Just call him Iggy


As noted elsewhere, the NDP have released two radio ads—in keeping with personal policy, they won’t be posted here—that attack the Liberal decision to let the federal budget pass.

Around the Ottawa bureau though, we are currently debating whether the ads mispronounce the Liberal leader’s surname.

In the opinion of John and I it’s pronounced “Ig-Na-Ti-Uff.”

In the opinion of the NDP it’s “Ig-Na-Chuf.”

A request for clarification has been filed with the opposition leader’s office. Stay tuned for further developments.

Filed under:

Just call him Iggy

  1. What? Attack ads running to try to define the new Liberal leader early in his tenure? Ads running with no election in the foreseeable future? Cue the outrage! I can’t believe the mean-spiritedness! The partisanship! I thought this was the new spirit of cooperation! Wherry, you must be completely disgusted by this turn of events…

    Oh wait…it wasn’t a Conservative attack ad. Never mind. You’re right, it’s much more important just to wonder if they are pronouncing his name correctly.

    • By the same standard shouldn’t you be praising Layton for playing checkers while everyone else is playing tiddlywinks.

      • Robert I have no problem with attack ads at all, inside or outside of an election campaign; I think they are excellent political strategy. My problem is with the double standard.

        • How do you feel about double-double standards?

          • Truly an excellent cup of coffee.

        • I think they are excellent political strategy.

          Are you a politician or a citizen? Seems to me the excellent strategy we should be hoping for outside of an election is a government that’s doing its job.

          The only people who say attack ads are great and work are the public relations consultants employed to design them and the media conglomerates who are paid to run them.

          Most of them just make the rest of us stupider, angrier, more polarised or more turned off. The only people they manage to persuade are the 2% of people it takes to win an election…the people who care the least about politics.

          • I’m a citizen, but with an appreciation for political strategy.

            You may or may not find them distasteful but the evidence, particularly in the last 3 or 4 elections, is overwhelming that they are an effective political communications strategy. Ditto for the branding of Stephane Dion by the Conservatives. You may find it mean, partisan, and distasteful, but that’s politics. You can’t argue that it wasn’t effective. It’s not surprising that the NDP have noticed and are trying to do the same thing.

            Ditto for Ignatieff, as per the G&M, publicly taking a page from Harper’s media control playbook. It doesn’t really bother me; what will bother me is the fact that the media won’t criticize him for it they way they do Harper.

          • It doesn’t really bother me;

            Well it should. You only have to look south to see where it inevitably leads; non-stop campaigning with an endless cacophony of disinformation that propagandises the citizenry when they’re not tuning it out…which they do…en masse.

            You may find it mean, partisan, and distasteful, but that’s politics.

            Well, it’s a type of politics, one that happens to be dysfunctional.

          • Well , as politics it has its charms. Like looking down into a snakepit.

            As a way of doing government , it’s pretty shabby.

          • Who was it who spent the most money on attack ads in the history of United States presidential politics?

            Oh yeah… the audacity of it!

          • john g says:
            Jan 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm

            “I’m a citizen, but with an appreciation for political strategy.

            “You may or may not find them distasteful but the evidence, particularly in the last 3 or 4 elections, is overwhelming that they are an effective political communications strategy.”

            Interesting. In my opinion, they’re actually communicating S.F.A. of real value. Instead, they’re presenting “effective,” instigative propaganda. It should totally bother you, john g. When politicians speak to the public (and each other) by resorting to bullying, coercion via shaming and name calling, it speaks volumes about how poorly they regard us.

  2. Russian has it: Ig-NAT-yev.

    Anglicize accordingly.

    • It’s spelled ‘Ignatieff’ but pronounced ‘Thi-bo-deau’

        • Excellent, this means I can say things like I Don’t Want To Go To Toronto and Kady will get the song stuck in her head!

          …wait, that would interfere with her fun blogging. Darn!

  3. Hmm. You know, I think I’ve been going with “Ig-NADY-ev”. I await the official response.

    • I wonder when the NDP recorded those ads? Was it some time last week?

      • I’m sure. This was obviously coming. Layton just kept up appearances so he could look suitably outraged in front of the cameras.

        • Just because the Liberals can’t put together a decent tape on a moment’s notice for the media to air doesn’t mean the NDP are equally as incompetent.

          • no it merely means they know how to operate video equipment

          • Agreed. Fortunately for Canada, the NDPs incompetencies run much deeper than A/V.

