in common with the original German one as the English one has. I'm not a linguist, so I can't give you the proper phonetic description, but the ch in Michael in German has a very soft sound whereas the English one sounds like a K and the Russian has a snoring gutteral sound.
    Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned anything about Russian. I mentioned Gorbachev because his first name sounds like Schumacher's first name. Nothing to do with Russian way vs English way of pronouncing Michael. Because I wasn't comparing Russian Michael and English Michael. Mikhail is not Michael. No one would pronounce Mikhail as mai-kle. It is totally different.

    But yes, you are right that the British could incorrectly pronounce Schumacher's first name as mai-kle instead of mi-ka-el or mi-ka-il. But how many years have they been pronouncing it incorrectly? If someone pronounces your name incorrectly the first time they come across you name and you tell them the correct way or pronouncing it but somehow that person still keeps calling you the incorrect one how would you feel? Schumacher isn't nobody. He has been around for how many years? Why can't the British establishment like the BBC get it right?

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,610
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    With 'Robert' in French, it would be something like 'Rob-air'.

    We adapt names to make them comfortable. In the case of poor Mr Schumacher, most also use 'ck' for his surname, while German would have a soft sound, wouldn't it? British speakers are not too comfortable with ames that have sounds we find difficult, so we do tend to modify. I don't think the BBC as the strict policies and guidelines it used to have.

    PS If you think that's bad, I'm living in Japan and they change a letter and add a syllable to both my first and last names.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    26
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    With 'Robert' in French, it would be something like 'Rob-air'.
    I see.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    British speakers are not too comfortable with ames that have sounds we find difficult, so we do tend to modify.
    I would say pronouncing French names (persons, places, cities, etc.) correctly is more difficult than pronouncing German names. I have a feeling that the British tend to pronounce French words correctly. I don't know why. Maybe because French words sound more ... (I don't know what adjective to put there -- wonderful perhaps? -- but it means that "you love to hear it"). One of my English teachers (an English guy) used to tell me that most words in English that adopted from French have good meanings. While most of words with bad meanings are original English words. But some say that maybe it's because English is a Germanic language while French has a different root.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    PS If you think that's bad, I'm living in Japan and they change a letter and add a syllable to both my first and last names.
    If you mean something like adding -sang or -chi to names, I think that's more to do with culture rather than language.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    If you mean something like adding -sang or -chi to names, I think that's more to do with culture rather than language.
    I also live in Japan, and "-sang / -chi" aren't added. Japanese is a CV (consonant-vowel) language. If your name is, say, Steve, the Japanese will pronounce it like this,

    su-tu-ee-bu. (CV-CV-V-CV)

    That's not a matter of culture; it's linguistics.

    With regards to "Michael", you mentioned:
    Schumacher isn't nobody. He has been around for how many years? Why can't the British establishment like the BBC get it right?
    Well, what say the BBC? Seems to me that if Mr Schumacher cared as much as his fans about the pronunciation of his first name, he'd have had his staff do something about it a long time ago. The UK isn't the be-all-and-end-all of the world. Schumacher seems to know that. If not, it takes just the one phone call to rectify the problem. Why blame the establishment? Schumacher is far from a victim here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    26
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    I also live in Japan, and "-sang / -chi" aren't added. Japanese is a CV (consonant-vowel) language. If your name is, say, Steve, the Japanese will pronounce it like this,

    su-tu-ee-bu. (CV-CV-V-CV)

