Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ireland - Nul Point. America - Nul Point.

Shame on you Ireland. Well, certain factions within the Irish government anyway.

Hot on the coat tails of my blog yesterday comes the announcement that blasphemy may still be made a criminal offence in Ireland. This subject raised its ugly head a month or so ago when it was proposed by Jutice Minister Dermot Ahern. As reported in The Guardian by Padraig Reidy:

'Nobody wanted this law: no one can think of a single thundering priest, austere vicar, irate rabbi or miffed mullah ever calling for tougher penalties for blasphemy. Certainly there were the frequent, and frequently ignored missives from Armagh, warning the Irish not to abandon God for 4x4s and Nintendo Wiis. [...] But never did anyone suggest we needed tough blasphemy laws. Until the justice minister, Dermot Ahern, decided we needed to fill the "void" left by our lack of one.'

Just as I think we're moving towards a state of affairs where everyone's right to believe what they want is enshrined in our human rights legislation, along comes some political nob waving a White Paper and insisting that the views of the few outweigh the views of the many.

Shame on you Ireland.

And shame on you America for the quality of your audiobooks!

I love audiobooks. Always have done. But just recently I've become irritated with American narrators. Not because of their accent or the timbre of their voice. It's because they haven't had the common decency to learn the correct pronunciation of British place names. I realise that this is probably the fault of the audiobook company itself rather than the reader. And I also concede that British spelling of proper names follows no logical pattern and things are not always said as they are written. Nevertheless, I believe that if Stephen Fry or Hugh Laurie or Dawn French or Alan Rickman or whoever was reading a book about America, they would learn the correct pronunciations of places' and people's names.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to Alan Sklar's otherwise pleasing baritone reading the audiobook of Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map and gritting my teeth every time I hear about places like 'Burr-wick Street', 'Hurt-ford-shire', 'Ber-MOND-see' and (sob!) 'Willis-den'. Of course, Berwick, Hertfordshire, Bermondsey and Willesden should be pronounced 'Berrick', 'Hart-ford-shur', 'BER-mond- zee' and 'Wills-dun'.

4/10. Must try harder.

3 comments:

She Means Well... said...

Couldn't agree more, both on blasphemy and audio books (what a combination).

You might be interested in this link related to the whole sorry business (the blasphemy that is): http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=105926057739&h=QfsUg&u=6HQZq&ref=nf

Mari said...

I am sorry for the american blundering Stevyn. I wonder if there were language coaches available at the recording, or whether the voice talent were just winging it?

Stevyn Colgan said...

She Means Well - It scares me, it really does.

Mari - No apologies required from yourself. I love America and Americans generally. I just get frustrated with the general lack of courtesy in asking how we pronounce things on this side of the pond. It may be a naive generalisation on my account but I'm pretty sure we would bother. Just look at how many Brits play Americans in US movies and get the placenames right.

Just don't get me started on Sklar's ghastly attempts at a Cockney accent. It's Dick Van Dyke all over again ...