I popped out to watch Espanyol vs. Real Madrid at the local this evening. As I was leaving I thought I’d have a “quick” look through the 20 January edition of El Periódico for Foreing Office material. It didn’t disappoint, throwing up such a plethora of examples that I asked to take the paper home so I could take pictures. The fact that all the examples below come from the same newspaper on the same day demonstrates just how rife the problem is.
I know nothing about basketball, but this looked wrong as soon as I saw it. He’s Pete Mickeal. For what it’s worth, that name also looks unusual, so I’d have probably checked Mickeal too if I’d seen that.
When I saw “Julen”—without paying attention to the surname—I immediately thought it must be a misspelling of the French name Julien, so I looked it up. Turns out he is called Julen—he’s Basque—but his surname is Aguinagalde.
I didn’t really need to check the spelling of his first name, for obvious reasons, but hey, since Jhonathan [sic] is à la mode as a first name in Latin America, perhaps people in Uganda have taken to “Thimoty”. Sure enough, my check confirms that Mr Tiroitich’s first name is spelt the same as pretty much every other Timothy on this planet. Oh, but he’s not Mr Tiroitich; he’s Mr Toroitich. How wrong can you get it!
Clare et moi looked suspicious. I’ve met French ladies called “Claire” but never called “Clare”, which in French would be pronounced differently, i.e. rhyming with bar, not with bear. I reacted to discovering the actual name of the film by exclaiming Victor Meldrew’s favourite catchphrase. The film is actually called “Clara et moi”—just like the Spanish and Catalans spell it!
I wondered whether this was supposed to say “Jamie Olsenboy”, but then realised that would make only two firms instead of three. The second firm in the list is called Elizabeth and James. So, that’s the English, not the French, spelling of Elizabeth; the word “and” not the ampersand; and “James” with an s on the end. This makes the rendering of Timothy Toroitich’s name look rather good.
Thanks, Tim! The third firm is actually spelled “Olsenboye”—but who’s counting?