British broadcasters

James E. Clapp jeclapp at WANS.NET
Mon Jan 31 13:58:51 UTC 2000

Lynne Murphy wrote:
> Ken Miller asks about British pronunciations of foreign terms and place names.
> There does seem to be some weird xenophobic tendency in some Brit
> pronunciations.

That seems a little harsh.  Is it xenophobic to use one's own language or
dialect to pronounce words and names when speaking one's own language or
dialect, or is it pretentious to try (seldom successfully) to ape the native
pronunciation?  I don't think it's xenophobic to say "Paris" instead of "Paree,"
or to pronounce "New York" with a southern or midwestern accent if one is a
southerner or midwesterner (instead of self-consciously trying to say "Noo
Yawk"--which, even though I've lived here for over a quarter of a century, I
still can't get quite right.)

Though I personally like to show off my knowledge, such as it is, of foreign
pronunciations (probably making a fool of myself more often than not), the
English practice of anglicizing foreign words has always struck me as rather
nice--unaffected, down-to-earth, consistent.

But I'm sure pronunciation of loan words and foreign names has been done to
death on this list and in professional literature.

[I think it was somewhere other than on this list, though, that I heard an
anecdote about a news person many years ago asking a visitor from Moscow to
resolve a debate about whether the name should be pronounced -cow (as in bovine)
or -coe (as in Roscoe).  The visitor, needless to say, was stumped.]

James E. Clapp

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