    • Listening to how the man himself does it, yours seems to have been closest…

  4. Russian has it: Ig-NAT-yev.

    It’s pronounced like it’s spelled…”Игнатьев”

    Gosh, that’s not so hard.

    • Russian’s a heck of a lot easier than English in that way.

      We like to make things more difficult.

    • “It’s pronounced like it’s spelled…”Игнатьев” ”

      So . . . Ignatiyev, Ig-na-ti-ye-v/ff, 4 syllables and with a yod between the last two vowels: the “е” is a “ye,” right?

      So what we’re generally missing is the fact that the second “i” in “Ignatieff” is a vowel, not a glide. But if we treat it as a glide (which is natural enough, since the actual glide before the “e” isn’t written and it’s as hard for us to put vowels back to back as it is for the Russians, whence the yod in “е”), then we get t+yod, which is naturally palatalised as “ch” (e.g. “prudential” > prudenchal, etc.). So they’re all kind of right.

      • No, it _should_ be three syllables.

        The thing after the “t” is a soft sign, which is not pronounced on its own in modern Russian.

        That’s what’s messed us up here. A three syllable Russian surname has become a four syllable English name.

        There’s a reason for each of the variations we’ve seen… but the “correct” one is what the man himself uses — which is the wacky four-syllable variant. (My own family did the same thing with a Korean surname in the first half of the twentieth century.)

        • OHhhhhh, ok, I get it. So Ignatieff is right about how to pronounce it: Ig-NADY-ev, as Kady says. Thanks!

          (FTR, Russian is a seriously confusing language . . .)

          • (Though you explain it very clearly.)

  5. And the Conservatives are still running their ads saying Ignatieff (how did the Conservative pronounce it??) is in bed with the socialists and separatists. [Obviously, it’s not a happy bed.]

  6. I was going with Ig-Na-She-Uff

    • Ok, well that’s obviously wrong.

      • Reason # 7736 why applying vaguely French phonetic laws to Russian doesn’t work.

        • Reason # 7736 why applying vaguely French phonetic laws to Russian doesn’t work.

          Actually, applying the phonology of French, especially Canadian French, works rather well with Russian. It gives you “ing-nya-tsief,” which is pretty close, I think. Although I’m suspecting the “tieff” it commonly pronounced “tchoff”, like in Gorbachev (gor-ba-tchoff), but I don’t speak Russian.

          • I believe you are correct, though I think English-speakers are interpreting “tieff” as “chov” because they are more accustomed to it.

            Ignatieff = Игнатьев = Eeg-naht-ee-yev (И = long i, а = ah as in father, е = ye as in yet).

            Gorbachev = Горбачёв (according to Wikpedia) = Gor-ba-chyov.

            So I vote for Ig-na-te-yev.

            I don’t speak Russian, though I’m attempting to learn some basics via books and a podcast. I’m also familiar with the alphabet.

          • There’s a reason for that.

            A Latinization of “Ignatieff” rather than “Ignatiev” or “Ignat’ev” is the old 19th century way of doing it. Which was the way French speakers did it, ‘cuz French was the language of diplomacy. (You can see how Putin gets called Poutin in the French press.)

            Safire has fun with it here:

            So with the old transliterations, applying French phonology for sounds is your best bet. (It’s a bad guide for which syllable to emphasize, but once you’re at that part of the question, you’re far ahead in the game.)


            As for the pronunciation of “tieff” — no. At least, not in this name.

            But you’re not wrong in general — in plenty of words, -ьев gets pronounced “yov” rather than “yev”.

            Gorby, for one, as well as dear old Nikita “KhrusCHOV”.

          • Okay, in lay terms please: is Ig-na-te-yev different from Ig-Na-Ti-Uff ?

          • No idea.

            Anyway, just go watch the Count on Youtube, and you’ll never get it wrong again. (If you’d gotten it wrong.)

  7. Isn’t it pronounced ‘al Sadr’? We can have our own leader with a funny name for critics to butcher, like Barack Osama.

  8. A request for clarification has been filed with the opposition leader’s office. Stay tuned for further developments.

    Bunch of first rate detectives around here. Is there no video where Ignatieff pronounces his own name?

      • And then removing it seems to let it through as the original.

        Go figure.

      • Well, there you go. So the NDP are mangling his name.

        • Well… theirs is actually a more faithful anglicizing than his is.

          But if a man can’t change how his own name is pronounced, what _can_ he do?

