Mocking Saakashvili?

I’ve noticed that almost every news anchor on CNN mispronounces Mikheil Saakashvili’s surname. They usually say something like “Sashkavilli”. Is this because even McCain is incapable of pronouncing “Saakashvili” (although he claims to have met with him several times)?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Do you prefer lobster or crab?[YSaerTTEW443543]

I couldn’t understand what is this topic about…
Sorry,My English is getting worst,I haven’t spoken and read in English for long time :slight_smile:

Hi Torsten

I haven’t heard any of the CNN people attempt the pronunciation of Saakashvili’s name, but if they’re all pronouncing it incorrectly, I’d say they’re simply having trouble with the pronunciation of a foreign name, not mocking him. Heck, when I was in Germany, there was an endless parade of Germans who mispronounced my first name – and my first name only has two syllables. :lol:

At any rate, maybe you should send CNN an e-mail with this link:
The CNN people could then listen to the pronunciation of Mikheil Saakashvili’s full name, and maybe then at least some of them will start getting it right – or at least almost right. :wink:

By the way, the local TV news people in my area seem to be side-stepping this pronunciation problem completely. Rather than risk mangling the pronunciation, they seem to intentionally avoid referring to Saakashvili by name, and instead refer to him almost exclusively only as “the president of Georgia”.

I bet Senator Obama can pronounce his name correctly. On CNN not so long ago, they compared this two candidates on how they pronounce Pakistan and Iraq. Obama gets it right, and many linguists level him as an international guy. On the other hand, some American said, that is just not how American pronounce it.

I just remembered something else: Hardly any German newscasters pronounce “Washington” correctly. :lol:

Hi Amy

What about “Worcester sauce”, Dresdener art of course.:smiley: Even to the length of calling it “Wochestersha saucer”.

I get into this pronunciation argument with my girlfriend all the time.

I take on board Brits saying Schumacher´s first name wrong.
But even Steven Gerrard (Liverpool player) in commentary was pronounced “Gehard”.
And the amount of times people call and write me as a Steward not with a “t” gets on my wick, I ain´t no flight assistant or security at a sports game.

Anyway smarts of “glass houses”.
Granted the German language is more phonetic, but doesn´t mean we or they get the pronunciation right 24/7, innit.

Hi Stew,

Do you see a difference between a news anchors and “average people” when it comes to pronounce foreign names?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Did you catch that reporter’s first name?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

When it comes to pronouncing foreign names, in what way? From a perspective or quality or accuracy.

I see that a presenter is in a role where they should have good pronunciation, for your “average joe” maybe not as important.

That’s my point, exactly Stew. Pronouncing Saakashvili as Sashkavilli isn’t very professional for a news caster. I’m not talking about accents or even pronunciation but changing entire syllables to the point where the name can hardly be recognized. If the public hears the name “Sashkavilli” serveral times per day on TV and radio, they of course pick it up and hence Georgia has a new president.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Would you like to take a break?[YSaerTTEW443543]

I agree that especially newscasters should try to pronounce names as accurately as possible. But I’m sure you know as well as I do, Torsten, that some words (and names) are more prone to mispronunciation than others. I’m sure you must have seen that in your English courses.

I suspect that most of the newscasters at CNN who are currently mangling the pronunciation of Saakashvili’s name will eventually improve.

A penny for your thoughts - can anyone describe/transcribe the name ‘Breheny’ (etymologically it comes from the Irish word for ‘judge’)…


By the way, I think the three of you (You, Torsten and Stew) have very difficult-to-pronounce surnames (Stew’s the most impossible for me, I just gave up!)
Maybe it’s because I never heard anybody pronounce them before.

Hi, Ralf

Ever since I saw your biography on this site, I’ve been wondering how you pronounce it. I’m totally up the creek, have no idea as to its transcription :?

Hi Nina,

And I bet you’d stress the second syllable as well! Pagan!

Fortunately ‘Breheny’ is only my stage name for, so I don’t get to here it that often. My mum doesn’t mind me borrowing it :smiley:

Stew’s is easy, just think of ‘Tommy Cliff’ and swap the 'm’s for 'n’s. And all Torsten’s name needs is a phat ‘r’ in the end. Dare!

Hi Alex,

It sounds like [[color=darkblue]'brɛhenɪ], if that helps :).

No, I don’t. I don’t know phonetics so I used “hay” to differentiate it from the other pronunciation of the vowel E (hee).

GREAT tips! Now I am confident on how to address Mr. Tunnicliff. In the earlier times, when I asked Stew how to pronounce his surname, Jamie mentioned about his neighbours (I think) with the same name and how he called them “Tuna”!

So Tunacliff has been on my mind for a while now. Sorry!


I must use more smilies
I must use more smilies
I must use more smilies
I must use more smilies
I must use more smilies
I must use more smilies to show I’m not serious

Sorry? Whatever for? I know you were joking, Ralf. Somehow I got the feeling I’m the one who should have used more smilies :lol:

Hi Nina

You have a great memory.
No worries with my family name, you are not the first to have problems.
In the UK I was known as Tunni, easier for you?

Now everyone calls me stew or stew.t. (as there are a few Stewarts around).,

Mr Tunnicliff still sounds like my Da (Dad) though.

I had problems with Mr Braheneigh at first, but he is such a messy man anyway. ; )

I tend to have some problems with nicknames in German. My student mentioned “that was cloudy” and I thought she was talking about the weather not her friend Claudia.

Romy is also one I recently had problems with, and as for Gundrun and Brunheilda, took me some tongue twisting to get that down to pat.

Birgit, a local barmaid I thought was Brigit at first.

But we, as with anyone on TV should all try our best to get these things right.

btw some “average joes” trying to say my name were actually Politicians, like Mr deep lake our last Major. And I did get your point.

cheer stew aka stew.t. aka Tunni aka Mr Tunnicliff

Actually Stew, Tunni is the hardest part for me, you told me to pronounce it Tony before but I didn’t quite believe you, I don’t know why.

And what do you guys think of Saakashvilli’s English? Obviously he has some sort of an accent but he is fluent. He also tends to slur a lot. Perhaps he is just trying to convey his message within a limited time on air.