What's in a name?

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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Simon Spivack
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What's in a name?

Post by Simon Spivack » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:06 pm

Why do some English language accounts unnecessarily use foreign names and pronunciations? The English version should be preferred as it should trip more easily off a native English speaker's tongue. I have never understood why any English speaker should prefer the Spanish pronunciation of Quixote; how do those gentlemen pronounce quixotic?

Consider Volume 1 of the second edition of The Life & Games of Akiva Rubinstein.

Every English (and American) schoolboy ought to have heard of the patriarch Abraham. Guess what the Hebrew name is, correct Avraham (ditto Abram/Avram). The correct English first name of Rubinstein is Akiba, save for those who prefer affectations. I should imagine Gerald Abrahams's sense of humour was in play, if he had one, or he was showing off, when he wrote Akiva.

The Hebrew letters bet and vet are often written the same way, hence the supposed mystery.

The authors of this book further blundered without reason, they added something that could have been omitted. On the penultimate paragraph on page 17 one reads: "No doubt his very religious family named him after the great Jewish law giver of the same name." Anyone who has seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof ought to have doubts. It is vastly more plausible that Akiba was named after a recently deceased relative: the idea being that the name should not die.

George Szaszvari
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by George Szaszvari » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:25 pm

[quote="Simon Spivack"]Why do some English language accounts unnecessarily use foreign names and pronunciations? The English version should be preferred as it should trip more easily off a native English speaker's tongue. I have never understood why any English speaker should prefer the Spanish pronunciation of Quixote; how do those gentlemen pronounce quixotic?

The only reason I see for "naturalizing" a foreign name or expression into one's own langauge is unfamiliarity with the
foreign language in question, or even simply laziness. E.g., the Russians call the Thames something like "teeyems". or
the Brits and Yanks usually pronounce Salzburg something like "saltz-burg", because that is how it sounds as spelled
in English, when in German it should sound more like "zaaltz-boorg". One might also argue that the original sound often
captures the spirit and feeling of the name or word far better than the naturalized corruption. Is it not true that English
has a vast vocabulary and richness of expression simply because it borrows so much from so many foreign tongues,
both archaic and modern? If so, then it could be argued that there is less excuse for English speakers to corrupt the
original (foreign) sound. Therefore, if you don't pronounce Szászvári as a native Hungarian would, then you've badly
screwed up!! ;0)))))

Michael Jones
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by Michael Jones » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:12 pm

Simon Spivack wrote:I have never understood why any English speaker should prefer the Spanish pronunciation of Quixote
Because pronouncing it the English way deprives one of the opportunity for bad puns regarding a donkey named Oatie.

George Szaszvari
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by George Szaszvari » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:55 pm

Why do some English language accounts unnecessarily use foreign names and pronunciations? The English version should be preferred as it should trip more easily off a native English speaker's tongue. I have never understood why any English speaker should prefer the Spanish pronunciation of Quixote; how do those gentlemen pronounce quixotic?

How about "chaotic"?

....Every English (and American) schoolboy ought to have heard of the patriarch Abraham.

Und vot about Velsh, Scotch und Eirish schulboys, even schulgirls, not to mention Ozzi, Sud Afrikaan...?

.... I should imagine Gerald Abrahams's sense of humour was in play, if he had one, or he was showing off, when he wrote Akiva.

Kinda reminds me of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, variously spelled Aravinda, etc.
Gerry Avrams, a fine scholar and author, as well as being a most interesting chessplayer, was often inebriated with
the exuberance of his own verbosity. I heard he had a witty sense of humor. Surviving older players who knew him
can verify or elaborate on this...

Simon Spivack
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by Simon Spivack » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:36 pm

George Szaszvari wrote:The only reason I see for "naturalizing" a foreign name or expression into one's own langauge is unfamiliarity with the
foreign language in question, or even simply laziness.
Paris. Furthermore, what if one simply can't pronounce the word? (e.g. Japanese speakers have problems correctly pronouncing words with the letters "l" and "r")
George Szaszvari wrote:
Simon Spivack wrote:Every English (and American) schoolboy ought to have heard of the patriarch Abraham.
Und vot about Velsh, Scotch und Eirish schulboys, even schulgirls, not to mention Ozzi, Sud Afrikaan...?
Because erstwhile schoolboys born in Cork don't even know to recapture on f5 with the g-pawn in the basic KID tabiya; preferring, instead, when in Munich, to challenge the patriarch of Soviet chess by flinging forward a bishop's cassock. A nab that horrified Bronstein, hence his famous quote.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:06 pm

