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How to say: Bruschetta

15:05 UK time, Monday, 16 October 2006

A weekly guide to words and names in the news from Catherine Sangster of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

"There's considerable coverage today of Good Food magazine's survey into the most commonly mispronounced foreign items on restaurant menus. (See here, for instance.) The focus was firmly on European languages, notably Italian (bruschetta, correctly pronounced "bruu-SKET-uh", not "bruu-SHET-uh"), Spanish (chorizo, pronounced "chorr-EE-thoh") and French (Pouilly Fumé, pronounced "poo-yi FOO-may").

It's interesting that the coverage focuses so much on the idea of diners humiliating themselves in front of "wincing waiters" - personally, I doubt that waiters or other expert speakers ever mind being asked politely how something is pronounced if it's in an unfamiliar language, and they might even appreciate the curious diner's linguistic interest.

I've had several such conversations myself in Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants - well, you can't expect a pronunciation professional to be entirely happy ordering by numbers, can you? I certainly agree with Good Food's editor that uncertainty about pronunciations shouldn't put you off trying something delicious.

Incidentally, Lena Olausson and I have been working for months now on editing the Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation, which is finally being published next week. It includes pronunciations for people's names, place names, animals and plants, drugs and diseases, musical instruments, mythological characters and - we are pleased to say - all the tricky food and drink names mentioned in the Good Food survey."

(For a guide to our phonetic pronunciations, click here.)

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