Monday, 18 May 2009

Where’s the script, Eurovision?

I may have missed something – distracted by Miss Azerbaijan, perhaps? – but I came away from Saturday’s songfest feeling that the Cyrillic alphabet had been well and truly hidden. The inter-act sequences featured three-dimensional letters flying through Moscow, but all that I can remember is that they looked like Helvetica, not which script they were. And the far more prominent ‘postcards’ shown between each song featured Russian words, but only in a Roman transliteration. And in English transliteration and translation, too.

Transliterating Russian can cause problems between western European languages, as shown by the problem of Чайкóвский = Tchaikovsky = Tschaikowsky = Chaikovski (apparently this is the Library of Congress’s preferred form). Did the Russian tv producers think that integration with Eurovision meant keeping the non-Western national alphabet under wraps? But again, maybe it was just another aspect of the domination of World English – only the most determinedly Francophone countries stuck to French when casting their votes.

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