Friday, October 14, 2011

Three things about this story

For me, the AP video above has three different things going on.

First and foremost, I think it’s a terribly sad story. However, if I were in a situation similar to that of Helen Tamaki, whose partner, Sonia Marra, died in the crash, I don’t think I’d want to survive. Mostly, though, I think it’s a sad story.

Then there’s the AP itself. Whatever happened to journalists at least trying to pronounce names correctly? It's not hard to get it right, and there’s been plenty of broadcast coverage here in New Zealand (Helen Tamaki, the woman who just died, was a New Zealander), and the AP would have easy access to those reports.

I think English-speaking journalists have an ethical and moral responsibility to find out the correct pronunciation of all non-English words, and a flat out obligation to pronounce names correctly, except in the most extreme situations in which the journalist’s own accent makes that impossible.

So, because the AP didn’t do its duty, I will: Helen Tamaki's name is NOT pronounced "tuh-MAH-kee", but "TAH-muh-kee".

And finally, I was frankly appalled by the reaction of some people commenting on the blog post where I originally saw this video. They argued that the fact that Tamaki was lesbian, or that the couple was a lesbian couple, was irrelevant.

Putting aside the fact that, tragic though the accident was, this video would never have been posted to a gay blog if the couple wasn’t lesbian, I can’t understand how some apparently gay people can argue that it should have been, well, censored. What was to be gained by letting people think the two women were just “very good friends” or—far, far worse, in my opinion—ignoring they had any connection whatsoever, as CNN did, essentially wiping out the women’s 15-year-long relationship as if it never existed.

In my view, the mainstream newsmedia in the US dishonoured that relationship—and ALL gay relationships—by pretending it never existed (New Zealand media reported the story accurately). Gay people (especially bloggers, in this case) have an obligation to remember our own, and to honour their lives and the reality of their relationships.

But, mostly, I just think it’s a very sad story.


Roger Owen Green said...

damn, I just stop looking at comments like the ones at the link - schmucks, they are

BTW, I NEVER could pronounce that Icelandic volcano

Arthur Schenck said...

Yep. I also tried to leave a correcting comment at the CNN site, but they haven't published yet. They don't like being called out, I guess.

There are sometimes we simply can't say words in another language, name or not. But I think those times are really pretty rare, and it's no excuse for getting "Tamaki" wrong—that's an easy one!