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 11-24-2019 07:48:07 PM

(enough of this, get me back)

Imaginary
Known in Serbian as
A better alternative
Bokhara
Buhara
Bukhara, if there was a stiff warning "read the kh as an aitch and surely not as a key".
Chekov
Čehov
Chekhov, assuming that "k" in "kh" means "pronounce the bloody aitch"
Dezhurova
(not)
"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.
Evanovich
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.
Frideric
Friedrich
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.
Ivonova
Ivanova
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.
Kalingrad
Kalinjingrad
Kaliningrad (two ins, hear that?)
Kalishikov
Kalašnjikov
"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.
Kasalivich
Kasalovič
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.
Kawalski
Kowalski
Kosckei
Kaščej
Kashchey would be much closer to the actual name.
Kvass
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.
Mohorivicic
Mohorovičić
If you cen spell François and Bjørk, you can find č and ć.
Ostrov
Ostrvo.
"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.
Padopoulos
Papadopulos
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.
Padopoulos
Papadopulos
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.
Palaelogos
Paleolog
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.
Papadopolis
Papadopoulos
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
Petropoulos
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
(not)
Talk to a Greek, mr John Varley. Hear him laugh at this.
Przewalksi
Przewalski
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...
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.
Schwartzchild
Švarcšild
It's BlackShield, not BlackChild: Schwartzschild. Looking at ya, Robert Silverberg.
Sergeivich
Sergejevič
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)
Shandar
Sándor
Yes, Hungarian s reads as sh, but that's no reason to go phonetic just like that. No favors, no exceptions.
Shostokovich
Šostakovič
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.
Souvarov
Suvorov
Tegan Jovanka
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.
Travnik
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
Vaselov
Vasiljev
Vasilev
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.
Vukadinovid
Vukadinović
Vukadinović is a real surname, ć may look like d to fourth-grade OCR software. Jeffry A. Landis should learnt not to trust OCR. He could actually try to check some facts, even if he writes SF.