What's in a name?

The Hyundai A-League is a cultural melting pot and there are many ways fans and stakeholders can respect that diversity - pronouncing the players' names correctly is a good place to start.

Players born in 60 different countries have taken part in the Hyundai A-League since the competition kicked-off eight years ago.

And with many Australian-born players having parents and grandparents hailing from all parts of the globe, the diverse multicultural nature of the A-League is a wonderful dimension that no other major competition in the country comes close to having.

The cosmopolitan collection of the A-League's players and coaches provides an insight into the diversity of the world's cultures, through a player's playing technique, a coach's coaching philosophy or a team's style of play.

And followers of football in Australia are more likely to know that the outside world is a bigger and far more interesting place than that provided by merely watching American sit-coms, hearing the latest British royal family gossip, and eating at Chinese restaurants.

There are many ways that fans and the various stakeholders of the A-League can show respect to, and even promote, the cultural diversity that this massive multicultural mix of its players and coaches deserves.

Basic pronunciation of the names of the league's most valuable assets - its players - is one such way.

However, for a sport that prides itself on multicultural awareness, the lack of effort into pronouncing the names of some players properly is intriguing.

In fact many of the league's foremost players constantly have their names pronounced incorrectly, or at least not to their native enunciation.

The persistent mispronunciation of players with names of Slavic origin seems to be the worst cases.

Legends such Ante Covic (generally mispronounced KOV-ICH), Pedj Bojic (BOW-ICH), and the famous Culina family (KUL-EENA or even worse KAL-EENA) must be so used to being called these ways, they must think they have had their names changed by deed poll.

For the record, the native pronunciation of Covic is more like CHOV-ICH, Bojic is BOY-ICH and Culina is CHUL-INA.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Mile Sterjovski. If Mile's first name was meant to be pronounced MEE-LAY then he would have been born Meelay. It's MI as in 'mid' and LE as in 'led'.

And anyone with a basic knowledge of European languages should realise that a Slavic or Latin 'j' is usually pronounced the English 'y', like in Juventus. Therefore it's MI-LE STER-YOV-SKI, not MEE-LAY STER-DJOV-SKI.

Now I don't consider myself a linguistic expert at all. I'm not really sure how newer kids on the A-League block like Belgian Stein Huysegems and Dutchman Stefan Nijland have their names pronounced in their native tongues.

However, the enormous influence of those with ancestry from the various former Yugoslav countries surely means Australian football followers should have a much better idea of how to pronounce a name of native Croatian, Serbian or Macedonian origin.

Especially Australian players the ilk of Covic, Culina, Bojic and Sterjovski. Perhaps we shouldn't blame the media - and therefore the wider football community - for pronouncing these players' names in these ways.

I'm sure most, if not all, of these players are happy to accept the “Australianisation” of their family names.

I know the best commentators do check with club media managers, or even the players themselves, as to the pronunciation of their names - which may be what they have been called throughout their entire lifetimes.

And who am I to tell some people I haven't even met how their names should be pronounced?

But I do wonder why such names continue to be anglicised. I presume it's a throwback to the days where migrants from anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland felt they had to Australianise their names, or at least the pronunciation of them, to better “assimilate” into their newly-adopted country. So the parents could get a job, because their real names weren't dinkum Aussie enough. So the kids wouldn't be teased at school, because their names weren't Smith or Jones.

Maybe the world game in Australia can help lead the way out of this out-dated notion, and instead of sweeping these supposedly strange foreign names under the carpet, start actively promoting the native pronunciation of these names.

Names that should be properly and proudly reflecting where they and their descendants came from.

It's surely the respect that those whose ancestors came from non-English speaking lands deserve.

Follow Andrew Howe-s Aussie football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto