Archive for June, 2018

Peeve addendum

June 30, 2018

In my last post I suggested that adding accent marks to the Latin transcriptions of names on road signs in Greece would help people pronounce them relatively more correctly.

But watching World Cup matches on American TV has reminded my that accent marks are not necessarily heeded (as I already mentioned with regard to  Bacardí).

I heard players whose jerseys are marked MÚJICA, GIMÉNEZ and CÁCERES referred to by commentators (not all) as moo-HEE-ka, HIM-en-ez and ka-SER-es. And while the name of Roberto Martínez, the manager of the Belgium team, was accented correctly this time, I have a definite recollection of him being called Martinez when he coached Everton in the English Premier League.

Clearly, then, accent marks are no guarantee of correct accentuation. But I still think my idea is good, since there are people who do pay attention to details.

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Another alphabet peeve

June 26, 2018

A few months ago I wrote a critique of some versions of the Latin alphabet that have been adopted in the last 200 years by several languages, leading the some conflicts or difficulties that could have been avoided.

My latest peeve results from a trip across northern Greece that my wife and I took a few weeks ago, and concerns the Latin alphabet that is used for the transcription of Greek place names on road signs.

We visited such places as Ioannina, Kastoria, Florina and Edessa. In Greek they are, respectively, Ιωάννινα, Καστοριά, Φλώρινα and Έδεσσα, with accent marks clearly indicating the stress. But, as I have written, English-speakers have the tendency to stress vowel-final words (except those ending in y) on the penultimate syllable, and their default pronunciation — and those of Spanish-speakers as well — for these names (if they aren’t familiar with them) would be Ioannina, Kastoria, Florina and Edessa.

Why don’t the Greeks, then, put accent marks on the transcribed names? It isn’t too late — volunteers could fan out across Greece and with a stroke of a paintbrush make signs that read Ioánnina, Kastoriá, and so on.

The better pronunciation resulting from such an effort would be pleasing to hosts and visitors alike.