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How to say: Francis Poulenc

15:52 UK time, Monday, 13 November 2006

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

"The pronunciation unit often receives complaints about perceived mispronunciations of two French composers' names - Francis Poulenc and Paul Dukas - when they haven't been mispronounced at all. Poulenc is pronounced poo-LA(NG)K, the -a(ng) sound as in French "vin". This is the pronunciation listed in all our published sources (French and English), and there is no justification for the poo-LAA(NG)K (-aa(ng) as in French "blanc") pronunciation claimed to be correct in the many complaints

The other name that causes much frustration among our Radio 3 listeners, Dukas, is in fact pronounced due-KASS, and not due-KAA. This pronunciation was passed on to the pronunciation unit in 1955 by a friend of the Dukas family, who assured us that this was the composer's own pronunciation."

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

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