Simon Spivack wrote:Because erstwhile schoolboys born in Cork don't even know to recapture on f5 with the g-pawn in the basic KID tabiya; preferring, instead, when in Munich, to challenge the patriarch of Soviet chess by flinging forward a bishop's cassock. A nab that horrified Bronstein, hence his famous quote.
A while back, the discussions turned to games between English players and world champions so I looked up the famous 1958 game between Alexander and Botvinnik. In contrast to Russian schoolboys, Hungarian chess engines are quite happy to take on f5 with the Bishop in the game position and reckon Alexander could have later improved his queenside counterplay.

George Szaszvari
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by George Szaszvari » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:30 am

Simon Spivack wrote:
George Szaszvari wrote:The only reason I see for "naturalizing" a foreign name or expression into one's own langauge is unfamiliarity with the
foreign language in question, or even simply laziness.
Paris. Furthermore, what if one simply can't pronounce the word? (e.g. Japanese speakers have problems correctly pronouncing words with the letters "l" and "r")

Exactly the unfamiliarity problem. So the Japs are exempted, but what about all the other freaking foreigners?

More seriously, to digress, your reference to Bronstein conjured up images of young chess players who survived
WWII to become gritty and effective competitors in the great era of post war chess. Bronstein (rejected for active
service) was still given a job by some officer or kommissar to keep waiting soldiers occupied by playing chess with
them on the Stalingrad front, young Petrosian sweeping the streets to earn a crust of bread... it tells us something
about what made these characters tick, like our own parents who survived those difficult times... Your dissertation
on Bohatychuk in another thread, demonstrating excellent research, judges him as some kind of great Nazi beast.
Of course, like the Westerner, a man has to do what a man has to do, as you did, but without wanting to be
seen as some kind of Nazi apologist, I just wish to add that people had their political views largely shaped by
early experiences, education and did what they had to to survive in those terrible times, often without much
understanding of the bigger picture. So atrocities were perpetrated on all sides (the victors write the history
books) and knowing that Brit and Yank soldiers often did not take prisoners in the heat of battle, so what does
one expect from soldiers of non-signatory nations to the Geneva convention? Also note that many just changed
sides as the wind blew. E.g., Yugoslav groups were notorious for that in WWII and there were quite a few
ex-Soviet POWs who preferred to swear allegiance to their captors, don a German uniform and fill in the gaps
of German units, as were found at Normandy 1944, for instance, to get regular food and relative physical comfort
rather than rot in a POW camp or starve as a slave laborer. Even the rather loathesome George Soros (laughing
perpetrator of Black Wednesday in 1986 and World Government advocate) had to wheel and deal with Nazis to
survive Eichmann's ethnic cleansing of Budapest in 1944 into the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Even if I find Soros
rather Nazi-like in his actions and views today, who can blame him and his family at the time for realizing what was
happening and doing what they needed to? Did you ever see that old BBC TV play about how the Israelis captured
one they thought was a Nazi camp commandant, had the SS numbers indelibly inked on his arm, how he testified
as a gloating Nazi would (pretty much like Eichmann did), and how many witnesses condemned him? .... until one
survivor of the camp in question recognized him as a surviving fellow inmate! Then arose the soul searching questions
about why a camp survivor would ink his own arm with SS numbers and pretend to be the very one who victimized
him and so many others... it was an insight into one of those ironic Jewish statements about self-loathing and ultimately
teaching his accusers a profound lesson... The point of all this raving? Okay, I got carried away, but let's also try and
understand the psychology of people like Bohatyrchuk rather than just condemning them.

George Szaszvari
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by George Szaszvari » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:05 pm

George Szaszvari wrote:........Did you ever see that old BBC TV play about how the Israelis captured
one they thought was a Nazi camp commandant, had the SS numbers indelibly inked on his arm, how he testified
as a gloating Nazi would (pretty much like Eichmann did), and how many witnesses condemned him? .... until one
survivor of the camp in question recognized him as a surviving fellow inmate!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_in_the_Glass_Booth

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: What's in a name?

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:01 pm

Simon Spivack wrote:Why do some English language accounts unnecessarily use foreign names and pronunciations?
Maybe because the foreign name is the original and correct one?

Paolo (not Paul)

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