          (I have maternal line relatives who turned a one-syllable “Hyun” into a two syllable “Hy-yun” in mid-century America… so I know how it is.)

          • How so? shouldn’t it have a t in it?

          • Same number of syllables as the original — 3, not Iggy’s 4.

            As for how the consonant mutates… go to ndp.ca and listen to their ads, and it’s not quite a “ch” sound, though I can see how one might hear it that way.

            Bottom line: the NDP got it more or less right from the Russian name, but the Ignatieffs have been here long enough (long enough that they spell it “Ignatieff” and not “Ignatiev” or “Ignat’ev”) that the pronunciation has already gone further afield.

            So they got it wrong by getting it right. :p

          • Same number of syllables as the original — 3, not Iggy’s 4.

            yeah, but they’re the wrong 3 syllables.

          • Slightly off, but much less off than his own version.

            It’s no worse than when my old Russian prof would ask for a “shit of pepper”. (Many Russians can’t distinguish between long and short vowels in English.)

      • See what happens when conservatives put their mind together to solve a problem? You get results. Usually. Only sometimes do you get the Reform party.

        • Obviously, “mind” should be pluralized.

          • Sarcasm preemption?

          • Where’s my $5 ?

          • Gee , I thought they were one medium sized mind anyway.

    • No. He says to just call him “Michael”.

      • You would think Layton would know how to say the name of the man he was hoping to form a government with. No wonder Ignatieff blew him off.

  9. I think it’s a blend of those two: Ig-Na-Chi-Uff

  10. I think this may be my favourite macleans.ca comment thread of all time.

    • It’s by far the most informative. I like how it drew all of the armchair Russian language experts out of the woodwork.

      • Yes, good to know who those are.

      • Well, that’s not me. I took Polish. Ask me how to pronounce Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski. You’ll be agog.

        • I haven’t been agog in a while, so…

          Ti-guy: Do you, by chance, know how to pronounce Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski? I’ve always wondered.

          • Yes. It’s pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. According to Polish spelling, that is. But it’s pretty phonetic.

            Kind of like “zbignyeff kazimiezh bzhezhinski.”

    • My Slavic Languages and Literatures degree finally becomes useful!

      Except that, as we found, the Ignatieffs have been here long enough that knowing the right way to say it leads you astray.

      I love what English does to the rest of the world’s vocab. :p

    • just started thinking that post ago as i read down to here… so goood!

    • Does that include the Senate reform one?

    • Agreed. While pondering the riddle while chewing cashews, they became lodged Ign a teef.

  11. I personally think there should be no subsidies available for this part of a political party’s budget. Donations that receive charitable status, including the hefty tax savings that the CONs refused to deal with when they tried to kick-out public financing of political parties, should not apply to pre-writ expenses.
    That being said, the playing field had already been established and I’d be shocked to hear that Harper doesn’t approve of the new ads. But the NdPers I know were disgusted with the CONs air attack the last time around; I think Layton’s just as likely going to miff some of his followers than attract new recruits with this decidedly ‘Republican-style’ campaign — that’s how he described it the last time.

    • Can Layton’s followers get miffed? From critical observation, I thought not.

      • Speaking as a new democrat, these commercials really irritate me. I always like to think the NDP is above these type of games, but I guess I’m wrong.

        • Okay, there can be miffness in the party.

      • Oh yeah. I Used to be an NDP supporter. Got miffed a ways back.

        • Well I used to, too. I’m talking about the miffness that occurs while remaining in the party.
          It seems that there is a lot of tolerance for Layton within the party.

  12. It is pronounced: IG-NA-HAR-PeR

    • And not “Ig-Na-Dion”?

      • No. Dion had (some) balls. Just call him Harper the II

  13. Has any one heard these adds?
    Michael is no longr in bed with Jack or jill, but has apparently hopped into the sack with Stephen who it seems harbours no ill will over Michaels brief flirtation with separitists and socialists. Now Mike and Steve are coalationing happily, whatever will J&J do now that their love has been so callously spurned.
    Tune in next week for another thrilling episode of : As the Parliament churns! Will Steve & Mikes new love last? Will J& J plot revenge? Or will Stephen simply prorogue parliament yet again?

    • They are on the front page of ndp.ca if anyone wants to hear them

    • Hey can you blame Steve – what did this date cost him a rose and 3 more dates! The real question is does Iggy get a kiss after?

