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Question to English native speakers
Thread poster: Iza Szczypka

Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:24
English to Polish
+ ...
Sep 24, 2003

Last week I had a client who wanted me to issue a certificate stating that his surname is difficult to pronounce for English native speakers - he wanted to use the certificate to officially change it (he intends to emigrate). I refused him for many reasons, not the least of those being I considered that an exaggeration. However, I'd like to know your opinion.
The surname is "Mlynarsky" - dark "l", "y" > "i" like in "bit", "a" can be pharyngial or not - doesn't matter much in Polish.
Is it difficult to pronounce?

[Edited at 2003-09-24 21:21]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:24
Italian to English
It depends ... Sep 24, 2003

Iza Szczypka wrote:

The surname is "Mlynarsky" - dark "l", "y" > "i" like in "bit", "a" can be pharyngial or not - doesn't matter much in Polish.
Is it difficult to pronounce?


No, it's not, but the "Mlyn-" combination *looks* a bit challenging, particularly as the "l" has a little line through it, if I'm not mistaken.

Still, you can find much more difficult-to-pronounce stuff on any road map of Wales, for example.

Cheers,

Giles


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
German to Italian
+ ...
? Sep 24, 2003

Hi, there's one thing I don't understand: is Mr Mlynarsky Polish? And what's the matter if his family name is difficult to pronounce for British people? I wouldn't care if my name were mispronounced by foreigners - which, by the way, regularly happens Sometimes my family name is misspelt even by Italian native speakers (Lilly or so), but who cares?

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Gavin Bruce  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:24
German to English
Silly Sep 24, 2003

All Polish words are difficult for English speakers to pronounce. Do you think you should stop using them? I would think the man's name would be more important to him than who is trying to say it.

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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:24
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
NO! Sep 24, 2003

My maiden name is Shaw, a nice well-known British surname - think of George Bernard, of international repute. I now live in Germany, and before I married Herr Scheibelein I was repeatedly called "Miss Shove" by the Germans!

So no matter what your name is, someone, somewhere is bound to mispronounce it and misspell it. In fact, I even received a bill from the gynaecologist's billing centre(!!) addressed to "Herr Gillian Scheibelein" - the Germans think that Gillian is a male Christian name. You should hear the horrible pronunciations of Gillian (mostly with a hard G) and Jill (Dscheell, Chill) is even worse. I'm no better off when I go to English-speaking countries, they can't pronounce Scheibelein! So I just shrug and get on with it. It is certainly annoying, but I would never change my name to make things easier for other people. My name is part of who I am and where I come from. It is like denying your ancestors.


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:24
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The man intends to emigrate (or so he informed me) ... Sep 24, 2003

which I did not tell you before, but it seems your feelings are similar to mine. Another reason I refused him was I got suspicious...

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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:24
Italian to English
+ ...
No Sep 24, 2003

Not at all, Iza - we might not pronounce it correctly, but it is fairly easy to say.

I think I'd have serious troubles pronouncing your surname, though

[Edited at 2003-09-24 21:29]


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:24
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's as easy as ABC, Amy Sep 24, 2003

Amy Williams wrote:

I think I'd have serious troubles pronouncing your surname, though

[Edited at 2003-09-24 21:29]


Sz > "sh" like in "ship"
cz > "ch" like in "chair"
y > "i" like in "bit"
p > p
k > k
a > ah like in "Sarah"
You're welcome to say it now!
But I must admit that when my daughter came to the UK for the first time, the first question she heard (preceding even the standard 'How was the journey?') was "How can you have a surname that contains just a single vowel, and at the very end at that?" The answer is simple: y is a semi-vowel in Polish.

[Edited at 2003-09-24 22:43]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not so difficult Sep 24, 2003

Amy Williams wrote:

Not at all, Iza - we might not pronounce it correctly, but it is fairly easy to say.

I think I'd have serious troubles pronouncing your surname, though

[Edited at 2003-09-24 21:29]


I thought the same!

I am called Marijke (a standard Dutch female name). Here in the UK they all think I am a man on the phone (I think I have a deep voice too). Sometimes it is very annoying (specially after the third Sir) but sometimes it is very handy (they think they are talking to my husband and give you more information and get straight to the point). I would never, though, change my name. I didn't change my surname either when I married. I still use my maiden name, I like it so much!


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 04:24
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Another aspect of the question Sep 24, 2003

I'm not going to talk about if it's difficult or not to pronounce it.

When I became French in the documents I had to sign and fill, I had the option to decide to "franciser" (make sound French) my name. I didn't want because my name is easier to spell in French than many French names, and I didn't mind that it could sound "foreign", but I appreciated that this possibility existed for people who should like to.

The most important is to feel at ease with your name, and if a certificate would have helped that man to be happy because the authorities would have accepted it, I would have given it to him. I don't understand why you would have enough authority to dress such a certificate (it seems that it wasn't a translation).


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:24
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly, Claudia Sep 24, 2003

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

I don't understand why you would have enough authority to dress such a certificate (it seems that it wasn't a translation).


That was one of the reasons why I refused him - I feel I am a translator, not a linguist (that is why I am checking the matter with native speakers here). I also checked with my supervising court if I am authorised to issue any certificates at all and they had significant doubts. However, they said that if there was a court case involving a linguistic problem, they'd probably use the services of a sworn translator, just because sworn translators in Poland are court-appointed experts at the same time, while they'd have a problem finding a court-appointed expert in linguistics.


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:24
Italian to English
We are multicultural whether we like it or not. Sep 24, 2003

One of my school mates was a certain Julian Mlynarsky. I can't pretend it was easy to pronounce but Welsh names are much worse!

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
English to Polish
+ ...
Maybe it's too early Sep 25, 2003

but for me this is the post of the week!
Like Russell said - _all_ Welsh people should change their names, as should a whole bunch of other nations. Mr. Mlynarsky (or is it M³ynarski?) should get a life and then get on with it. I suppose he wanted his name changed to "Miller" - "mlyn" in Polish means "mill".

hah!
cheers,
Pawel Skalinski
(name unchanged since birth, especially that if you pronounce my first name in English, it sounds like "Paul", which is what it is).


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:24
Italian to English
+ ...
Thanks, Iza Sep 25, 2003

I had a go, but it wasn't very successful!

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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 08:24
French to English
+ ...
cross about gross Sep 25, 2003

[quote]Gillian Scheibelein wrote:

My maiden name is Shaw, a nice well-known British surname - think of George Bernard, of international repute. I now live in Germany, and before I married Herr Scheibelein I was repeatedly called "Miss Shove" by the Germans!

So no matter what your name is, someone, somewhere is bound to mispronounce it and misspell it. In fact, I even received a bill from the gynaecologist's billing centre(!!) addressed to "Herr Gillian Scheibelein" - the Germans think that Gillian is a male Christian name. You should hear the horrible pronunciations of Gillian (mostly with a hard G) and Jill (Dscheell, Chill) is even worse.
Well, as one with a family name of "Cross" I have NEVER got used to receiving mail, essentially bills - to add insult to injury, in the name of "Gross".


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