Saying The Names

Something I feel you need to know, although in the big scheme of things, and to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, “Ilsa, it doesn’t take much to see that the pronounciation of several million Habs fans don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

You, me, Pierre Houde, Bob Cole, and whoever replaces Bob Cole, will spend the next ten years mispronouncing Alexei Emelin’s name. I know we will. Most of us aren’t Russian.

It’s not “Emelin” as it looks. It’s “Ye-MEL-in,” with a huge emphasis on the “Mel.” You have to make the ‘Mel” explode out of your mouth.

And how do I know this? I asked my Russian wife this very question just yesterday. It was “Luciena, how do you pronounce Emelin?”

And while I was at it, I checked with her about our way of saying Markov, and it’s wrong too! It’s “MARK-uv.: Heavy on the “MARK, soft on the “ov” so it sounds like “uv.”u

However, to make you feel better, we are pronouncing White, Gill, Price, Gorges, Gomez, Eller, Subban, Moen, and Cole the way they should be pronounced. And probably Pacioretty, Gionta, and Cammalleri too, but I need to ask someone who’s Italian about this. I’m also willing to bet that Weber is Weber and I’m happy to report that Lucy says we say Kostitsyn absolutely perfect.

As for Plekanec and Spacek and Budaj, it’s unknown territory.

Someone who has never heard of Jacques Martin and reads something about him somewhere might think Martin is pronounced Martin, as in Martin Short. But the majority of these people live in the Ozarks and Toronto..

And finally, when I was a truck driver and making a delivery in the Crownest’s Pass in Alberta, an older fellow and I started talking hockey. I’ve never forgotten this. He said to me, “I always liked that big Gene Bellevue.”


24 thoughts on “Saying The Names”

  1. Hey Dennis, Who was that great announcer in Toronto that had problems saying Cornwhya’
    s name in the 72 Canada Russia series?

  2. Derry, that was Foster Hewitt. He pronounced it “Cor-noy-er.” Just the way it looked to an Englishman with no sense of the French language whatsoever.

  3. Reports coming out of training camp are that Yemelin is really throwing his weight around and giving out punishing body checks.

  4. Danno, I was there today and Yemelin was tossing out hits like his life depended on it. People are going to LOVE him.

  5. thanks to you and luciena for the russian lesson. it IS important. we don’t want to sound like phil esposito pronouncing valeri kharlamov— karmaloff.

  6. Danno – you’ll also love Cole. The guy was great. Diaz wasn’t too shabby either.

    Getting back to this subject, one thing I love is when we visit other teams (especially in the States) and they pronounce some of our guys’ names wrong. I think one time Pouliot was pronounced “Poo-lee-oh”. I even heard Subban’s name pronounced wrong sometimes.

  7. Once upon a time I wanted to be a hockey player just so people could have trouble saying my name. Good ol’ polish name. It’s right up there with Wisniewski. Actually not that far off.

  8. The funniest one was from a story on Fan590 in Toronto. The host (do not know who it was) said in Phoenix a woman yelled out – you suck – ka-bib-u-lin. Right up there with Martin St. Lewis.

    Corn-WHY-a’s name pronunciation was so bad by Hewitt that I remember wondering if Hewitt could not be bothered to pronounce the Canadian names – what the heck was he doing to the Soviet ones.

    I am glad we pronounce Cole and Price correctly though.

    Now we can laugh at Bob Cole and Pierre Houde etc mis-pronouce yem-MEL-in.

  9. Pierre Houde usually asks the players how they want their names pronounced so I dont get why he’s being included in this. Personally, I rely on the players themselves. There are so many audio and videos out there in which they introduce themselves, that should be enough source to know how to pronounce their name.

    So here goes: ple-ka-nets, shpa-chek and boo-daï

  10. ColRouleBleu – we’ll see if Pierre Houde pronounces Yemelin’s name right. But having said that, if anyone will get it right, it’ll be Pierre.

  11. ColRouleBleu, regarding your little sarcastic remark about Pleks, Spacek, and Budaj, my point was, which you obviously missed, was that we probably pronounce these Euro names differently than the way they are truly pronounced. I’m very happy to know that you’ve been to the Czech Republic and Slovakia and know exactly how these names should be said. And maybe you also aren’t aware, but more often than not when someone comes from Russia or other easdtern Eurpean countries, they change thier pronounciation to make it easier for all concerned in North America. So please don’t get sarcastic with me.

  12. Stev, thanks. I’m not sure about the true way of saying Weber and you’ve brought up exactly what I was trying to say. In their own countries, often their names aren’t the way North Americans say it. The players let it slide because they understand. A big example is the Russians. They know we can never pronounce it the way it should be, just as they can’t pronounce English names perfectly. So they let their name become homogenized somewhat. Thanks for this.

  13. Dennis, I think not only do we mispronounce foreign names, we don’t realize it. We hear the player say it properly, we think we’re reproducing it properly but the player hears something completely different. As you wrote, when enough of us do it, they simply give up. For millions per year, what’s a little name mangling.

  14. Chris, I remember during the 1972 introductions in the Canadian cities, the cameras showed the Russian players laughing among themselves as the announcer called out their names. The names were absolutely mangled and I think the Russians just came to accept it. But they can’r say most of our names either so it’s even.

  15. Hey Dennis this will take you back.

    This is a highlight video of Game 4 of the 1972 Canada-Russia series played in Vancouver. The other game highlights from the series are also posted there on Youtube.

    You will hear Foster Hewitt mangle just about every Russian name on the roster.

  16. Wow, Danno. It certainly does bring me back. At the time we took Foster’s pronounciation for granted, except for his Cournoyer which was inexcusable. But whenever I was in Russia over the years and talking to Russians about the ’72 series, I saw there was a world of difference between the way they said the names and the way they are said by us. When it comes to a Russian prouncing these players names, it’s very different. We English especially tend to make these names simple and bland, but in reality, they’re pronounced with much flair and colour. Yemelin is an example. We look at it and make it sound like Reggie Lemelin. But it’s not like that at all.

  17. Dennis, I looked at the other clips and found a great goal by Yvan Cournoyer that showcases his lightning-fast speed on the ice.

    They didn’t call him the Roadrunner for nothing…

    It’s from Game Two played in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens. Cournoyer’s goal can be found at around the 1:40 mark

  18. Great clip, Danno. By the time Canada got to Russia, I guess someone had pointed out to Foster about the pronunciation of Cornoyer’s name because he was getting better at it. But it’s still weird because Cournoyer had been in the league for quite some time by then and it took Foster all that time to get it better.

  19. I forgive Foster. At least he tried, unlike Don Cherry who purposely mispronounced Jaroslav Halak’s name (and many others) and acts like he doesn’t know PK Subban’s name. It isn’t funny. It’s just disrespectful.

  20. Yeah, Danno, Cherry’s a different bird from Foster. Cherry just likes the blue collar attitude. You’re right, Foster tried. It can be funny the first time, and after that it stinks. Very disrespectful.

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