Mispronunciations: from expresso to David De Gea | Jack Marshall’s column
But, nevertheless, there is an indisputable nails-on-a-chalkboard effect to hearing a word mispronounced. This effect ranges in potency: ‘expresso’ hits the eardrum like a spade on concrete, ‘ex-cetera’ prompts a more subtle caught-off-guard brain jolt, and ‘perscription’ makes your brain whisper ‘is that right? Is that how it’s said?’ to itself mid-conversation.
Plus, purveyors of the odd verbal faux pas can fall back on the well-trodden axiom which goes: ‘never judge a person for mispronouncing a word because it means they learned it by reading.’ Those who wield the odd ‘epitoam’ or ‘hyperbowl’ masquerading as their rather more prim cousins ‘epitome’ and ‘hyperbole’ can sleep easy. Our language is tricksy.
An inclination to be forgiving expires, however, when it comes to footballers’ names. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting Paul Merson to be able to say Khvicha Kvaratskhelia with the original Georgian inflections, but pundits calling Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea (‘Deh Heyer’) ‘David Duh Gayer’ is verging on the intentionally impudent.
Two points scream through my mind every time I hear a drive-by Duh Gayer-ing: one, you’re a professional broadcaster, it’s literally your job to get these things right; and two, you’ve surely heard a million other people call him Deh Heyer a million times - are you determined to still be wrong or do you just think everyone else is wrong instead? It annoys me more than it should.
Then again, sometimes I’m struck by an all-encompassing daisies-in-rifle-butts zen, and I think ‘who cares?’ We’re in Britain, so things will be pronounced Britishly. If one of my mates started hacking up phlegm whilst talking about his trip to BEHRLIN whilst another dropped the ‘s’ off Paris in a thick northern drawl, I’d think they’d suffered a recent head trauma.
It all comes back to live-and-let-live. So long as you get the gist (pronounced ‘jist’).