Sunday, May 03, 2009

a commencement of innovation

I sat in a red chair at the Georgia Dome for the first time in my years in Sprawlopolis , one of many in attendance at Georgia Tech's Spring 2009 Commencement Ceremony for graduate students. After the obligatory blah-blah about "the nation's finest" and the "change the world" dogma, it was time for the meat of the ceremony, paradoxically the one least likely to be entertaining: the conferring of degrees. This is but a litany of names and the only ones who're really happy are the recipients who showed up and their well-wishers scattered in the crowd. However, if you have a place like Georgia Tech that is a melting pot of foreigners and you have an announcer who has to make sense of monikers that only look like different surreal flavours of alphabet soup.

Reportedly, each recipient can, on the piece of paper bearing his/her name, offer hints to assist in pronunciation. But IPA is not something you'd expect to know or use often. This means that most people don't really avail of this opportunity. People have also probably decided that the way their name is pronounced is hardly worth any importance in the ceremony.

This means that those like me in the audience who'd love any excuse to make the proceedings interesting welcomed the innovation of one of the announcers that evening. Faced with so many challenging combinations of vowels and consonants, she decided to be innovative as she tried to get her plosives and fricatives right. And we relished each inventive uttering; here are a few nuggets:

Sneha: snaaihaa
Chandrababu: cha.ndraabhaabhuu
David: daviiD
Madhav: madhaav
Deshpande: Desappaa.NDe
Elangovan: iilaa.Nguuvaan
Mayank: myaanak
Goel: gaaul
Nehil: naaiihiil
Jamsandekar: jamadiikhaar
Chetna: chaiintaa
Kher: kaii-iira
Kolhe: kwaalhe
Pai: peii
Panse: paan-saaii
Patil: paTiil
Devdutt: devaduut

I'd have shown up for the baccalaureate ceremony the next day but the roll call wasn't so promising.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did not quite hear my name being called out as I was busy figuring out what I was supposed to do (walk, smile, collect poster, shake hands with the Pres). I later heard that my name was not butchered as bad as the rest. Small mercies :)

The guy behind me was a certain Thiruvengadachari and as you can imagine, the chap was quite distraught waiting for his turn.

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