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MTIn one of the recent scripts I translated for Deutsche Welle I encountered a rather striking name for one of the interview partners: Truly Seedie. Timur, the German journalist, had obviously been had. She was a woman who poured out her sob-story of losing her home to the subprime mortgage crisis. I elected not to inform him of the prank, since the name was not to be heard in the commentary nor to be seen in any on-screen inserts. But she seemed like such a nice lady to have perpetrated such a potentially damaging hoax on poor Timur. She was joining a long-standing tradition of practical joking by inventing names disguised cleverly enough to slip past any censorious editors unnoticed and appear in print, where it might provoke guffaws from somewhat more alert viewers or readers. Some weeks ago, for example, a man appeared on the news in Florida, tagged with the name C. L. Itoris. I’ve never understood why, aside from the obvious grammatical difficulties, Germans hardly play with words and have virtually no sense of puns and word-plays when they run across them. I could count on the fingers of one hand all the really good word-plays I’ve seen or heard in 26 years of living in Germany.

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