In last week’s In Our Time, (Radio 4, Thursday 14 October) one of Melvyn Bragg’s guests was Tim Blanning, Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at Cambridge University The discussion was about the Sturm und Drang movement in 18th Century Germany.

In the course of the programme, Professor Blanning used the word protagonists, but he pronounced it /prəˈtædʒənɪsts/. I wonder if he also says /ænˈtædʒənaɪz/ and /ænˈtædʒənɪst/. This is a pronunciation not given by any of the current pronunciation dictionaries, but I wonder if, being an eminent scholar, he is setting a trend for the future?


  1. If Tim Blanning is a ‘pronunciation protagonist’, then there are ever so many bl**dy protagonists.

  2. If he pronounces ‘protagonist’ in a way that makes the august university that Emeritized him a laughing stock, I wonder whether he even knows what it means. Most people apparently don’t these days!

  3. This incident reminds me of the wrong spelling engraved in the glass doors of the entrance to the Dep. of Classics at Cambridge University (same university – different department). The Greek word for ‘nature’ was spelled with a Latin letter ‘S’ instead of the Greek ‘Σ’. Sic transit …

  4. What next? /ˈædʒəni/? /ˈdrædʒən/? /ˈseɪdʒəʊ/?

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