By the time you read this, Kay and I will be sitting by a swimming pool in the sunny Mediterranean for a well-deserved break in Greece. It's the first holiday we have had together for five years and my first holiday without Greg for 34 years. It is going to seem very strange, but he is in no state to travel (or be good company) and I desperately want to give Kay a good holiday after all her hard work and before she leaves home. If I am honest I am desperate too for a bit of a break from all the stresses and strains of the last five years.
In the meantime, thinking of things foreign and different, I thought I would share with you the one thing that really gets me shouting at the television. It is when people try to pronounce German names wrongly. All right, I studied German at uni and am, I suppose without wishing to blow my own trumpet (not that I have one) pretty fluent in it. I also lived in Germany for a total of four years, so I do know what I'm talking about.
I don't blame the ordinary man in the street for getting it wrong; after all I wouldn't profess to know how to pronounce something correctly in Spanish or Greek or Mongolian for that matter. But when large companies produce adverts on TV and cannot pronounce them, that is plain unacceptable, because they are teaching all of us to pronounce them incorrectly too. Even the German companies go along with the mispronunciation because they know how useless on the whole English people can be at foreign languages.
Take Braun - the company that manufactures things like hair-dryers and curling tongs. The ad-men would have us pronounce it "Brawn" to rhyme with "prawn". It must make a German's toes' curl rather than their hair, because it is pronounced "brown" like the colour which in fact it is. "Braun" is the German for the colour "brown" and is pronounced the same... "brown". Simples. Or you would think so. No, it has to rhyme with "prawn". Let's make it difficult.
Another example is the German sports car, Porsche. You will hear most people here pronounce it "Porsh", as if they have a speech impediment trying to say "posh". But German words ending in "-e" are always pronounced "-a" at the end. Thus in Germany "Porsche" is pronounced "Porsha". I always feel if you can afford to drive one, you should ****** well learn how to pronounce it properly. It always made me laugh when many years ago a previous next door neighbour - who had his own building firm - drove around in his "Porsh" thinking he was the bees' knees. In my eyes, it made him look ridiculous because he could not even pronounce the name of his car properly. I won't even go there with Audi's Vorsprung durch Technik or how many variations there are on the way people say "Volkswagen".
I could go on with more examples, but don't wish to appear pedantic and pretentious. (What, moi?) For some strange reason it does not sound hilarious when German is mispronounced. But French is another case altogether, as Inspector Clousseau from The Pink Panther and Rene Artois of 'Allo 'Allo would agree. Rant over and spread the word! The correct one, that is! If you tell five people and they tell five people, maybe eventually we'll have everyone pronouncing things correctly. I can dream....
Normal service will be resumed soon! Meanwhile think of us lapping up the Greek sun and hospitality! Now, what's Greek for "a white wine spritzer with a cherry on the top!"