      • A cheap date is, i imagine, Steve’s style ok. Now Michael is a connoisseur of fine whines and wont kiss for less than the keys to the kingdom. It’s going to take a lot more than a plastic rose and a couple of bottles of Alberta warmer to get him to pucker up!

        • I don’t know I kind of feel for Jacko as he had his new suit all picked out even a red tie and now he’s just standing there with lilted roses and apparently getting bitter, then again you never know … maybe in awhile when the dust settles down and the next confidence motion is in the house he’ll send a card to Stevie or Gillie for a little romantic rendezvous as it were. By the way Iggy might not be as high maintenance as you think ask Bobby R.

          • ” Mr Layton can always be relied upon, as he never fails to let you down.” SH.
            It’s the only really witty thng i’ve heard SH say. Aithough i suspect that someone handier than me could probably figure out if he plagiarised [ er borrowed ] it. I don’t understand Jack burning his bridges so early, it’s only politics, but i wonder if that silly little man still sees himself as PM one day?
            Come to think, i can’t recall any witticisms from Iggy either, maybe why he hasn’t really grabbed me yet!

          • Here’s the latest: Layton pretending to be a ‘left-wing ideologue’: PM

  14. What with Jack’s jumping up and down – and Howard Hampton’s red faced rages in Queens Park – the Dippers are doing more to increase global warming with all this hot air – than a week’s output from Ft. McMurray.

  15. From my semi-informed perspective these ads seem futile, unless there is a need to stoke anti-Liberal anger among pro-coalition NDP true believers. Maybe the sophisticated poll-readers of the political world see things differently.

  16. It’s pronounced Игнатьев.

    • Sorry, Ti-Guy.

  17. Doesn’t take much for a 4th place party to attract some attention.

    Just start to behave like a 1st place party.

    • Now yr catching on! Less outrageous! And more outrages.

  18. And such a good use of NDP funds. I hope the ads run and run and cost and cost. And will anyone else actually vote for the little bald twerp? No. That’s the really funny part.

    • I agree.

      I think Mr Layton is preaching. And I think he is preaching to the choir. At considerable expense.

      (or is it ‘preaching to the converted’ I never know)

    • Get informed, 16% of Canadians voted for them.

      • You know what the really funny part is? you sound like a fool with such ignorant comments. 16% is a lot of people.

        • I don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate here. Could you rephrase your point a little differently? I didn’t quite grasp it the first three times.

          • Hey its Kermit the frog! HELLLOO!

    • You know what the really funny part is? you sound like a fool with such ignorant comments. 16% is a lot of people. A LOT.

      • And about 30 percent of Americans think the universe is 6000 years old. Now that’s a lot of people.

        What’s your point? Layton can’t preach to that big of a choir?

        • WTF? are you an evangelical christian? do you want me to convert? or WTH are you talking about? Whats YOUR point?

          • Actually I’m an atheist. But go ahead and convert if you want. As to the point, it might have been shifted by one reply box. See above.

  19. PEOPLE – It is not up to the Russians or even Mr. ignatieff himself to decide how his name is pronounced. We are a democracy and we get to pronounce it how we like, just like the Americans get to say eye-rak and pack-iss-tan. I call for a vote!

  20. The weasel Layton is burning with anger and has lost sight of working for Canada, assuming he was ever sincere about that one. Layton had Dion in the dental chair after the good man was under the influence of a chemical imbalance. Layton, like a vampire with fangs millimeters away from a ripe, pulsating blood vessel was foiled when Dion was replaced by a more alert more capable Michael Ignatief.

    During this entire farce, we have learned many disappointing things about Mr. Layton. Suffice it to say that Mr. Layton’s stature as a human being is far less than his height.

    • Well at least you’re not bitter! :P

      • Jeesh … the only guy that actually stands up for his principles and votes against the gov’t because he belivees they are wrong and this is the respect he gets. Gotta be a Liberal as let’s face it they are rolling over putting their paws in the air and demanding that Harper rubs their belly or else! Enjoy your moment in the sun LPC’ers while it lasts – remember Stephanies honeymoon and look at what happened to him relegated to a position beneath Joe Who (Clark in case you don’t know)

  21. I really wish James was more clear in his point. Maybe if he repeated it a couple more times we would understand.

    Is 16% of voters a lot of people?

  22. His name is pronounced “ig-naa-tyeff”, with the accent on the second syllable. And you meant to write “in the opinion of John and me”, not “John and I”. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to be pompously pedantic – always enjoyable.

  23. I thought it was pronounced “Spartacus”?