BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for June 3, 2012 - June 9, 2012

Your Letters

17:23 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

Dear Monitor, your sartorial advice (Paper Monitor, Thursday) is most interesting, prompting me to wonder if a Monitor of Acceptable Male Attire should join forces with your Monitor of Weights and Measures in an attempt to create a world renowned Monitor Panel of Expertise. Obviously I could never put myself forward for such an important honorary position, however I can humbly assure your readers that I am entirely comfortable (nowadays) in sandals sans socks, even achieving the nirvana of bare naked deck shoes on a recent holiday with minimum chaffing. I do have a pair of cream coloured (beige, perhaps) jeans which seem to fall within the Theological grey area between white and coloured, but since they have been consigned to a divan drawer for the last 12 months I feel vindicated. Let me know. xx
Richard Martin, Doncaster Fashion Week, UK

Can you please publish both metric and "monitorite" measurements in articles? We have our own Guardian of Weights and Measures who will surely echo my request. Phrases such as "Bunting equivalent in length to more than 2,000 Routemaster buses..." leave me wondering just how far that is in metres.
Ross, The Olympic Borough, London

So you're going to do an article on racing. Who do you send? Mr Leggett!
Basil Long, Nottingham

To anyone thinking of placing a bet according to the predictions of an elephant or sea lion I would just like to point out that there is no such thing as psychic ability and the animals are only giving an opinion based on their own subjective analysis.
Martin Comer, London UK

Wouldn't this headline be more accurate if it was "Copy and paste"?
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

While the mystery of Ukraine's definite article is cleared up, I'm still lost on the question of why Scotland, Italy and Germany gain a definitive article when their names are translated to Welsh (Yr Alban, Yr Eidal, Yr Almaen). They're far from alone; the UK, Egypt, Argentina, Finland, Netherlands, Maldives, Switzerland, Ivory Coast and, of course, Ukraine are all preceded by a definitive article in Welsh!
Griff, Caerdydd

To Rik (Thursday's letters): Ah, but this fashion designer could be using modern "business-speak"... in which case she could be referring to an expanding range of sizes.
Elasticated waist anyone?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

How to Say: Euro 2012 venues and names

13:20 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

It's that time again when European nations compete to be crowned winners of the Uefa Euro football championship.

In the midst of all the excitement, it's the commentator's unenviable task to confidently pronounce 22 foreign players' names in a fast-paced 90-minute broadcast.

Sixteen nations are competing, and with so many names in a squad and the fact that there are at least two competing languages in each match, how would you fare?

As always, the Pronunciation Unit's advice is anglicised so that it is pronounceable by broadcasters and intelligible to audiences. We use BBC Text Spelling to render pronunciations in writing (in all cases, stressed syllables are shown in upper case and -uh represents 'a' in ago/sofa - see link to full BBC Text Spelling guide below).

The pronunciation advice below generally lists the unit's recommendations first but also includes mention of other attested English pronunciations.

In general, the Pronunciation Unit's policy on place names is as follows: where an established anglicisation exists, that is what we recommend. In cases like Paris, where the English and French form of the geographical place name are spelt identically, broadcasters are advised to use the established anglicised form (eg, PARR-iss not parr-EE).

In cases where there is an established English name for a foreign place name, eg Munich or Moscow (pronounced as MYOO-nick and MOSS-koh respectively), rather than the German and Russian forms (München or Moskva), we advise broadcasters to adopt the English form of the name.

In the case of little-known place names, we recommend a pronunciation which is as close to the native pronunciation as possible, within the constraints of the English sound system.

The first match takes place in Warsaw - this is the English name for the Polish place name known as Warszawa. While the pronunciation of Warsaw in English is straightforward, WOR-saw (-or as in corn, -aw as in law), Warszawa is pronounced var-SHAV-uh (-v as in vet, -sh as in shop) in Polish.

