Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ihor or Igor? Now, we know.

On January 5, 2010, the NY Times published Professor Ihor Sevcenko's obituary. Alex Labunka followed with a letter published by Brama News on January 15, which addresses a key omission in the obituary.

In the New York Times obituary (January 5, 2010) for the late Harvard professor Ihor Ševčenko, the pronunciation for his first name was given as [EE-gore]. I immediately dashed off an e-mail to the author, William Grimes, informing him that the correct pronunciation of his name was [EE-hore], the Ukrainian form, and not [EE-gore], the Russian form. He replied that he had learned of the pronunciation with "g" from members of the immediate family.

When I inquired about that, I learned that, indeed, his close family members all used the name Igor. The pronunciation carried with it no disrespect whatsoever for Ihor's Ukrainian heritage, but being more familiar to American ears, it became their private name for him. He himself used only Ihor, the name by which virtually all his colleagues, students, and friends from the academic world and the Ukrainian community knew him.

The family, not wishing to depreciate the otherwise wonderful obituary that Mr. Grimes had produced, decided after due consideration not to request a correction.

Here's the link.

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