Saturday, 6 July 2013

Foxy Lady

The women's final of a relatively important tennis tournament is being contested this afternoon in Wimbledon by Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli.  The English broadcast media have settled on pronouncing the former player's name as "Sabeena Lizikee".  That sounds horribly wrong to me: Lisicki is a Polish name (meaning something like "foxy"), and 'c' in Polish is pronounced 'ts'.

However, Sabine is a German name: she's a German with Polish parents, so perhaps the name is pronounced differently in Germany.  I checked on Forvo, which helpfully offers both German and Polish pronunciations: "Luzitskee" and "Leeshitska" respectively (I'm not sure about the first vowel in the German version).  (The Poles are in fact pronouncing "Lisicka" which would be a feminine form of the surname: I suppose the family has chosen not to use this variant.)

Would the player herself prefer us to use a German or a Polish rendering?  Here she is pronouncing her own name: she calls herself "Sabeen Lizikee".  Evidently she is content to follow the local (US) pronunciation - this seems to be common practice among Eastern-European tennis players, cf. Navratilova and Sharapova.

So what should the BBC do? If it wanted to please me, it would adopt the German pronunciation.  I can understand its not caring about that, but I can't see why it should have chosen to pronounce her forename in German and her surname in American.

I suppose the name Sabine comes from the Italian tribe, remembered for the abduction of its womenfolk, known to me and other admirers of Saki as the "shabby women".

Update: here's a German chat-show host using the BBC pronunciation.

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