Eric Hayman has commented that BBC newsreaders and journalists are vacillating between /bɑːˈhreɪn/ (where /h/ may represent either a glottal fricative or a velar fricative) and /bɑːˈreɪn/, leaving the orthographic ‘h’ unpronounced.

I cannot believe that the Pronunciation Unit has changed its recommendation, which was always the second of these, and was published as such in both the BBC English Dictionary published by Harper Collins, and the Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation. To me, /bɑːˈreɪn/ is as well established an anglicisation as any other country name, and I don’t see any point in tinkering with it. It just sounds pretentious to me, and I’ve noticed that some broadcasters, even when they’ve made the effort to pronounce the ‘h’ in some way on the first occasion they need to say it, have then reverted to the anglicisation on further mentions of the name.


  1. This comment is very timely. I dont disagree with the OB(BC)G recommendation that /bɑː`reɪn/ is a perfectly unobjectionable way of saying the word Bahrain but that’s the way I’d put the point. I strongly disagree with those who object to the use of /bɑː`hreɪn/ or /bɑː`xreɪn/ by those broadcasters who’re willing to have a shot at a version of the word which distorts the Arabic version a little less than the easier one that the BBC unit perfectly reasonably recommends. I can fully understand that those who hear the word in its Arabic version, from Arabic speakers and others, are game to have a shot at the closer approximation. And I fully approve of their saying it in further occurrences in the more relaxed style.

  2. I don’t think I have yet heard anyone attempting anything but
    [beŋˈɡɑːzi] for Benghazi.

  3. I have heard [bənɣæːzi], but that was from a NS of Arabic on Al Jazeera English.

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