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Clive Tyldesley Explains Why He Won’t Be Pronouncing James Rodriguez’s Name Properly In The Foreseeable Future

By Chris Wright

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Round of 16 - Colombia v Uruguay - Estadio do Maracana

As part of his World Cup blog over on the Kick It Out website, ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley has explained the reasoning behind his huge decision to not pronounce James Rodriguez’s name properly throughout the tournament so far.

Despite the world and his dog now knowing that Rodriguez’s first name should be pronounced “Hamez”, Clive ain’t playin’ ball for fear of confusing us simple Brits.

It’s all a little bit self-important and pompous, but our Clive loves nothing more than to labour under the misbelief that he is a humble yet indispensable thread in the rich tapestry of the English football – so that’s probably to be expected.

Under the headline “TO JAMES OR NOT TO JAMES? THAT IS THE QUESTION”, Tyldesley writes:

“Nothing that I do or say on air creates more Twitter traffic than pronunciations. On Friday night, James Rodriguez will again take to centre stage at this wonderful World Cup. I will call him ‘Jaimz’, others will call him ‘Hamez’. By now, I think we all know who he is.

“I am in the identification business, I am not a linguist. Recognising more than seven hundred players at a World Cup makes for an interesting investigation into what identifies us from one another. Colour is the single most important distinguishing feature – skin colour, hair colour, boot colour, wristband colour. Once I have worked out who is who, my job is to try and let the rest of you know.

“Believe it or believe it not, I do try to get pronunciations correct. The football website, Goal.Com, actually has a page on which you can listen to native speakers announcing the names of each of the players involved in this tournament. Listen, learn, rehearse, repeat. Easy! And, yes, in his native Spanish language James Rodriguez becomes ‘Hamez Rod-reeg-ez’.

“The complications and dilemmas come when – like me – you are not a native Spanish speaker, or any other ‘speaker’ but plain English. If some of the most famous of the household names at this World Cup were to be pronounced totally correctly, familiar players like Van Persie, Ronaldo and Luiz would suddenly sound rather unfamiliar.

“So, at the risk of upsetting the multi-linguists, I admit that I do lean towards ‘Anglicising’ names for popular consumption. I believe it is far more important not to misuse words such as ‘tragedy’ and ‘disaster’ in football commentary.

“But pronunciations will continue to divide and infuriate. I remember Ruud Gullit working with ITV as a World Cup panellist and saying that the guttural sound of his surname is simply not one that English speakers make.

“I have steered clear of trying to refer to Belo Horizonte as ‘Bello Horry-zontsscchhh’ because my clumsy attempt at speaking Portuguese would probably still be wrong, so why pretend? The fellow that kept winning Wimbledon in the seventies had a name that actually sounded nothing like Bjorn Borg in Swedish.

“I am also averse to changing players’ names halfway through their careers if possible. When Belgium played England just before the last European Championship finals, both Martin Tyler and I agreed to seek out Eden Hazard and establish the correct pronunciation of his name ahead of his move to Chelsea.

“He informed us in the Wembley tunnel that he was ‘Ay-den Azzar’. By the end of that evening, my @mentions file had been besieged by Twitter followers saying ’why don’t you just call him ‘Haz-ard’. And, do you know, they had a point.

“So I will not be intentionally trying to wind anyone up when I shout ‘Jaimz Rod-reeg-ez’ on Friday. Quite the opposite.

“Personally, I think it would be a little perverse to refer to a man with ‘J-A-M-E-S’ on his back as anything other than ‘Jaimz’ on British television unless a different pronunciation of his name had been long established – particularly as he was happily scoring goals for Porto in Europe two years ago as ‘Jaimz Rod-reeg-ez’ on our channels.

“I can offer one great consolation to anyone who disagrees, and finds me guilty on many counts of butchering words and names… virtually nobody pronounces my surname correctly!”

Interesting – but that’s not really the way it works, now is it Clive?

