I’m not so good with the making of the words and pronunciation of the sounds and the conveying of the meaning and the whatnot.
I was recently reminded of this whilst running the Stockholm Marathon. The headline sponsor was ASICS, a Japanese athletic equipment company that I’m most familiar with due to their running gear.
I’ve always pronounced it “A-SIX” but the race announcers kept saying, “Welcome to the ‘AXE-s’ Stockholm Marathon.”
Much in the same way that we here in the US pronounce “adidas” as “a-DEE-das,” the rest of the world seems to pronounce it with an entirely different emphasis: “ADD-E-das.”
This isn’t the same thing as the cultural spelling that leads to different pronunciations. Believe me, if anybody knows the value of an “I” it’s this guy. For example, in the US we spell it “aluminum” and pronounce it as such. The rest of the world has the 13th element on the Periodic Table (Al) as “aluminIum,”(EDITOR’S NOTE: ‘I’ capitalized for emphasis only… it’s not spelled SanDeE-STAR style) which when you think about how a lot of the other elements end in “-ium” maybe there really should be an “I” in there.
I actually try and avoid buying a brand of shoe because I’m self conscious about asking for it. I feel like every time I try and say the name, the clerk looks at me like I’m an unfrozen cave man traveling through time trying to blend in on a an alien world that used to be earth but now is overrun with super intelligent but cuttingly sarcastic youths. Which come to think of it, might be an entirely accurate description of me.
In any case, to this day I still don’t know how to pronounce “Saucony.”
I always want to say “sauce-o-knee.” But it might be “SAW-cone-E.” They’re an American company and I want to support them as they make a great shoe… or have in the past for me. But I wish they would use their parent company name — Wolverine World Wide. There’s a name I can remember.
All of this brings to mind two of my short-lived drama days. In a high school play I directed and costarred in. It was about a chance encounter with an agent that has a obsessed guy think he has a shot of writing a script for Al Pacino with his writing partner. He breaks down all of Pacino’s movie roles to determine the ideal character for him to play. During the monologue, I’d always stumbled over “Serpico.” I wanted to say “sir-PICO” as in I guess the knight of a street in Los Angeles. Even after watching the movie wherein they say Pacino’s character’s name no less than 738 times, I still struggled with it (“it rhymes with Pepsi-co” I think somebody told me). And yet on the day of the competition performance, I did what I always do. I slurred the word and went as quickly as possible over it, hoping the speed would cover up my naivety and shortcomings. In normal every day conversations I often speak too quickly and try and hide how little I know as I think talking fast makes me sound like I know what I’m doing… when in fact 99.734% of the time I have no clue… and the other 0.266% of the time I have at best half a clue.
The other mis-speak came in my freshman year at UNC when I did a play for my now uber-friend Brent Simon. There was a line about somebody pulling a “diva” moment. I pronounced it as “DIE-va” and Brent pulled me aside to correct me. He didn’t do it in front of other people, it was just a quick, subtle aside so as not to embarrass me. It was a kindness I always appreciated. I do recall arguing at first with him that I thought it derived etymologically from Lady GoDiva but that turned out to be entirely false. Then as now I should always listen to Brent.
So the point of all this is that I guess I’m glad I signed with Brooks. I know how to spell and pronounce that corporate overlord. Of course that might just be the very definition of a xenophobic.
To be fair, nobody else offered to sponsor me, let alone promised me a signing bonus. Until I receive my dollar, I’m a free agent and willing to renegotiate. Any volunteers? Or should I say, any vol-LOON-tears?