Can you help me pronounce this last name?
March 24, 2020 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me pronounce the surname Zadravecz? I'm about to interview someone and would like to get at least close on the first attempt. Thanks!
posted by griseus to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
[ZAH druh 'vech]
posted by notsnot at 5:48 AM on March 24, 2020

My hunch - based on a childhood friend having a similarly-difficult name with similar letter groupings - is "ZA-dra-vitch" or "ZA-dra-vetch".

But I can also promise, also based on having that childhood friend and seeing what she went through, that they've had people persistently mangle their name over the years and is used to it, so even if you do get it wrong, they will a) not be offended, and b) touched you tried. And don't be surprised if they just interrupt and tell you how to say it, it may be a habit they've just gotten into because they know people will probably mangle it otherwise.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:48 AM on March 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks you. I'll mumble something in the neighborhood of these and await correction ;)
posted by griseus at 5:50 AM on March 24, 2020

Asking people what they prefer to be called is like asking them which pronouns they use. It's a really good way of connecting and validating them. You will definitely score points with this person if you ask them, repeat it until you get it right, and mention, "I was told ZAH druh 'vech," making it clear that you did the research but you still wanted to make sure you didn't get it wrong.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:07 AM on March 24, 2020 [10 favorites]

I have a nonstandard last name that isn't quite pronounced the way it looks, nor the way that most people with similar names pronounce it, and I would much rather have people ask me than make an attempt based on how other people think they pronounce it. And please don't tell me, "Oh, I thought it would be [this other way]."

I assure you, they already know how most people would pronounce or think it's "supposed to be" pronounced. They know that it's difficult for English speakers to get right on the first attempt, and they have had people get it wrong even after they explain their pronunciation.

Ask how they pronounce it. Repeat it once to confirm. If you get it wrong, apologize and try again.
posted by Etrigan at 7:21 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

It's good practice, especially if you're recording, to ask them to say their name twice to make sure you get a clear capture (it's a way of proving authenticity later, too, in a crisis). That should be enough for you to hear it well enough to say it back pretty closely.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:32 AM on March 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Often Slavic last names put the emphasis on the second syllable (Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, etc). So “zah DRAH vitch” would be a good bet.
posted by sixswitch at 8:57 AM on March 24, 2020

Polish words most frequently emphasize the penultimate syllable, so I'd cast my guess with sixswitch.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on March 24, 2020

Although, speaking as a Polish person, it doesn't sound like a Polish name to me.
posted by M. at 9:31 AM on March 24, 2020

It appears to be a Hungarian name.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:37 AM on March 24, 2020

Often Slavic last names put the emphasis on the second syllable (Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, etc). So “zah DRAH vitch” would be a good bet.

Pedant-filter, but this is not correct. Czech is stress-initial, Polish as noted is penultimate, Russian is all over the place. There's not a generalization for Slavic word stress.
posted by less of course at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2020 [9 favorites]

It depends. No seriously. This sounds like a name that maybe originally Slavic and then got Magyar-icized at some point, which was not at all unusual wen Central Europe was under Austrian (and then Austro-Hungarian) rule in the 16-1900s. So it could have been pronounced (and even spelled) differently depending on time and location. For example it could have pronounced to sound Hungarian in Hungary, and then "code-shifted" to sound German in Vienna.

And then, when if the family emigrated someplace with a tradition of localizing foreign names like the UK, the US, France, etc, it could have gone through another shift altogether.

Anyways, TLDR, just ask rather than guessing. With an unusual name they'll be used to it and appreciate it.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 11:40 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

I have a 2-syllable name - Devlin

And I still have to explain how it's pronounced -" dev" - "lin" - almost everytime it comes up. Almost always the v and l are transposed.

If you ask them how to pronounce it before you mangle it, they will be both startled you asked and gratified that you cared.
posted by dustpuppy at 12:37 PM on March 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd just ask. Unless you're 100% sure that this is a person from the Old Country (whatever that is; the name doesn't look Polish because we don't use the letter V), the pronunciation could be literally anything. I boggle when I hear how Americans of Polish descent pronounce their names now.
posted by confluency at 3:21 PM on March 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have a 5 letter Norwegian last name, that about 99% of the populace mispronounces - even though it looks like an 'easy' name to figure out. My name looks like it has a silent 'e' at the end, but it is not - that 'e' is pronounced.

I'm in the 'I'd just ask' category, especially for something like an interview. Having had interviewers mispronounce my name, and then me having to correct them, makes me feel just really tense during the ensuing meeting.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:24 PM on March 24, 2020

« Older Grocery shopping safety in the time of Corona   |   We can't produce [anything/food] unless we produce... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments