July 24, 2008
by Graham

Radovan Karadžić

With this man’s arrest at the weekend, broadcasters are once more having to struggle with the pronunciation of his name. The BBC recommendation, which corresponds to that given in most if not all manuals of pronunciation for Serbian, is to … Continue reading

May 1, 2008
by Graham
1 Comment

My name

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Oxford University Press published three books of names: The Oxford Dictionary of Surnames (Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, 1988); A Dictionary of First Names (Hanks and Hodges, 1990); and A Dictionary of English Place-Names … Continue reading

December 6, 2007
by Graham

Ps and Qs

Both my son and my daughter have reported that when giving their name, it has been repeated back to them as “Quinton” rather than “Pointon”, and this has twice happened to me recently. Neither name is particularly common. What we … Continue reading

November 26, 2007
by Graham

Beijing vs Peking

A letter in the Independent newspaper last week (Wednesday 21 November), from Shirin Tata of London, explained the spelling and pronunciation of Peking as ‘a close approximation to the Cantonese name for the city (“puck-ing” with a hard “p”)’. This … Continue reading

October 23, 2007
by Graham

Kofi Annan

Abdul is right in his comment on “Kofi Annan and Edward Stourton”: the news readers can’t deal with the sounds and phonotactics of other languages – and the Pronunciation Research Unit doesn’t expect them to. As he points out, the … Continue reading