Well, the World Cup is upon us once more. You’ve probably noticed. It’s very entertaining so far and I’ve enjoyed watching as many games as I can. I’ve been doing so while listening to the Japanese commentary of the matches and I have learned a great deal. I now know the heights of most non-Japanese players and understand that Japanese referees and players alike only warrant the mildest of criticism for any errors made.
Perhaps my sleep deprived state is a causal factor, but there is one area of Japanese commentary that leaves me in some confusion: conventions regarding players’ names. I don’t mean mispronunciation of non-Japanese players’ names. That is to be expected and is certainly no worse than English attempts at Japanese names (although the insistence that Italy’s Ballotelli really should be Ballotetti, is still somewhat puzzling). No, what baffles me more is how the commentators decide what name to use for each player. You see, usually they go with the accepted norm, the standard last name of an individual. But why, I wonder, do Japanese commentators almost uniformly call the Spanish player Cesc Fabregas by his first name, Cesc? What’s so special about him? They don’t talk about Wayne or Lionel or Luis. They don’t refer to Fernando Torres as Fernando. In fact, they don’t refer to him as Torres either, for he is another anomaly whereby his first and last names come as a set: Fernandotorres. I am genuinely curious as to why this is so but can find no answers. I shall ponder some more, but in the meantime I must get to bed. I am getting up early tomorrow to watch England take on Uruguay. I wonder if Daniel will score again?