Monday, September 24, 2012


Yesterday, (Sunday) I found myself shouting at the radio. My dander was up, 'it' was just so wrong.  I don't suppose I am the only one to  get annoyed with an inanimate object. 

There is a radio programme called 'Profile', during which some individual, not necessarily an amazing celebrity or anything, has the outline of the their life and marvellous activities almost laid bare.  Some of the narrations are done well. A few are not.  When that happens, why bother to broadcast the programme? The answer is, it probably filled a blank slot, or, stepped into a breach. 

I digress just a little.  The latest offering drifted through the waves via the sound of a 'bored-caster', who, was exceedingly ignorant about place names in the United Kingdom. The BBC used to have a pronunciation unit.  With the example of this programme, I can only assume, the unit has been axed.  Surely though, there must have been someone around who could have picked up on the glaring error.  

So, there I was shouting, "Y-O-U  D-O  N-O-T  S-A-Y   I-T   L-I-K-E  T-H-A-T!!"  The guy who was being profiled, was born in Scotland in a place that was mispronounced,  and he went to school in that mispronounced  locality.  And the next mis-pronunciation heard me shouting in sheer frustration, "You say it like this!" ........

John Sergeant, of more recent  dubious T.V. ballroom dancing prancing renown, than broadcasting prowess, it was inexcusable of you to tell us that your subject had been born in 'Ban-tchory'.   Talk about a talent for complete name distortion, you had it, and in spades.  According to you, the guy grew up in 'Ban-tchory',  in Scotland, and had also been to school in 'Ban-tchory'.  

Take note John Sergeant and the British Broadcasting Corporation; the 'ch'  in Banchory is pronounced like a 'k', thus, Mr Seargeant,  the place name should have been pronounced, Bank_ory...  Banchory, nestles in Aberdeenshire.   Your producers should have done their homework, and got you to correct yours.  Quality assurance was woefully adrift.


Vincent said...

At the risk of diverting your understandable ire to a different target, my dear ZACL, my own ranting at the BBC, which can be provoked by a hundred, nay a thousand things, is often for the opposite reason.

I think they take far too much trouble to pronounce foreign names correctly. What's wrong with Peking? What's wrong with Bombay, Calcutta etc? But no, it has to be the latest thing, Beijing, Mumbai, Kolkata.

But I don't mind those any more. Angela Merkel has a perfectly good Christian name, well known in this country. But they insist on pronouncing it the German way so we all like to call her Angular Merkel now. The BBC doesn't say Paree or Roma.

the most infuriating mispronunciation that I hear is lawnjeray, which is pretty far from the French, which correctly sounds like lanzherie. I haven't heard the bbc say it but they sometimes work on the principle that the popular mistake is now correct because it is popular.

But I suppose, coming back to your point, they should pronounce Scottish names right because the Scots remain licence-payers, though I suppose the SNP have the plan to steal the transmissions off the airwaves if Scotland becomes a sovereign country.

If that happens, I shall no longer tolerate your complaints, dear ZACL.

ZACL said...

I am tempted to say...'trust you to be agent provocateur' Vincent, but I won't.

Your comment is incisive and amusing.

I am fussy about current pronunciations,insomuch as they educate me to social changes. If non-native speakers, (excluding Americans)try to wring out our place names as appropriately as possible, we should have the good manners to pay the same compliment, irrespective of where the place or name is situated, or, who rules what.

Universal communication of all types of nouns, personal and place, goes a long way to develop other universal understandings

Anonymous said...

Yes, what ARE the rules?? It always annoys me too ... but then I like to do people the courtesy of pronouncing their names correctly in their native language. Strange that the same does not go for place names. I suspect that saying names with an English/Scottish pronunciation may be an overhand from our imperialist past ... ;)

ZACL said...

Not quite sure what you mean by Scottish/Imperialist past, Gillyk. We have a proud Pictish and Viking heritage; even more ancient is a Celtic one, which as far as I know encompassed large areas of Scotland. In the Central Belt, there was a language which the English would manage to understand, so I hear, and in Aberdeenshire, The Doric was and is spoken. Mostly in the Western Isles of Scotland Gaelic is spoken. Many place names reflect this varied cultural heritage.

In 1603 James the V1 of Scotland was also crowned James 1 of England, thereby conjoining the crowns of the two countries. Parliamentary union did not occur till 1707 with The Act Of Union. Then later the House Of Stuart was replaced by the House Of Orange, followed by the House of Hanover and their various continental spouses. I am sure none of them would have had any bother pronouncing any of the place names in Scotland. I cannot be so specific about Ireland or Wales.

As for 'rules', they are likely to be as 'straightforward' (now there's a word to illustrate the point) as much of the rest of the pronunciation of the English language, and the others too. One rule of thumb is to find out what the local practice and use is.

snowbird said...

Oh....yes, I'm with you on this...I was almost shouting reading this!!!!
Infuriating is what it is, and when it happens I feel compelled to continue to listen in the hope they may finally get it right.xxxxx

ZACL said...

Hello Snowbird,

I am glad I am not isolated in my sense of indignation at blatant ignorance, and broadcast far and wide too. I sincerely hope this does not hit The World Service airwaves. Perish the thought.

Vincent said...

I notice you are receiving spam comments. I've found that the way to avoid them is to disallow anonymous comments.

ZACL said...

Thanks Vincent.

I have one difficulty, Vincent, with operating the exclusion of 'anonymous' comments and that is a genuine contact who I have, who does not seem able to change her status. I am going to have another go at assisting her to change what she does.

I have to admit, I am pretty fed up with the unwanted intrusion.