Russian news articles about Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen, for example this recent one, always seem to transliterate his last name as Ферстаппен instead of (what I would expect) Верстаппен. What is the reason for this? Pronouncing his name in Dutch with an F would sound rather odd. The same article transliterates the name of one of his opponents, Valtteri Bottas, as Валттери Боттас. Is it because that would cause the 'е' to be pronounced as (using IPA notation) ɪ (like e.g. in велик)? If so, wouldn't make using an э, so Вэрстаппен, more sense? Or am I overthinking the difference in pronunciation between Ф and В too much?

  • 3
    I know in German F1 broadcasts the name is pronounced with an 'F'-like sound as well. So shabunc may be spot on. Oct 26, 2020 at 19:27
  • In Dutch it's often difficult to distinguish the pronunciation of F from V. Many native speakers don't (especially northerners). I suspect that the reason lies there more than in the difference in Russian between Ф and В.
    – phoog
    Oct 26, 2020 at 20:15
  • 1
    @0xC0000022L Czech commentators do so as well. Oct 27, 2020 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia indeed mentions that this corresponds to practical Dutch transliteration, as you can clearly see from exactly the article linked. A Dutch "v" is usually transliterated as "в", we say "ван Дамм" and "Велдховен", not "фан Дамм" and "Фелдховен".

However - and that fact might seem quite annoying to Dutchmen, quite often if the name sounds German enough (and Verstappen does sound that way) by mistake it is transliterated that way. In fact, in past times sometimes it used to happen even with English names (see the pic - yep, it's Бертран Рассел).

enter image description here

If a mistake was made once, it can stay for a long time, if not forever, because people sort of got used to it.

  • 2
    I'm confused: is the usual transliteration of “Russell” the one given in the answer, the one shown in the image or a third one?
    – DaG
    Oct 26, 2020 at 15:59
  • I would add that the voicing of Dutch v (as well as of g and z) is rather light, and in some areas (mainly in the Netherlands, especially in the north) these voiced fricatives are in fact unvoiced (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_phonology#Obstruents). Someone's pronunciation of the name may have influenced the transliteration.
    – phoog
    Oct 26, 2020 at 20:07
  • @DaG the usual transliteration is "Бертран Рассел"
    – shabunc
    Oct 26, 2020 at 20:08
  • Thanks, @shabunc! I didn't understand well what “it used to happen” referred to. I assume “transcriptions that don't correspond to pronunciation”, right?
    – DaG
    Oct 26, 2020 at 20:12
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    @phoog my guess would be that it's another example of how one language (French in this case) affects transliteration from some other language.
    – shabunc
    Oct 26, 2020 at 20:20

Because it makes a difference between W and V W is usually transliterated into В or У (for example dr. Watson in different translations is доктор Ватсон or доктор Уотсон, but the first one is more popular) and V transliterates into Ф. Also it can depend of the original language, in this case Dutch

  • Welcome to Russian Language! I'm not so sure about your claim of V to Ф; I already mentioned Valtteri Bottas -> Валттери Боттас in the question.
    – Glorfindel
    Oct 29, 2020 at 15:57

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