Mispronounced Names

Some of the top tennis players in the world played before the very eyes of local tennis aficionados this past weekend. Among them were Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Ivanovic, all Grand Slam champions at one time or another. Local broadcast announcers had no problem pronouncing the names, except for Murray, since they are pronounced as they are spelled.

Murray, however, was pronounced differently by different broadcast people. At first I thought Vic Lima was joking when he pronounced it as Mu-ray, rhyming with the Tagalog words buhay and gulay. That was when Andy won the Wimbledon championship last year. It turns out Vic was not joking. He pronounced it consistently as Mu-ray when Andy played here last weekend.

Kabayan Noli de Castro said it as Mu-rey as in “hooray.” I thought the more sophisticated Dyan Castillejo, whose sport by the way is tennis having participated in the junior tournaments of the four Grand Slams during her teen years (I know because her father was my co-worker in an ad agency and later my client), would say it correctly.   However, I heard her say Ma-rey, like the ethnic race “Malay.” The correct pronunciation of Murray is “Marry” as when a man and woman are united formally or “Merry” as in Merry Christmas.

That brings to mind Noypits who adopt Western names but do not know the right pronunciation of the names. Among these are the names Joan, Maureen, Leigh , and Claudine. Most of those who bear those names pronounce them as Jo-an, Mawrin, Ley, and Clawdin.

One time, I called a bank and asked for Joan. I was told rather sternly that there was nobody by that name in the bank. I told the one who answered that I just go a letter from Joan Santamaria of the bank. “That’s Jo-an Santamairia, not Jon,” I was told curtly. I gave the person a lecture on the right pronunciation of Joan.  Of course, I told Joan that from then on to give everybody the correct pronunciation of her name or change the spelling of her name to Joanne.

Then there was Mau Marcelo, the winner of the TV show Philippine Idol, the local version of the American Idol. Her real name is Maureen, which she pronounced as Mawrin.   At least, Claudine Barretto says her name correctly but many of her fans call her Clowdin. I have worked with people named Leigh. All of them pronounce their name as Ley.

Maybe these ladies were named by their parents after popular movie actresses of a generation or two ago. I am sure the parents knew the right pronunciation of the names for the trailers of the movies of those actresses repeatedly said their names. They were big stars like .Joan Fontaine (an Oscar awardee for best actress and whose death last December was announced repeatedly on cable TV) or Joan Collins (of the more recent vintage television soap opera Dynasty), Maureen O’Sullivan ( the first to play Jane of the Tarzan movies), or Maureen O’Hara (of Hunchback of Notre Dame and many action movies), Vivien Leigh (of Gone With the Wind fame) or Janet Leigh (whose taking off her blouse to expose her brassiered breasts in Psycho in 1960 shocked the world).   There was an actress whose name was pronounced as Jo-an but her name was spelled Joanne. That was Joanne Woodward, also an Oscar awardee and wife of Paul Newman.

Aurora and Laura are pronounced with either the “Aw” or “O” sound, depending on whether the bearer of the name is a Pinay or ‘Cana. It is Awrora Pijuan but Princess Orora of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It is Lawra Hermosa but Lora Bush, wife of President George Bush, the junior.

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