    That's not a matter of culture; it's linguistics.
    I am not sure what CV language means but I think if Japanese is a CV language then my language might be as well. I think it is hard for the Japanese to pronounce English properly because the nature of their speaking which in turn is influenced by their own language. I think Japanese has limited sounds. Also from where I am from, we are told that to speak English we have to use tongue instead of mouth like when we speak our language. I think that's also the case for Japanese.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    With regards to "Michael", you mentioned:
    Well, what say the BBC? Seems to me that if Mr Schumacher cared as much as his fans about the pronunciation of his first name, he'd have had his staff do something about it a long time ago. The UK isn't the be-all-and-end-all of the world. Schumacher seems to know that. If not, it takes just the one phone call to rectify the problem. Why blame the establishment? Schumacher is far from a victim here.
    Not at all. You missed the point. I am no Schumacher fan. I am not speaking for Schumacher here. And I don't think he cares how his name is pronounced in Britain or even worldwide. But look at the big picture, if the BBC can't get Schumacher's name right then how many others' that they can't get it right? The BBC isn't just a national news agency. I don't have access to BBC World Service but I'll bet they also pronounce his name as mai-kle. I am a viewer I expect reliable pronounciation from them as my pronounciation is based on British one. I can just send an email to the Newswatch programme but I don't know about other media. I don't watch CNN or ABC so I don't know how the Americans and the Australians pronounce Schumacher's name. But from where I come from we pronounce Schumacher's and everyone else's names correctly based on what they are called in their country. It is a matter of respect. As I mentioned ealier how would you feel if someone keep pronouncing your name incorrectly? Even after you've told them the correct way to pronounce? I guess you are gonna say you don't care.
    Last edited by YTG; 09-Nov-2005 at 18:35.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,610
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    One of my English teachers (an English guy) used to tell me that most words in English that adopted from French have good meanings. While most of words with bad meanings are original English words. But some say that maybe it's because English is a Germanic language while French has a different root.
    Some argue this, with examples of things like pig/pork, suggesting that the Anglo-Saxons did the work and the Normans ate the result. However, French borrowing make up a consderable percentage of our vocabulary, so it's hard to generalise about whether they're al good, or mostly good. With more modern loan words, French has added a lot to ood, art and diplomacy and German a lot to areas like philosophy, so it depends whether you're a foodie or a thinker.


    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    If you mean something like adding -sang or -chi to names, I think that's more to do with culture rather than language.
    Before adding 'san', they do a lot to my name:
    Richard- the initial R is changed to L and a vowel is added to the end, so I am Lichardo.
    Flynn- this becomes Furin, which, interestingly, means 'denial of ethics' and is their way of saying 'extra-marital sex'. Then they can shove 'san' on the end if they like. Japanese add vowel sounds to many of the words they borrow.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is the first name of Michael Schumacher incorrectly pronounced in Britain?

    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    I am not sure what CV language means but I think if Japanese is a CV language then my language might be as well.
    Cool! What language do you speak, YTG?

    By the way, a CV language is one that has a maximum of one consonant and one vowel per syllable. For example, Japanese "good-bye", sa'yo'na'ra. English isn't a CV language. English can have more than one consonant per syllable. For example,

    "plan" CCVC
    "plant" CCVCC
    "plants" CCVCCC
    "spleen" CCCVC

    Japanese speakers place an extra vowel, usually "u", between the Cs to ease pronunciation, like this,

    "plan" => pu'ra'nu

    In addition,
    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    But look at the big picture, if the BBC can't get Schumacher's name right then how many others' that they can't get it right?
    I understand what you mean, but the fact of the matter remains, we (that's you, me, and everybody else who doesn't work for BBC) don't know why the BBC pronounces "Michael" as [mai'kl]. For all we know, he told the BBC, "Whatever pronunciation you like."

    Quote Originally Posted by YTG
    But from where I come from we pronounce Schumacher's and everyone else's names correctly based on what they are called in their country. It is a matter of respect.
    I whole-heartedly agree with you there, YTG, and yet, what if Michael likes to be called [mai'kl] by his friends in the UK? You see, we don't know Michael's preference, and, yes, it's about personal preference. You and I may feel that native pronunciation is paramount, but others, including Michael, might feel otherwise. Bottom-line is, we don't know what he prefers. One way to find out is to ask him. Better yet, why not ask the BBC? You see, assuming this or that leads us nowhere. Get the facts.

    All the best.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •