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Wordblog revived

incorporating New Life

Pronunciation pitfalls

One of the nice features of the BBC Editors blog is the “How to say” pieces. Yesterday it was Clydach in South Wales — KLID-uhkh (kh as in Scottish “loch”).

Broadcasters really should be forced to take notice. A few nights ago a TV presenter (I can’t remember whether it was on the BBC or not) kept on mispronouncing Tonyrefail (also in South Wales) and did not pick up on the correct version from the people he was interviewing. My wife who comes from that part of the world muttered and complained throughout with the result that is all I now remember about the programme.

Learning pronunciation of place names is valuable for print reporters too. When I worked in Wales I learned because not being understood when seeking directions could make me late for the story.

It helped when filing copy as well in those days when we made transfer call charges, and the operator wanted to know where you were phoning from. My decision to learn Welsh place name pronunciation came late on a wet and windy night in a valley where there had been a murder.

“Where are you calling from?” the operator asked. I looked down and, in horror, saw the phone was on the Ynysybwl exchange.


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  1. Bridget Vizoso says

    Please advise me on the proper English pronunciation of the word Bouquet. I have had the discussion with a colleague  who argues that it is pronounced “bookay” by the higher classes and “bo-kay” by the working class. I argue that the proper English and not French pronunciation is what should be used and that it does not connote a class distinction.