The BBC’s Arts guru Mark Lawson is setting himself up as an expert in Scandinavian crime writing. As such, you would think that he would care about the pronunciation of the names of the writers he’s interviewing and talking about, wouldn’t you? Not a bit of it! In a programme broadcast this lunchtime on BBC Radio 4, he managed to mangle Sjöwall (his version: /ʃəˈvæl/), Wahlöö (/vəˈluː/), Staalesen (/ˈstɑːləsən/), and Åsa (Larsson) (/ˈeɪsə/). I’ll forgive him /ˈlɑːsən/, as some dialects of Swedish would pronounce the ‘s’ in this way, but the others simply prove that he has no ear for language at all – at least two of these names were spoken by other Scandinavians in the course of the programme.
I’ve thought before that he is too proud to consult the Pronunciation Unit (I don’t remember ever speaking to him when I worked there). Either that, or he thinks he knows better. Whichever, his producer should have more control.
Better anglicized pronunciations for these names would have been: /ˈʃɜvæl/, /ˈvɑːlɜ/, /ˈstɔːləsən/, /ˈɔːsə/, and /ˈlɑːʃən/.