tin ear names

>>In Soviet SF they used to parade a lot of Anglophone persons, and rarely got their names to sound right. I remember one "Rai Rup" - supposedly a rich American. Ever heard of anyone called Rye Roop? Me neither. But let's see it the other way around. How do the Anglophones imagine foreign names. The days of Soviet isolationism are gone, the Web has covered the Earth, we're supposed to move freely and can access anything in a nanojiffy, right? Not always so - sometimes, nothing beats laziness.

last refreshed 10-09-2022 09:44:25 AM

(enough of this, get me back)

Known in Serbian as
A better alternative
in „Accusations“ by Lois Tilton, 2nd novel in Babylon 5 universe. Obviously Straczinsky didn't see this, he'd know. There's Bogdanov in russian, Bogdanović in serbian, and I'd say it's impossible that the writer never heard of Peter Bogdanovich.
Bukhara, if there was a stiff warning "read the kh as an aitch and surely not as a key".
Chekhov, assuming that "k" in "kh" means "pronounce the bloody aitch"
"Dežurni" means "on duty for the day", from "de jour". The surname is purely fictitious and inplausible. Ben Bova has spent too many years publishing SF where such things were normal, but this was published in 1999, when he could get a Russian on the phone in 20 minutes.
Ivanovič, Ivanović
This attempt in phonetic spelling comes from a language which always puts history above phonetics. There was never an Evan among Slavic names. Ivan, yes.
Georg Friedrich Händel is quite different from George Frideric Handel... and that's music, so why are tin ears involved here?
Irina Fedorona
Irina Fjodorovna
Irina Fyodorovna - because that's how it sounds and because the feminine patronyms alwyys end in -ovna, -ova, -ovska(ya), -evna and such, never on -ona. Do your homework, Cherry Wilder. You wrote that in the nineties, when you had Russians at hand - you could have names checked.
at least they got the gender right... and this was not in the credits, just the viewer's reviews, but more than once. In the piece itself, the role is named properly.
Kaliningrad (two ins, hear that?)
"the Kalishikov assault weapon" - [Reuters, 12-28-2016] or Chuck Sheppard retelling it. One would imagine they would have heard that it's Kalashnikov. It's a famous name.
Because there's almost no slavic surnames ending in -ivich without a corresponding name ending in -van or -va (e.g. Trivan-Trivić). Name Kasalivan never existed. The only way they (in the movie "Chain reaction") could have justified this is that someone was very deaf at Ellis Island. OTOH, surname Kasalović exists.
Kashchey would be much closer to the actual name.
Kovač, Kovács
I to u špansko engleskom filmu
a russian soft drink with a slight fizz, made of bread water and yeast
Alternately, write a new version of "Beyond the wall", mr Justin Stanchfield, and have an American as a character whose only born name is Pepsi.
Lilo Topchev
(unknown) Topčev
In Philip K Dick's "The zap gun", this is allegedly the east bloc's weapon designer, a female. While "topče" is a little cannon, which is a nice touch, at the time PKD wrote this most slavic languages, including bulgarian, had -eva suffix for female last names. Lilo is unimaginable as a woman's first name. It should have ended with an -a to be plausible.
If you cen spell François and Bjørk, you can find č and ć.
spelling k as c is regular in romanic languages, and a few germanic languages where they borrowed from latin or from the first bunch; in slavic languages it never happened. Found in fench movie „Chrysalis“, 1996.
"Ostrov" means "island" in Russian. Ostrovskiy is the derived surname. Cherry Wilder's another missing piece of homework. Can't imagine anyone writing a whole long story about a Russian family and never bothering to check the names.
Ursula K. LeGuin was known after all the imaginary names which she built deftly and with exquisit sense of the (equally imaginary) place where they came to be. This time, in "Newton's sleep", she deals with the only successful generation ship leaving the dying Earth, and there are real earthen names for the crew. Except this one.
Otherwise very precise and careful with names, this one time Ursula LeGuin seriously slipped. Two dozen other Earth names in "Newton's sleep" were OK. The Greeks are just unlucky with the choice of their most popular surname.
Not that this version of the name is nonexistent... but the historically correct Paleologos (or Palaiologos) wins 30:1 when googling, and the latter covers only an inscription on a roman coin.
Of top ten Greek last names, all end with -poulos. -polis is a fitting suffix for an ancient Greek city, not a person living nowadays.
Petropolus, Solon
Allowing that some future Greek would take the ancient legislator's surname for first name, same deafness issue as with other co-blunderers on this list. Guilty this time, James Patrick Kelly.
Popodopoulis, Agamemnon
Talk to a Greek, mr John Varley. Hear him laugh at this.
Mary Rosenblum in "Lion walk" - c'mon, how hard is it to look it up? This wasn't written in XIX century, it's after 2010 - so it's ten seconds. Once is a typo, twice is tired typo, three times is stupid.
Rai Rup, or Rai Roop
Ray, perhaps, but in russian Rai sounds like Rye...
Aleksey Tolstoy couldn't really have a clue as to what normal american names were at the time. So he took a shot and missed.
It's BlackShield, not BlackChild: Schwartzschild. Looking at ya, Robert Silverberg.
The extra e exists, no matter how you go around it, mr. Vinge. It's a whole syllable. Try Sergeyevich. Yet the same writer got other russian surnames pretty much right)
Yes, Hungarian s reads as sh, but that's no reason to go phonetic just like that. No favors, no exceptions.
There, it's possible that such a surname exists somewhere in Russia, but my bet is that Michael Swanwick is just as deaf as the others.
Siropopulos (Siropopoulos)
...because out of ten most popular greek surnames, ten end with ...poulos, and none with ....popolous. Deaf of the day, Larry Niven in "Ptavvs".
Tegan Jovanka
but only as a feminine first name, not as a last; it's actually a feminine version of Jovan (equivalent to John). Last names ending in -ka exist in czech, slovakian and perhaps a few other related languages, however they all have different versions of Jovan/John, usually Jan.
it's a name of a city in Bosnia, not a person's name
OK it's almost sixty years too late to fix this, but Dan Barry used this as a villain's name in an episode of Flash Gordon
Vasic as an Albanian last name
Vasić is a mostly Serbian name; any derived Albanian last names would be spelt with -iqi instead of -ić
Find a real Albanian name.
Victor Drazen, as a name of a Serbian character in a video game
Unknown. Viktor maybe, although that's rare; Dražen (with a ž, and not to be pronounced as drayzen) is not a last name; it's a first, and it's predominantly Croatian.
Find a name.
Vukadinović is a real surname, ć may look like d to fourth-grade OCR software. Jeffry A. Landis should have learnt not to trust OCR. He could actually try to check some facts, even if he writes SF.