This CBC News story made me quite happy:
This is a tale of two cities — or, rather, of two cities’ names. And it reveals how we sometimes have a dickens of a time spelling foreign nouns in English.
The story begins many months ago, when the CBC was preparing to broadcast the Summer Olympics from Athens. Like a relay runner sprinting toward the baton pass, we glanced ahead to the next Games in 2006.
Our announcers and writers would inevitably refer to the host city in Italy. And it quickly became clear that a decision was needed for a smooth handover.
Some people were calling the 2006 Winter Games the Torino Olympics. Others opted for the Turin Olympics.
Neither was actually wrong, unless you happen to publish or broadcast in Italian. But which was right for us?
Torino, of course, is the name that Italians use for this ancient city in the country’s northwest. Most of the English-speaking world, however, knows the community as Turin. The host city itself puts Torino on all official documents, including those issued in English, and some media outlets have adopted this term as well. A researcher with CBC Sports, Suzanne Blake, conducted a survey during the summer and found that NBC had chosen Torino while the BBC and Canadian Press had picked Turin. Our staff was divided.
When CBC.ca was asked for its views, I suggested the corporation use Turin, largely because it’s the name most Canadians recognize — just as Venezia is called Venice. I also pointed out that we refer to the 1960 Olympics as the Rome, not the Roma, Games, even though the latter is the hometown choice.
In fact, if you look carefully at Canada’s sole medal that year – a silver in men’s rowing – you’ll see ROMA MCMLX on the front.
But that inscription doesn’t make the English label “Rome Olympics” wrong. Put another way, we must consider more than logos, posters and other printed material to determine the language we use for our audience.
A colleague who runs CBC Sports Online, Andrew Lundy, also voted for Turin — slyly noting that if the International Olympic Committee endorses Turin as the acceptable French version, this was a chance for linguistic unity in Canada.
In the end, the head of CBC News, Tony Burman, and the head of CBC Sports, Nancy Lee, made a final ruling for all the English service’s journalists working in radio, television and on the web. We found ourselves on the road to Turin because that’s the most familiar name. Arrivederci confusion. Hello consistency.
The rest of the story concerns an equally sensible decision to prefer Kiev over Kyiv: “We still write Peter the Great not ‘Pyotr,’ for example, and Rachmaninoff instead of ‘Rakhmaninov.’” As regular readers of this blog know, I’m all for traditional English spellings.
Thanks for the link go to Jonathan Crowe.