I've not had a pop at the Independent for a while so I was rather pleased when I read this on the bus. Apparently a draft of George Bush's speech was accidentally sent out and it had phonetic aides on pronouncing foreign names in it. I know, it's a scandal isn't it? The man is so thick he can't pronounce Aung San Suu Kyi without an aide! And yes I'm being sarcastic.
Seriously though, of course this a funny story because of the cock-up. And yes, it's sort of diary story'ish and made all the better by the fact that Bush's pronunciation of words, what with his Texan accent, help feed into the meme that he is somehow not actually very bright.
But really what got me mildly annoyed was the way the whole thing is portrayed as a serious news story, but is actually a "lets all laugh at the funny sounding yank who can't read like us clever people" story. It's utter snobbery of the highest order, and it's made all the more irritating by this bit.
While prompts were provided for Kyrgyzstan [KEY-geez-stan] and Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a], he was offered no such help with Sierra Leone or with Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader in Burma. He made two runs at the latter and mangled the former, seemingly renaming it Syria Leone. (A member of his axis of evil, surely.)See the bit in brackets at the end? And Simon Kelner wonders why Blair called his publication a viewspaper not a newspaper? Jesus wept. It's like a sarky Ed comment in Private Eye added into the text of a full page story in the International News section. It's utterly pathetic and not serious paper of record journalism.
Also just think about this for a second. Put a Texan accent in your head, and then say "Sierra" to yourself with it. It's actually perfectly reasonable that spoken at pace it could come out sounding like "Syria". I'm willing to bet as well that early drafts of speeches by many world leaders have phonetic aides in them as well - of coruse, in those cases it would probably be perefctly alright, but if you're Bush it's proof that you're a bit of dummy.