Archive for Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You say ‘Turin,’ TV says ‘Torino’

January 18, 2006

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It's the Olympic version of "You say tomato, I say tomahto."

The city in northern Italy that's hosting the Winter Olympics next month is "Torino" to the locals and NBC. For most of us non-Italians, it's always been Turin.

"Readers are seeing it on television with the NBC logo, it says 'Torino,' the Olympic Games," Ron Fritz, sports editor at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., said. "They see it in the paper, 'Turin,' and they're thinking we got it wrong."

The explanation for the different versions is simple.

Sort of.

"Turin is the English translation of the Italian word Torino," said Clara Orban, a professor of Italian at DePaul University. "Standard practice in the United States is if a city name has been translated differently, go with the English translation."

That's what The Associated Press is doing. Its policy - and it was around long before Turin was awarded the Olympic Games - is to use the English version of foreign cities. It's Rome, not Roma. Munich, not Muenchen. Moscow instead of Mockba or Moskva.

So why the linguistic confusion?

The official name of the games is "Torino 2006," and the International Olympic Committee refers to the city by its Italian name. When the games were awarded in June 1999, then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch announced, "The hosts of the 2006 Games will be Torino."

Either way, the Winter Olympics will simply call the city home next month.

"I think people will be able to figure it out," said Tom Jolly, sports editor at The New York Times.

Until they do, confusion is sure to be the rule.

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