Pronunciation 101

Last updated: 7th June 2020.

In the past, broadcasting organisations – particularly the BBC – were quite strict about standards of pronunciation among on-air talent, such as presenters, announcers and voiceover artists. Regional accents were rarely heard. Received pronunciation was very much the BBC standard.

Though we certainly aren’t advocating the “old BBC” stance, the underlying recognition of the importance of these broadcast roles in educating the nation is still very valid today. This is not restricted to what the presenter/announcer/voiceover artist is saying – how they are saying it is important too.

Regional accents are a key element of the culture of any country. It’s right and proper that UK broadcasters represent the country’s diverse range of identities in their mix of on-air talent.

There’s lots of room for manoeuvre for regional accents, where they can remain within the general boundaries of the accepted pronunciation of words. It can sound nothing like received pronunciation but still be perfectly fine.

Where we have a problem is where the pronunciation is just plain wrong. A good example of this is where UK broadcasters venture into US pronunciation, which is quite different from our pronunciation in some cases. Or, where the pronunciation is so off, that it sounds like another word.

Here’s an initial list of words/terms/place names that are often mispronounced on UK TV/radio by UK natives. We’ll add to this over time.

If there are any others you’d like to share with us, let us know via our Contact form or Twitter feed.

The biggest offender on this list, by quite a margin, is Schedule.

WordCommentsUK/US Pronunciation
ADDRESS (Noun)Emphasis on “add” in US pronunciation.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
BIOPIC (Noun)Think “Bio-Pic” – and not “Bi-op-ic”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
CONTROVERSY (Noun)It is now generally accepted that there are two permissible pronunciations of this word: one putting the emphasis on “con”, the other on “trov”.LINK: Collins ¦ Cambridge Dictionary
DATA (Noun)As in “Date”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
DISPUTE (Noun/Verb)Some news presenters have taken to putting emphasis on “dis”. This is not correct.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
INVENTORY (Noun)Not to be pronounced like the word “Invent” with “ory” stuck on the end.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
NEWS (Noun)We don’t do “nooze” in this country – that’s the US again.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
NORTHERN IRELAND (Noun)One of the nations of the UK. Not a northern “Island” as some seem to think.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
PRECEDENT (Noun)Often incorrectly pronounced as “Pree-cedent”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
PROCESS (Noun)Difference in the pronunciation of the “pro” element in the UK and US.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
PROGRESS (Noun)Another UK/US difference.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
PROJECT (Noun)Don’t pronounce the “pro” element as you would if you were using the shortened form of the word “Professional”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
SCHEDULE (Noun/Verb)To the British and Irish public, I say: “IT’S NOT ‘SKEDULE’ – IT’S ‘SHEDULE'”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
STATUS (Noun)As in “State”.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary
Z (Noun)Don’t ever pronounce this as “Zee” in this country you utter fool.LINK: Cambridge Dictionary

Acknowledgements

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Posted by The Clean Feed Team

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