Pan-Romance spelling in San Antonio

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Scott Cacciola, "The United Nations of the Hardwood: San Antonio Spurs Use Language Barriers to Their Advantage", NYT 6/15/2014:

The Spurs, as has been well established, have developed an international flair under Coach Gregg Popovich. Eight players on the current roster were born outside the United States. Loosely translated, that means the Spurs use at least four languages — English, Spanish, French and Italian — to communicate among themselves.

[…] The Spurs’ predominant language, of course, is English. Everyone on the team speaks it fluently, and the coaching staff encourages the players to use English.

All of this multilinguality seems to have confused Cacciola and his editors a bit:

Popovich, who majored in Soviet studies at the Air Force Academy, draws on his past experiences when he interacts with players, and it goes beyond quizzing them on world affairs. When Hedo Turkoglu and Rasho Nesterovic were Spurs teammates several years ago, Popovich was capable of conversing with them in broken Serbian.  

This season, Popovich has largely stuck with English, although there are exceptions. He sometimes greets Belinelli with an enthusiastic “Bonjourno!” (Or something that approximates enthusiasm for Popovich.)  

"Bonjourno" seems to be a poly-orthographic approximation for Italian "buongiorno", with "bon" and "jour" perhaps from French "bonjour". "Buenjourno" would have brought in some Spanish as well, but …



  1. Fernando Colina said,

    June 16, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    If I'm not mistaken, the Spanish player, Tiago Splitter, is portuguese by birth, so Bomjourno, pronounced bonjourno, would be close enough.

    [(myl) Good point.]

  2. J. W. Brewer said,

    June 16, 2014 @ 9:19 am

    This *could* be an attempt at eye-dialect, trying to convey that Popovich doesn't even manage to pronounce buongiorno with an American-Tourist-In-Italy (or American comedian attempting Stage-Italian) accent, but instead pronounces it with, I dunno, the first syllable of bon-bon followed by the first syllable of journalism?

    I was initially puzzled by why a player named Hedo Turkoglu would understand "broken Serbian" but wikipedia clarifies that although (as one might have inferred from the name) he was born and raised in Turkey, his parents were immigrants/refugees from Tito-ruled Bosnia, and he thus grew up in Istanbul speaking the Former Yugoslav Language of Serbo-Croatian at home.

  3. Alec Sugar said,

    June 16, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

    For the record: Tiago Splitter is Brazilian. The only two players on the roster that I imagine actually communicate with each other in a non-English language would be Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, both from France, unless argentine Manu Ginobili can speak Italian with Belinelli.

  4. Morten Jonsson said,

    June 16, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

    @ Alec Sugar

    Ginobili does indeed speak Italian with Belinelli when he needs to communicate something more readily.. I wouldn't be surprised if he also sometimes spoke Spanish with Splitter, who played for ten years in Spain and is in fact a Spanish citizen. So the writer may very well be correct about the Spurs using four languages.

  5. Michael Proctor said,

    June 16, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

    Patty Mills is of South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage – I wonder if he speaks any Meriam Mìr or Kala Lagaw Ya …

  6. RobertL said,

    June 17, 2014 @ 1:50 am

    That reminds me of when Fabio Capello (an Italian) became manager of the England football team.

    He phoned David Beckham, who was then playing and living in Los Angeles. Beckham was nearing the end of his career, and there was doubt about whether the new manager would pick him for England, so Capello phoned him to discuss Beckham's ongoing role.

    So an Italian manager based in England phoned an English player based in the US to talk about football.

    Q. What language did they use?
    A. Spanish – because Capello coached the Real Madrid club team while Beckham was playing there.

    At the time, it struck me as showing how cosmopolitan world sports can be.

  7. Ted said,

    June 17, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

    According to the Times article (which myl links to, although there's a paywall), Ginobli speaks both Italian with Belinelli and Spanish with Splitter. (There are a few other Italian speakers in the NBA, however — the Times identifies Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari, and Kobe Bryant, and suggests that Ginobli and Belinelli are more circumspect when playing against them.) Parker and Diaw speak French with each other. As far as I know, however, Mills and fellow Aussie Aron Baynes communicate entirely in English.

  8. Ted said,

    June 17, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    The article points out, though, Mills and Baynes "have their own dialect," presumably AusE.

    In addition, Parker and Diaw "know some Italian, enough to eavesdrop on conversations between Ginobili and Belinelli."

  9. Pete said,

    June 19, 2014 @ 2:17 am

    No, it's a simple mis-spelling. I've seen "buongiorno" spelt "bonjourno" before, by people who know it's the Italian word for hello/good morning but aren't familiar with Italian spelling.

    A friend of mine who lives in Italy sometimes says "Buongiorno, bitches". Another friend, who knows no Italian, emailed her recently (copying me in) and began his email "Bonjourno bitches".

    I'm sure it must be quite common as the French word "bonjour" is well known and often seen in writing.

  10. Pete said,

    June 19, 2014 @ 2:19 am

    A quick google of "bonjourno" confirms that it's a common misspelling of "buongiorno"

  11. Pete said,

    June 19, 2014 @ 2:19 am

    A quick google of "bonjourno" confirms that it's a common misspelling of "buongiorno"

  12. Colin Fine said,

    June 23, 2014 @ 7:24 am

    A football team called Spurs that isn't Tottenham? Shame!

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