The more politically aware amongst us will know that former Portuguese prime minister, Antonio Guterres is going to be the next United Nations Secretary General. And it was reported on in the RTÉ1 six o'clock news. Bryan Dobson was the lead news presenter, as magisterial and authoritative as ever. Except for one little slip-up.
I'm not a linguistic purist or perfectionist. In some languages, the phonetics are pretty counter-intuitive. In Finnish, 'Y' is pronounced like 'U'. In Turkish, "C" is pronounced like "J" in English. In Icelandic, the double-L ("LL") has to be heard to be spoken; ditto "UI" and "UY" in Dutch/Flemish.
But "Guterres" is easy. Gu. Terr. Es. Okay, strictly speaking, in the original Portuguese, there's a slight emphasis on the middle syllable and the 's' of 'Es' is slightly softened to something that sounds a bit like 'Esh".
But Dobson didn't say that. He said "Gweress". He missed the little matter of the "T" right in the middle of the word. I've seen him fluff over unfamiliar words before. Surely a newsreader should do a little practice in advance before dealing on air with words that are foreign and/or unusual?