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How to Say: Olympic terms

10:38 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Christine Haunz of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

With the Olympics in full swing, and the British team winning medals in little-known disciplines and in unfamiliar locations, here's how to pronounce some of these places and events. Syllables given in capital letters should be stressed.

The sailing events take place in Qingdao, pronounced CHING DOW (-ch as in church; -ow as in now). Tsingtao (also the name of a popular brand of beer), is a more old-fashioned romanised spelling, but pronounced in the same way.

A number of British successes took place in Qingdao - a gold medal was won for Yngling racing; an Yngling being a keelboat designed by a Norwegian designer, and named after the Norwegian word for "young man". The English pronunciation is ING-ling (-ng as in sing).

A sport with Japanese roots is Keirin, a cycle sprinting event won by Britain's Chris Hoy at the Laoshan (LOW SHAN, -ow as in now) velodrome. The Japanese pronunciation of this discipline is close to kay-RIN (-ay as in day); however, the established anglicisation used by cyclists is KEER-in (-eer as in deer).

Another gold medal for Britain was won at the Bird's Nest, or Niaochao (NYOW CHOW, -ny as in manual; -ow as in now; -ch as in church), by Christine Ohuruogu - the first British female athlete to win Olympic gold over 400m. As her former linguistics lecturer confirms, her name is pronounced oh-hoo-ROO-goo (-oh as in no).

The Bird's Nest was also the scene of drama involving the Chinese 110m hurdler Liu Xiang, who four years ago had won China's first men's track and field gold, but had to pull out of this year's event due to injury. His name is pronounced LYOH shi-AANG (-ly as in million; -oh as in no; -sh as in ship).

For further pronunciation advice on Chinese names, including Beijing, click here.

To download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling, click here.

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