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By Chris on July 2nd, 2014 in Media, Newsnow, World Cup. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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16 Responses to “Clive Tyldesley Explains Why He Won’t Be Pronouncing James Rodriguez’s Name Properly In The Foreseeable Future”

  1. Tom says:

    How hard is it to say HAMEZ? It’s not like we don’t have those sounds in the English language.

  2. the69ersfc says:

    What a load of self obsessed, self important waffle from Mr.T
    Barry Davies is the benchmark for a top class football commentator. Would he feel the need to come out with all that tosh? I doubt it.

  3. Mr Dude says:

    Completely agree with clive. Noone calls Ciaran Clarke “Key-rawn” as it’s suppoed to be pronounced. He’s right to pronounce them how they are read. Kim Kallstrom; surname starts with a K yet is properly pronounced Shullstrom. Anyone remember Jaap Stam (Yuup shtum). No attempt is EVER made with middle eastern or eastern asian names at all so why not just pronounce all names comfortably. Hray-al Mah-riid, Barthelona, Sporting Hee-haw. Unnecessary.

  4. squiggle says:

    @ Tom

    Exactly. I understand changing the pronunciation slightly when a language doesn’t normally have those sounds (for example, anglicising the ‘r’ in ‘Alain Prost’). But completely changing the pronunciation? Very annoying.

    I didn’t realise that any English speakers didn’t know how to pronounce ‘Eden Hazard’, apart from those who can barely pronounce English.

  5. Mr Dude says:

    Completely agree with clive. Noone calls Ciaran Clarke “Key-rawn” as it’s supposed to be pronounced. He’s right to pronounce them how they are read. Kim Kallstrom; surname starts with a K yet is properly pronounced Shullstrom. Anyone remember Jaap Stam (Yuup shtum). No attempt is EVER made with middle eastern or eastern asian names at all so why not just pronounce all names comfortably. Hray-al Mah-riid, Barthelona, Sporting Hee-haw. Unnecessary.

  6. barf says:

    I don’t get what the big hoo-haa is to be honest. It’s been something that’s been part and parcel of commentary since I can remember.

    If anything, they come off a bit pretentious and often wrong when trying to get a Spanish inflection in here, a French twang there.

    You can’t have it both ways. My name is as British as they come, but I don’t get my knickers in a twist when someone Greek can’t pronounce it right.

  7. Joni Trôns says:

    As a Welshman, I’m quite used to the utter lack of effort by my neighbours from across the border when attempting to pronounce anything other than “normal” English names!

  8. You suck cock says:

    So i’ll say Clive “Taeel-Des-Lay”, alright mate?
    Lazy retarded english twat.

  9. Fnarf says:

    I’m guessing he’s one of those twaffles who keeps calling Argentina “Argentinia” too.

    This is what Englishmen are well-known for across the globe: the people who can’t be bothered to make even the slightest effort to pronounce things correctly. Getting them wrong has always been a point of pride.

  10. Ken says:

    Anyone heard the world football phone in? According to tim legandino vickery, the brazilians pronounce Jonathan Woodgate ‘woodgeegatee’. Anyone Insulted that they pronounce it differently? Of course not.

  11. stoffel says:

    I’m astonished he thought that much about it. He doesn’t think much about the rest of the shite he spurts out.

  12. LBRL says:

    One commentator said recently he shall be calling him HAMES, otherwise it would be like calling Thierry Henry as Terry Henry….Think it was on the BBC last week. Anyone remember who it was who said that?

  13. Melba says:

    Not big deal, we all know who the man is !!!

  14. squiggle says:

    I don’t find mispronunciation especially insulting, I just find it irritating that some people are content to stumble about in a fog.

  15. Brodie of Milton says:

    “James” i.e. “Ha-mez”, is not a traditional spelling in Spanish/Latino/Hispanic culture. His parents chose the English spelling of the name for him for whatever reason. It’s actually a rather cool name if you ask me, and I am fairly sure he could care less how we anglos pronounce it; he probably digs it

  16. Joe says:

    Surely the main issue is the reason he sometimes gets his first name, sometimes his last, depending on what part of the world he is being marketed. They should have just left the factory model name printed on the side of the the manufacturers box : Latino Christiano SoccerMom Product Shifter.

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