It’s gruelling having to read out loud the works of Russian novelists like Zhukovsky, Turgenev, Saltykov-Schedrin, Dostoyevsky, or the poets, Baratynsky, Batyushkov, Konstaninovich et al.Leo Tolstoy is simple to pronounce, but try saying out loud continually at a rapid pace the name of his infamous heroine, Anna Karenina. Don’t even attempt those she hung around with such as Kirillovich Vronsky, Stiva Arkadyevich Oblonsky, Konstantin Dmitrievich, Sergej Ivanovich Koznyshev, Princess Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya, to jumble but a few. Whew!Why couldn’t Anna be friends with Tom Smith, Fred Brown and Jane Jones?
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Lee recently wrote about pronunciation and spelling in a particularly witty offering which included the following:
Strangely I have never had any problem with the Russian novels, novelists or names which I devoured voraciously as a young man/late teenager.
It reminded me of the after-dinner story Peter Ustinov used to tell of arriving (many years ago) at the Russian border with a party of British visitors. The border officials stumbled painfully over the unusual and difficult-for-a-Russuan-to-pronounce names: Jones, Smith, Chamberlain etc (and that's before one gets to the one's the Brits can't pronounce like Cholmondelly). So when they came to the last one they were utterly delighted to find a name they could pronounce easily: Ustinov.
It also reminded me of a meeting I attended many many years ago where a singularly uncontentious matter was put to the vote and one person voted against it. On being faced with querulous looks he explained that he could not face the idea of the Chariman having to try and say 'unanimously' yet again.