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

July 23, 2007
by Graham

Spanish sportsmen

What is it about Spanish names that sports commentators can never get them right? For the past four days, not a single BBC sports reporter or commentator has pronounced Sergio García’s first name correctly (let’s leave aside for the moment … Continue reading

June 19, 2007
by Graham
1 Comment

Salman Rushdie

The knighthood conferred on this author has brought him back into the spotlight. Unfortunately, many people still find it difficult to pronounce his name correctly, including some BBC newsreaders (Natasha Kaplinsky on 18 June, for instance). The man in the … Continue reading

June 18, 2007
by Graham


A number of broadcasting journalists are of Asian origin. Most – if not all – of them speak English without any trace of a “foreign” or non-native accent – until it comes to names from their parents’ part of the … Continue reading