How are World Cup Players’ Names Really Pronounced?
The opening whistle has sounded and the 2018 World Cup is in full swing. 32 nations will play a total of 64 matches in the host country of Russia. From 14 June to 15 July, the victories and defeats of countries both large and small will be a continual focus of newspaper, radio and television reporting. But the tournament also provides fans, viewers, commentators and news broadcasters with ample opportunities to – in a manner of speaking – put their foot in it. Most of us will probably have to admit that attempting the correct pronunciation of players’ names like Wojciech Szczęsny or Kepa Arrizabalaga is at least a bit daunting.
Maximilian Hubert, a student of history and Slavic Studies at the University of Bamberg, has a solution. As part of an audio project, he has enlisted the assistance of University of Bamberg instructors, students and, above all, native speakers to record the names of foreign players, referees and coaches. For the second time, the audio files and lists that include the correct spelling of players’ names and additional background information are available for free on the University of Bamberg website: www.uni-bamberg.de/slavling/wm-2018
The project was first initiated in the months leading up to the 2016 European Championship. For this year’s tournament, nearly two dozen people were involved in “making a small contribution to international understanding”, as Maximilian Hubert puts it. And it was no small task: even native speakers had to take subtle regional nuances and individual variations into account.
Spanish, for instance, is not simply Spanish: Pronunciation in Mexico or Argentina is audibly different from its European counterpart. And then there are the names that are not native to a player’s particular language but have been adapted to that language’s pronunciation rules. The English-derived first name of James Rodríguez, for example, is pronounced “Ham-es” in Columbian Spanish. For this reason, the audio files were created based on research which analysed articles and broadcast interviews in each country’s language. But, for the self-professed football fan Maximilian Hubert, it was worth the effort: “Ultimately, pronouncing the players’ names correctly is a sign of respect.”
This news was translated by Benjamin Wilson.