Foreign names are always a nightmare for us English. We just don’t do overseas, despite the Empire.
We tend to pronounce most vowels as “uh”, even the indefinite article “a” — uh book, uh politician, etc. Lately though, the American usage “ay” has crept in, so, ay book, ay politician. Not only is this ugly — to my ears, anyway — but it slows down a sentence and makes it sound mechanical, rather like those computers that talk back to you.
English, as she is spoke, is an organic thing, taking on board a wide array of variations, localisms — very fashionable — and just plain wrongisms.
However, the current confusion in the spelling of Arabic, and related names is a pain, especially if you have to refer to them in text form. Take the beleaguered Libyan President Muammar (is that right?) Gaddafi. The BBC spells it as at left. However, The Sunday Times reverses the number on the “d” and “f”, so Gadaffi.
Guido Fawkes manages to spell it both ways in his latest email. But then I believe his former career was in hedge funds. You can take a chap out of the City …
Does it matter? Gad—- will be gone soon, won’t he?
Usually, our sophisticated press and broadcast media arrives at a consensus and that’s that. A recent exception was The Times‘ insistence on “Taleban”, rather than Taliban. They also led the charge to do away with capital letters, as in, “the queen”. I’ve been quietly waiting for “archbishop of canterbury”, but it hasn’t happened yet. Any odds on “rupert murdock”?
Shall we settle on “Gadafi”?
Doesn’t look quite right, does it?
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