Giannis Antetokounmpo. We remember when the Greek started to make a name for himself in the league, how much NBA commentators and actors struggled to pronounce his surname. To a lesser extent, Fred VanVleet, to whom The Athletic has devoted a long paper, is also concerned by the phenomenon.
In the mouths of some, VanVleet can thus transform into… “VanFleet”. » I have been confronted with this throughout my life. VanFleet is just simpler. I don’t know… It’s been a while since I’ve been sensitive to it. I don’t even care anymore. «
The craziest thing is that some of his coaches made the mistake themselves. His current coach, Nick Nurse, for example: “ I think it was during his rookie season. I always thought it was VanFleet. I’ve heard VanFleet so many times on TV (before arriving in Toronto). I didn’t understand it until I saw it on the back of his jersey. Like ‘I didn’t even know it was a V’. «
On local television, some analysts like Alvin Williams are also struggling when it comes to talking about the Raptors point guard, which makes him » concerned « . » I still say ‘VanFleet’ », Regrets the former local leader.
According to the 2019 NBA champion, who was told the name is of Dutch origin, all layers of the population are concerned. » The smartest people I know, the most successful, right down to the people on the streets, they all scratch him. I don’t know why, this is one of the mysteries of the world. «
People are not even aware that they are making this kind of replacement
And the phenomenon is not limited to pronunciation according to him. The « massacre » of his name continues in writing … » People don’t read. I have a long name on my shirt. The worst is on the internet. […] If you could pronounce it correctly, so much the better. Don’t be disrespectful. But the problem on the internet is when you think, ‘OK, now it’s just ignorance.’ But I feel like most people are pretty dumb, so I don’t mind that much. «
At least it is said! The central question surrounding this strange mania is why so many mistakes? The Athletic took the question to a professor at the University of Toronto specializing in speech-language pathology, Rosemary Martino.
« It is not very common in the English language to have the combination of the letters V and L, notes the specialist. It is common to have other combinations, S, L for example. And F, L is a common combination for many words, but V, L is not. So it will not be familiar to an English speaker. […] V being very similar to the sound of F, people probably automatically assume that they hear ‘Fleet’ instead of ‘Vleet’. […] People are not even aware that they are doing this kind of replacement. They just think it’s the correct sound. «
The specialist adds: » Frankly, poor boy. The pronunciation concerns around his surname did not prevent him from making a name for himself in the big league.