Blaenau Gwent


Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Editor, reported on the employment situation in this constituency on Wednesday, 22 April, Budget Day here in Britain. However, he did not do his homework properly, for he made the classic mistake of non-Welsh speakers by pronouncing the first word of the place /ˈblaɪnaʊ/ instead of /ˈblaɪnaɪ/.

Yet again, 2 million people in Wales will be accusing the BBC of being Anglocentric. As so often, either a call to the BBC’s Pronunciation Unit, or nowadays a couple of clicks on the pronunciation database, which he has as part of his BBC desktop, and he would have avoided this error.

Why is it too much trouble for journalists to check such an obviously difficult name?


  1. Graham: Why is it too much trouble for journalists to check such an obviously difficult name?

    Surely the point is that Easton didn’t realize it was a difficult name: he simply made the reasonable assumption that -au represents /aʊ/.

  2. Well, at the risk of seeming naïve, perhaps because they do not realise that it is “an obviously difficult name”. As you observe, most non-Welsh-speaking British speakers would pronounce it as /ˈblaɪnaʊ/, and I would venture to suggest that many, if not most, would think that they were pronouncing it correctly …

  3. Except most native speakers would only say /ˈblaɪnaɪ/ rather than /ˈblaɪna/, /ˈblaɪnæ/, or /ˈblaɪnɛ/ if they were speaking deliberately properly. It’s no coincidence that the town after which the constituency is named is usually spelt in English as Blaina (eugh!).

  4. Agreed that he may not have realised before he went there that it was a difficult name, but once in the place, he should, as a conscientious journalist, have checked – just as a print journalist would check the spelling of a name before committing it to print.

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