Pat Robertson’s rebuke of Haiti yesterday has left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Now he is correcting himself by saying that he thought Hades had suffered a massive earthquake. According to Wikipedia, in Christian theology, hades “refers to the abode of the dead” while in Greek mythology, Hades refers to the Greek underworld or the god of the underworld.
As far as I know, there is no country nor city in the world called Hades. Perhaps Mr. Robertson truly believes the Greek underworld “does in fact have a pact with the Devil.” Talk about getting your signals crossed!
In a germane posting on the Language Log, “conventional English version of foreign names is often — even usually — quite far away from the native’s version.” So maybe if we pronounced Haiti correctly, then Mr. Robertson wouldn’t have made these shameful remarks towards people who are in need of help, not aspersions.