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Double Fault

Maria Sharapova 01

Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon 2011

Break out the Boli! Scoff down the strawberries! It’s Wimbledon again! Harrah!

While we thrill to Sharapova and Hantuchova grunting it out on the manicured grass of the centre court, in the commentary boxes sports announcers are mangling their names.

What is it that sports commentators do that makes them too busy learn how to pronounce the names of the people they are being paid to inform us about?

Many commentators, notably and possibly most annoying of the lot, are several on Australia’s ABC TV and radio networks who are obsessed with pronouncing any Russian or Slavic name that is transliterated as ending in –ova to rhyme with moreover (more-OH-ver), as in shah-rah-POH-vuh. Wrong. The emphasis is on the second syllable and the POH syllable is given very short shrift: sha-RAH-pu-vah.

The first irony is that Ms Sharapova succumbed to overwhelming ignorance and now mispronounces her own name.

The second irony is that some commentators who actually know the correct pronunciations deliberately mispronounce them less they be thought to be in error.