‘I’m in the identification business, not a linguist. So why pretend?’

The Rio Report

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James 'Ham-ez' Rodriguez

ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley has launched a brilliant, impassioned and very funny defence of how he pronounces the names of the one of the emerging superstars at the World Cup.

Colombian forward James Rodriguez, whose deadly form catapulted his side deep into the tournament, was apparently named after legendary English fictional spy James Bond.

But while James's name has a very English spelling, it is not said in the English way: the 22-year-old actually pronounces his name "Ham-ez", which is the phonetic rendering of the name in Spanish-speaking countries.

Yet Tyldesley has resolutely insisted on pronouncing the name the "English" way - despite the fact that he's been on the receiving end of a barrage of abuse on social media for his supposedly shoddy research.

But writing in his column on the Kick It Out website, Tyldesley has explained that he knows full well that his pronunciation is wrong - but he's going to stick with it regardless.

"I will call him ‘Jaimz’, others will call him ‘Hamez’. By now, I think we all know who he is," he writes.

"I am in the identification business, I am not a linguist.

"Yes, in his native Spanish language James Rodriguez becomes ‘Hamez Rod-reeg-ez’. The complications and dilemmas come when – like me – you are not a native Spanish speaker, or any other ‘speaker’ but plain English.

"If some of the most famous of the household names at this World Cup were to be pronounced totally correctly, familiar players like van Persie, Ronaldo and Luiz would suddenly sound rather unfamiliar.

"So, at the risk of upsetting the multi-linguists, I admit that I do lean towards ‘Anglicising’ names for popular consumption.

"I remember Ruud Gullit working with ITV as a World Cup panellist and saying that the guttural sound of his surname is simply not one that English speakers make [and] the fellow that kept winning Wimbledon in the seventies had a name that actually sounded nothing like Bjorn Borg in Swedish...

"I have steered clear of trying to refer to Belo Horizonte as ‘Bello Horry-zontsscchhh’ because my clumsy attempt at speaking Portuguese would probably still be wrong, so why pretend?...

"Personally, I think it would be a little perverse to refer to a man with ‘J-A-M-E-S’ on his back as anything other than ‘Jaimz’ on British television unless a different pronunciation of his name had been long established – particularly as he was happily scoring goals for Porto in Europe two years ago as ‘Jaimz Rod-reeg-ez’ on our channels.

"I can offer one great consolation to anyone who disagrees, and finds me guilty on many counts of butchering words and names… virtually nobody pronounces my surname correctly!"

Thanks for that, Clive.

Or, as they say in Bogota, "Klee-vay"!

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Kleevay Teelslay

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