Monday, November 10, 2008

M&G; for Short

Got a crazy busy week ahead of us, with an opening this Thursday by Gulnara Kasmaleiva & Muratbek Djumaliev featuring their amazing 5-channel video, so I suspect blogging might be light. Then again, perhaps the installation gods will smile on us and I'll have more time than I anticipate.

One of the interesting things about working with artists whose names are difficult for Americans to pronounce is you learn that that fact alone can make some folks otherwise interested in the work a bit hesitant to ask about it. They don't want to butcher the pronunciation, so they simply don't ask. I do this myself sometimes with artists in other galleries (there are names in certain languages where my brain just shuts down until I've heard it several times and I say it from memory, never quite making the connection between how I know it sounds and what English characters make up that sound).

Although Muratbek and Gulnara are fairly straight forward names to pronounce, their family names are a bit daunting for most English speakers, so we've taken to calling them simply "M&G" for short and encourage anyone interested in their work to do the same. M&G ahve returned the favor, and now call Bambino and I "E&M" (Bambino's first name is Murat, if you didn't know).

At a certain point, though, such efforts could overlap...all of which made me wonder if, in the increasingly global nature of the art world with a flurry of new difficult (for me) names by important artists, I shouldn't seek out some pronunciation memorization techniques. Anyone have any tips?

Labels: artists' names, global


Anonymous y's said...

do what one can, until jan sounds more like john

11/10/2008 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

يبحث الرئيس الامريكى المنتخب باراك اوباما فى قرارات الرئيس
جورج بوش المتعلقة خصوصا بعمليات التنقيب عن النفط والخلايا
الجذعية التى يمكن ان يعيد النظر فيها
لدى تسلمه مهام منصبه

Just kidding,

Cedric C

11/10/2008 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous قيس بن الملوح said...

we know

11/10/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

ham d'ul-illah

11/10/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Garance said...

Write down the name with a spelling corresponding to the pronounciation. For instance if somebody was named Xin (letter in chinese), write down on a memo "seen" (the way to pronounce it)

11/10/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen Xin?

11/10/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger why we heart our hive said...

I understand the struggles with tough names. My name is Manik Nakra (Indian name). I dont find it particularly difficult or odd, but Americans are constantly surprising me with their ignorance towards eastern culture. It is pronounced like "Monica" without the "A" at the end. Rhymes with tonic, chronic, etc. Many times when meeting with people in the art world, I introduce myself as "manny." About 50% of the people I know call me that nickname. Is it wise for me to continue to call myself as "Manny" or try to have galleries, dealers, etc recognize me by the name signed on the back of my painting "Manik R. Nakra"?

11/10/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Well, I love Manik, it's ferocious.
The R. is Redundant, perhaps?

In my rave years (youth) I loved a band called 4Hero, and one of the leader had a solo project called Manix and I always thought that sounded cool.

Samples from my nostalgia:

"I just like to walk with my head in the cloiudddss" Lol! I'm sure none of this make sense unless you were there in 1992.

Gosh, one more:

I'm out,

Cedric C

11/10/2008 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a man with a tongue of wood who essayed to sing and in truth it was lamentable. S. Crane

I have a tongue of wood. My dad called me Miss Malaprop. When new hard names come in waves, I duck. The only cure is to ask, focus, write it down, repeat and memorize, name by name. It's a deal, though, isn't it. Spelling is also a horrible trial. I hate letters. Regina Hackett

11/10/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Everyone's name gets chewed up by someone. Traveling in Italy, I heard reference to Carrtayre, Boosh, then to Cleentonn, and then again to Boosh. Here in the US, the Italian PM is certainly not pronounced Berr-loos-coh'-nee. (You could call him other things, I might add, but that's not the point of this post.) There's a tendency to pronounce a "foreign" name with one's native accent.

The Times offers pronunciation of new or unusual names. Maybe that's something you can do in your press release, Ed.

Then we make the effort. Get your lips and throat accustomed to making the new sound. They're muscles after all, and like body building, you have to do reps if you want to see progress.

11/10/2008 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Stefano Pasquini said...

If you think Americans are bad with names go and have a try in Britain. I lived there for 8 years and no-one could pronounce Stefano. Ever.

The one above you can call the little Mussolini, and we'd all know who you're talking about.

11/10/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger nina said...

my husband's name is Davide. Italian for David and hard for Americans to get right.
So we now tell people:
Everyday is Daviday. Which helps them pronounce the name in an acceptable fashion and makes it easy to remember too.
Some of the responsibility also lies with the person who has a name that is perhaps difficult for some to pronounce.

11/10/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

This is such an interesting thread - I love the insightful comments as much as the original post! I agree with Nina that it can really help if the person gives you a way to remember it. When I lived in W Africa, rural people had trouble saying Elizabeth. But urbanites always said, "ahh, Elizabeth, like the Queen." So that's what I began to use. However, other than saying my surname, I haven't figured out how to help people remember that my surname (Bojang) is pronounced with "ah" sound, as opposed to a long a sound (Bojangles).

Manik, I think you should use your name as opposed to "Manny" since you said you signed the art as Manik. It will help people make that link and you can help people remember it by suggesting the rhyming words. I don't think I'll forget the pronunciation of your name now.

I launched a website with audio name pronunciations,
You can hear how people say their own names and you can press "play" as many times as you need to committ it to memory. In fact, if anyone wants to send me a link with their name pronunciation, I'd love to add it!

I think it's important to say a name as the person would because their name is a part of who they are. By giving your effort to pronounce their name, you are showing your interest in them too.

11/11/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Wow! Fantastic website, Elizabeth!

I have to say it cracked me up to listen to the helium voice
who pronunced Cho Or Jo. I think it is a glitch there. ;-)


Cedric C

(by the way, english people both pronunce my name
Saidrik or Seedrick and to me both are valid)

11/11/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Thanks for complimenting the site. But a helium voice? Perhaps I'm missing something - it doesn't sound high to me. (I'm assuming you mean the Korean name).
English names are coming up next.

11/11/2008 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I think it's a problem with my computer buffering. A couple asian names around Cho gives me a chipmunk voice. Most are fine. My connection is abnormally slow this morning.


Cedric C

11/11/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...


J "My connection is abnormally slow this morning"

A Yes.

J what should we do

A We will do what we've always done.
i.e. fire the whole crew, the musicians, etal. We may talk with the cinematographer.

11/11/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Readers of this blog will be very interested to learn of an upcoming auction at Rago Arts...

If you like or collect work by new and emerging artists (Andrew Schoultz, Claire Rojas, Charlie Roberts, Stan Kaplan, Sam Prekop), you might want to look at the art in the auction going on at Rago Arts and Auction Center next Saturday, 11/15.

Meredith Hilferty runs the sales, and emerging artists is one of the things she specializes in. You can call or e-mail her ( and ask questions about anything you like in the auction. In the auction you bid like on eBay – just leave a max bid with Meredith and then see how you do.

I know most people just think that they can’t afford to buy from auctions because they think of the million dollar art auctions in NY, but that’s just what gets the headlines. There’s a lot of original art and multiples by talented artists with gallery representation at Rago’s from around $800-$2000.

Check out to learn more about the auction.

11/11/2008 01:50:00 PM  

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