British broadcasters

AAllan at AOL.COM AAllan at AOL.COM
Sun Jan 30 16:04:05 UTC 2000

Please reply directly to the inquirer, as well as to the list, if you list. -
Allan Metcalf
. . . . I was reminded of a

question that's been on my mind for some time, not about American

accents, but about the British accents we often hear from BBC

reporters affiliated with NPR and CNN.

I've noticed that many American broadcast journalists try their best

to pronounce names of foreign places and people as much like the

native speakers as possible, rolling their r's and so on, sometimes

excessively so.

In contrast, I've also noticed that many (though of course not all)

of the British correspondents make no such attempt whatsoever: a

certain Central American capital is "Mannaggwer" while Earth's

largest continent is "Aysher." But even more striking to my ears has

been the fact that many of these reporters stress foreign names in a

manner opposite from every other voice on the air: Bel-GRADE, East Ti-

MOR. And the Prime Minister of Israel is BAR-rack, just like the

buildings where soldiers live but without the final s.

When I started noticing that many of the British correspondents end

their sentences with an unusual (to my ears) change in pitch and

tempo I was fairly certain that I'd seen Monty Python skits where

Python "newscasters" used this seemingly unnatural cadence for comic

effect. I began to wonder how much of the speech characteristics of

the British broadcasters were learned conventions (like the

Transatlantic English mentioned on the show) and no more a natural

part of British speech than my own.

Obviously, this is not a question of earth-shattering importance, but

if you are able to offer any insights it would be greatly appreciated.


Ken Miller

Demorest Georgia
purplechez at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list