Ancient Worlds

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John Maidment has drawn attention to Richard Miles’ yodophobia. I mentioned his pronunciation of confines in my last post, but now, having watched all the series, I can give a list of some, frankly, astonishing pronunciations he has used in the course of the six-week series.

Tigris                       ˈtɪgrɪs

Chaldees                 ˈtʃældiːz

Levant                    ˈlevænt

Sennacherib         senətʃəˈrɪb   and   senætʃəˈrɪb

Boeotia                   bəʊˈiːʃə

Areopagus             ærɪəˈpɑːgəs

Seleucus                səˈluːsəs

monotheistic       mɒnəθəʊˈɪstɪk (twice, so it wasn’t a slip of the tongue)

coup de grace      ˈkuː də ˈgrɑː (no, I haven’t forgotten the final /s/)

As well as these, there was total inconsistency in the treatment of Greek names – Mycenae was anglicised to /maɪˈsiːni/, but Pylos, /ˈpiːlɒs/, was not, while Delos was: /ˈdiːlɒs/, leading me to wonder where he was talking about from time to time, as I could not immediately relate his pronunciation to either the Greek or anglicised version of the name. Thersites /θəˈsiːteɪz/ was given a more-Greek-like pronunciation, rather than /θəˈsaɪtiːz/, the normal anglicisation.

Darius was /ˈdærɪəs/ rather than /dəˈraɪəs/ and mementoes became /məʊˈmentəʊz/ – common pronunciations, but should we really expect to hear them from an eminent TV presenter?

I don’t think Richard Miles should shoulder all the blame – his producers, of whom there are at least four named in various capacities in the closing titles (Maria Powell, Melanie Archer, Tim Kirby, Eamonn Hardy) should have made certain that there was someone on hand to check for consistency – or is it assumed that an expert in one aspect of a subject is therefore expert in all its aspects, including language?

One Comment

  1. However reasonable it might once have been to assume that an “expert” in one aspect of a subject is therefore expert in, or at least capable of, checking all its aspects, including at least language, it’s probably no longer even safe to assume in these days of universal incompetence that producers, however many of them there are, are expert at producing. The polite fictions of commentators about the performance of all the functionaries involved in these performances are getting the more transparent the worse the performance and performances get. Don’t join the conspiracy to exonerate all laisser-faire. It must be especially painful for you to witness this sort of farrago seeping all over even the Beeb once you are no longer on sentry duty.

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