Are we getting tongue-tied when trying to pronounce French sailors' names?
It has been pointed out to me that the abbreviated nickname of that well-known French solo sailing genius is correctly Mich Desj. In the pages of Yachting World we have been referring to him for years as Mich Des.
I’m not sure why. Maybe it started as a misunderstanding. Or maybe the nickname Mich Desj would not be quite right pronounced in English because most people would say the j with a hard sound. In any case, lots of English-speaking sailors, and most Americans, pronounce his forename Mitch, rather than ‘Meesh’.
We have a touch of the same problem with the word Vendée. It was Pete Goss all those years ago who persisted in mispronouncing the race literally as ‘the Ven-dee’ (rather than ‘vonday’) and somehow it gained a foothold. That’s always sounded a bit weird.
But then again when I go to France, people always call me ‘Ellen’. I take this as a compliment.