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  1. #1

    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 20:17.

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    #2

    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,


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    #3

    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 22:00.

  3. #4

    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?

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    #5

    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.

  5. #6

    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.

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    #7

    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.

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    #8

    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.


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