SHOCK: Shoddy reporting by the New York Times! What next? Actually, MacMillan is pointing out that no Prague blogger noticed the slippery review of the Zizkov neighborhood that appeared in the Times last week. (People read it? ed.) What an odd choice of place to write about. I'm sure Zizkov could be trendy if it really tried. But are we sure we want that to happen? I did learn that if you go to Akropolis, you're "brave". Thanks - next time I go I'll feel that little bit extra good about myself.
What's the Times got against this country, anyway? Last Monday Goodfellow caught them reporting on mobile operators in some country called "Czechoslovakia". I was moved to write them about it:
TO: Editor of Technology Section CC: JENNIFER L. SCHENKER RE: JENNIFER L. SCHENKER'S article discussing rumors in the mobile phone industry
Reading the above mentioned article, I can't help noticing one passage in particular:
"Smart phones equipped with Microsoft's Mobile software platform are also being sold through mobile operators in Australia, China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hong Kong, Portugal, and Sweden."
In January of 1993, the former Czechoslovakia in fact split into two new flavors - the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (or, Slovakia). Those of us yankee expatriates who have been living here in the Czech Republic since those days have accepted that for a depressingly large percentage of Americans, these name changes will always be a source of mystery, as shrouded in haziness and fog in their minds as the most violent and backward corners of the globe.
Should I expect more, however, from a reporter and editor of the New York Times? NB: Just FYI, that big country to the east of the Czech Republic is no longer called the "Soviet Union."
It's interesting how sensitive people are to misrepresentations of the details of their turf. I'm from Oregon (as noted previously). Now, Arellanes, a west coast boy, would no doubt pronounce it correctly. Somebody from the east, like say Mr. MacMillan, might have an alternate version.
Oregonians have always been deeply suspicious of easterners in general for the sinister fact that they will insist on mispronoucing the name of the state. How this verbal vandalism came about is lost in the mists of time, but suffice it to say that in the barbarous, steaming, satanic cities of the east it once upon a time somehow became received pronounciation to refer to the Beaver State (yes, Beaver State) as "ORY-gone". Have you ever heard anything more ludicrous in your life? Worse yet, if you're from New York City you are likely to argue that you are right because you've always said it that way and everybody you know does too! (This actually happened to me). Bloody cheek.
Eastern politicians making campaign swings through Oregon are pounced on by their local organizers as soon as they step off the plane and urgently reminded, yet again, not to call it "ORY-gone". True story, by the way. And it is sound, prudent advice. You're some eastern politician and you come here and you pronounce the name of the state like that? You might not make it across the state line.
So how is it pronounced? Just like the large legend across the front of one my good old favorite t-shirts from long ago, probably still folded up in a drawer somewhere in the parental home: