All three of the current standard pronouncing dictionaries of English give only one pronunciation for this historic Syrian place name – /pælˈmaɪrə/. I assume that this is still the recommendation of the Pronunciation Unit, and yet today, almost every commentator, reporter or newsreader that I’ve heard on either BBC Radio or TV – including those on Radio 4 who I can usually rely on to follow the Unit’s recommendations – has said /pælˈmiːrə/.

Is it time for a rethink?


  1. Lynette – Thanks for keeping us up to date with US usage!

  2. Roach & Co in the CEPD 18th edition of the Jones diction’ry are more up to date than you give them credit for being. They have \ pælˈmaɪə.rə, -mɪə.rə\.

  3. Thanks, Jack. I must get a copy!

  4. /p a l m ɪ́ː ɹ ə, pælˈmɪərə / is the only pronunciation acknowledged by the authors of the CUBE dictionary:

  5. Thanks, Alex! Having spoken to Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC a week or so ago about this, I’m surprised that the alternative /pælˈmaɪərə/ isn’t also given, since both are now accepted by the Pronunciation Unit. The question also arises, where does CUBE get its BBC pronunciations from? Is Speakeasy (the BBC database) available somewhere on the web that no one has told me about? The only pronunciation given in the Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation is pal-my-ruh /palˈmʌɪrə/.

  6. Graham, you might want to ask phonetician Geoff Lindsey:

  7. Alex – I’ve asked Geoff, and it seems it’s just what he hears as the consensus of BBC journalists.

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