Monday, March 5, 2007

We Just Wanted to Type His Name Again

So we were thinking some more about Lucius Pusey and wanted to clarify. The real problem isn’t that the Eastern Illinois linebacker legally changed his name or that he might flip us the bird. It’s the pronunciation.

You know it, we know it, he certainly knows it. Lucius Pusey is not pronounced how we all (well, not him) would like it to be pronounced. Lucius is surely just LOO-shus and Pusey more than likely poo-SAY. Which raises what's known here at NOTY as the Sithole Doctrine.

Way back in 1985, the NOTY winner was a fellow named Godfrey Sithole. How do you say his surname? Our post-adolescent lives consumed by beer, Nerf basketball and Atari skiing, we may not have known the exact pronunciation, or had much desire to find it out. But we sure as hell knew it wasn’t SIT-hole. (Turns out it’s sih-TOE-lay.)

Nevertheless, most members of the NOTY Committee chose to suspend disbelief and pull the trigger for Godfrey.

We did it again in 2001, electing anti-apartheid activist Tokyo Sexwale (left), which isn't spoken the way it's spelled. In 1998, we gave Falik Schtroks—certainly not ``phallic strokes''—a No. 6 seed; his first-round opponent was No. 11 Johnny Dickshot. (Dickshot finished fourth, Schtroks eleventh.) In 2005, Anus Alcoglu and Sheila Dikshit both finished in the Top 10. In 1996, in a clear act of provocation, we even nominated another Sithole, Zimbabwean liberation fighter Ndabaningi Sithole.

The dilemma here, obviously, is what to do with non-Anglo names: Go native or go phonetic? We personally think a name loses credibility when spelling is exploited for pronunication. On the other hand: 2006 runner-up Singeng Balwinder.

Back to the Sitholes. A poster on the excellent website Language Hat recounted a story about a radio newsreader friend ``who, unfamiliar with the politics of Zimbabwe,'' asked how to pronounce Ndabaningi Sithole.

Our coaching session produced confident locution but unfortunately on air it all fell apart. The "Ndabaningi" part went ok but, to the embarassment [sic] of all, his family name became Shit-Hole.

I now know never to tell someone in such a situation what the pronounciation [sic] definitely isn't.

Hmm. Maybe we shouldn’t assume we know how to say ``Lucius Pusey'' after all.