By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES
WE HAVE all been there and done it, suffered a bout of foot in the mouth disease and mispronounced someone’s name incorrectly. Joe Kinnear does not have the monopoly on malapropisms, but he raised the bar to an ignominious art form during his talkSPORT interview with Andy Goldstein and Bobby Gould on Monday evening’s Sportsbar.
The Newcastle United director of football unwittingly renamed Yohan Cabaye “Yohan Kebab” while managing director Derek Llambias became former director of football Derek “Lambeezee.” There were many other name-changes and errors of facts in Kinnear’s astonishing 15-minute rant which included numerous barbs about the “snidey press.” One wonders what owner Mike Ashtray [sic] will make of it all.
Yet the fact is Brits and Irish always have difficulty with foreign names. True, there can be a fine dividing line between accuracy and being pretentious while a lot depends how a player is introduced when he comes to our shores. David Ginola’s first name has always been pronounced the French way – Jack Charlton excepted – and Sami Hyypia was always Hoopia.
Dimitar Berbatov should be BerBARtov – no more difficult that the incorrect BERbatov. The Arsenal midfielder is “Tomash Rositski” and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is “Azar.” If Gonzalo Higuain signs for Arsenal, as has been reported, start practising “IG-WAY-EEN.” As in Cockney, the “h” is silent in Spanish.
Not a lot of people know Pat van den Hauwe should have been pronounced “Horver” (the mind boggles how he would have reacted) and though Schteve McClaren has had so much stick over the way he spoke he almost caught Dutch Elm Disease, he was coach of FC “Tventuh.” Sho there.
Germany coach Joachim Löw is known as Jogi and if your keyboard does not have umlauts it’s Loew. But his surname is not pronounced Low – it brings back memories of Ray Stubbs’ Barry White-esque tribute to Peter N’lerve on Fantasy Football – because the Germany coach is Lerve. Yogi Lerve.
There are some names that would give even the most eloquent director of football, broadcaster or commentator problems. Clive Tyldesley and company will be relieved they did not work in the United States a generation ago otherwise they may have been talking about Fair Hooker (Cleveland Browns), Johnny Dickshott (Pittsburgh Pirates), Randy Raper (Alabama coach), Bear Trapp (Idaho Steelheads) and the best/worst (delete as applicable) of all: Lucious Pusey. Lucious was an Easttern Illonois linebacker, by the way, who legally changed his name to Lucious Seymour for some reason.
There are a long list of Dicks, always good for a playground laugh, but perhaps the top two are Dick Felt (Boston Patriots) and Dick Paradise – not a TV documentary on a Greek island but a Minnesota NHL star.
I am sure the names of former Czech footballer Milan Fukal and Dutch player Brian Pinas are not pronounced literally. Which is just as well.
According to “Busty, Slag and Nob End” by Russell Ash (Headline £9.99) history has given us some names that make Yohan Kebab quite acceptable. Are you sitting comfortably? Here we go…in sport there’s Ars Bandeet (Algerian footballer), Dick Paswater (NASCAR driver), Jimmy Gobble (baseball) and Chief Bender (baseball). Oh, and Luke Myring (rugby). From the world of showbiz we have Doris Condom (Any Given Sunday), Pamela Hardon (Haloween), Jennifer Shag (Automatons) and Thomas Wanker (The Day After Tomorrow).
And as for the Lord’s head groundsman…let’s not even go there.