Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to know your life has become history

I'm currently reading Rick Perstein's Nixonland as an audiobook. It's a terrific history of the formative events of my lifetime. And it is very well written for taking in by ear -- Perlstein's style suits the spoken word.

But I keep being jarred. The reader keeps mispronouncing the names of individuals who were the stuff of nightly newscasts in my youth, the household furniture of the time. Obviously, he's too young to have grown up on a nightly diet of these guys:



Can you name who they are? I'll stick the answers in the first comment.

3 comments:

janinsanfran said...

L to R: Secretary of State Dean Acheson; NBC newsman Sander Vanocur; San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto

Nell said...

I'm having trouble coming up with an alternative pronunciation for 'Acheson'.

Perlstein's unfamiliarity with this is a surprising gap in the grasp of a historian for whom I have a lot of respect.

Alioto: How many ways are there to say this? And it's not a name from the deepest past: Angela Alioto has run for mayor twice and is still a big figure in local politics. Rick hasn't talked to anyone in San Francisco about Alioto, or listened/watched radio or TV coverage of the period that mentioned the mayor, and so has somehow avoided hearing the name pronounced? It seems bizarre.

Wouldn't there be a production editor for books on disc? Does he/she just assume a young historian knows how to pronounce the names he's going to read aloud? And, in the digital age, there's nothing stopping them from getting Perlstein to re-read, correctly, passages with mistaken pronunciations, and splicing them in. Audio proofreading and copy-editing...

Sander Van-OH-cur is much more forgivable, though again it's a bit surprising because you'd think innumerable clips of him exist saying his own name at the end of reports.

janinsanfran said...

Nell -- I don't think Perlstein is the reader. From listening to the book, I'm sure he viewed hours of TV tapes that would have given him the common pronounciation.

Acheson = "Aaitchison" from this reader.

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