I was listening to NPR yesterday, and there was a story on about the big toy fair in NYC.  One of the people interviewed was an executive with the Danish company LEGO.  My son was in the car with me, so we listened intently:  he is a huge LEGO fan.

Throughout the piece, the interviewer referred to the gentleman in question, a Senior Vice President at LEGO, as “Soarin’ Torp Laursen.”  Drove me nuts.

Søren.  The name is Søren.  Not “Soarin’.” I’ve heard people who ought to know better refer to the Danish philosopher as “Soarin’ Kierkegaard.”  Søren.  Søren.

The beginning “s” in Danish has a “z” sound, just as it does in German, Dutch, and pretty much every other Germanic language except for English.  The ø sound is similar to the German ö, not exactly the same, but similar.  “Sören” would be a rough approximation:  certainly much better than “Soarin’.”

I know.  You’re probably thinking, “The interviewer was not Danish:  how could she be expected to know how to pronounce a Danish name?” Well, the man was right there, and I’m sure they introduced themselves to one another before the interview, and I guarantee you he did not introduce himself as “Soarin’ Torp Laursen.”

I know a Søren.  When I met him, I had not seen the name in print before.  I said the name back to him until I got it right.  It took a few tries, but I guarantee you that not once did my attempts at the name sound anything like “Soarin’.”

A name is important.  Not bothering even to try to get someone’s name right is insulting to that person.

Just ask Soarin’ Kierkegaard.


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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8 Responses to Soarin'?

  1. Bif Patterson says:

    Oh, those liberal NPR folks don’t care how to say anyone’s else name, but their own. It’s not their fault though.

  2. Cap'n Whook says:

    Listen to NPR and you’ll have to wash your ears out with soap (and atone by consulting FOXNews for the real story). 🙂

    Annika Sörenstam. Sports broadcasters always say “Soarin’ Stan.”

  3. RevJATB says:

    It’s really ironic: NPR is the network that insisted that all its newspeople pronounce apartheid like “apar-tayed” rather than “apar-tied” because the former is closer to the actual Afrikaans pronunciation, even when every other media outlet (except, of course, the BBC) was saying “apar-tied.” Poor “Soarin’ Torp Laursen” didn’t get the same respect.

  4. cancerman says:

    Perhaps he’s also a skier?

  5. Cap'n Whook says:

    That was Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards.

    Hey, we’re missing a point: why the NPR interview in the first place? There’s not anything wrong with the LEGO company, is there? Are their profits down? On the brink? I still wouldn’t mind having a LEGO castle set for myself!

  6. RevJATB says:

    Oh LEGO is doing fine. Not to worry, Cap’n. The story was really about how much more subdued the toy expo was this year compared to past years because of the downturn in the economy.

    Herr Laursen said that LEGO was doing well because “every time you play with it, it’s a new toy.” When the lead paint scare was in the news last Christmas, we didn’t worry about whether or not LEGOs were safe, because we knew they were still made in Denmark and had never been outsourced to China.

    We have two boys here who LOVE LEGOs. So come on over, Cap’n! I’m sure you all would have a great time building stuff!

  7. Cap'n Whook says:

    That would be fun. And I think there is a pirate ship set, too!

  8. RevJATB says:

    Come on over! Every day is a LEGO day ’round here.

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