The other Polish venues are Krakow, Wroclaw and Gdansk. Krakow is the English form of the name, pronounced KRACK-off (-f as in fit) in English, although KRACK-ow (-ow as in now) is also sometimes heard and KRACK-oh (-oh as in no) and KRACK-ov are also attested in British English pronunciation dictionaries. The Polish form is Kraków, pronounced closer to KRACK-oof (-oo as in boot, -f as in fit).

Wroclaw is pronounced VROTS-waff (-v as in vet, -ts as in bits, -w as in wit, -f as in fit) in Polish and English, although as with Krakow, there is more than one possible pronunciation in use more generally among English speakers, including VROTS-laav, VROTS-lav, VROTS-laaf, VROTS-laff and VROTS-waaf.

Gdansk (Gdańsk in Polish) is pronounced gdansk (-gd as in 'lagged') but because the 'gd' consonant cluster can be difficult for native English speakers to pronounce at the beginning of a word, it can be further anglicised as guh-DANSK. The pronunciations guh-DYNSK (-y as in sky) and DANSK are also listed as possible anglicisations in specialist English pronouncing dictionaries. In Polish, the acute accent over the 'ń' before the fricative 's'-sound means that the preceding vowel is nasalised in Polish and sounds closer to gdy(ng)sk (-y as in sky, -(ng) after a vowel indicates that the preceding vowel is nasalised).

Ukraine's venues, by contrast, are arguably less of a challenge for English speakers:

The established anglicisation of Kiev is KEE-eff (-ee as in meet, -e as in get), although KEE-ev (-v as in vet) is also used in English. Kharkiv, another venue in Ukraine, is pronounced KHAR-kif (-kh as in Sc. loch, -f as in fit).

Some of the players' names are perhaps more challenging, particularly as the orthography and transliterations do not always match the expected pronunciations.

When it comes to foreign names, we make every effort to reflect native pronunciations as closely as possible in our advice to broadcasters.

That said, the pronunciation of sports names is exceptional, given the international nature of the sporting world and especially the fact that sports professionals are often signed to high-profile foreign clubs, we find that clubs and professional sporting bodies tend to use a higher degree of anglicisation. These anglicised pronunciations are then adopted by fellow professionals and fans which, over time, cause certain pronunciations to become entrenched.

An example of this is the Brazilian player Ronaldinho. In this country, he is known as as ron-uhl-DEEN-yoh but in Brazilian Portuguese his name is pronounced closer to khon-ow-JEEN-yoo (-kh as in Sc. loch, -o as in not, -ow as in now, -j as in Jack, -y as in yes, -oo as in boot).

The pronunciation ron-uhl-DEEN-yoh is so well-established that using a pronunciation which more closely reflects the Brazilian Portuguese above would very likely cause confusion to listeners. Not only that, but it would probably be deemed an affectation by many English speakers, in much the same way that pronouncing Paris as parr-EE might raise a few eyebrows.

In some cases, sports personalities themselves pronounce their names in a non-native way. A case in point is Poland's Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny. In Polish, his name is pronounced VOY-chekh sh-CHE(NG)-sni (-oy as in boy, -ch as in church, -e as in get, -kh as in Sc. loch, -sh-ch as in pushchair, -(ng) indicates that the preceding vowel is nasalised). However, when we researched the club's pronunciation of his name, we were told that they pronounced it VOY-check SHEZH-ni (-sh as in shop, -zh as 's' in measure).

Understandably, some people feel very strongly about the fact that we should recommend the native-like pronunciation but what if there was evidence that a football player used a certain anglicisation of his/her own name and preferred this to an attempted native-like pronunciation that they did not identify themselves with?

Ahead of the Euro opening matches between Poland and Greece, and Russia and the Czech Republic, here is a selection of pronunciations for some of the players' names:

Vyacheslav Malafeev, pronounced vyatch-uh-SLAAF muh-luh-FYAY-yuhf (-vy as in view, -uh as 'a' in sofa, -fy as in few, -ay as in day, -y as in yes)

Pavel Pogrebnyak, pronounced PAV-uhl puh-gruhb-NYACK (-a as in hat, -uh as 'a' in sofa, -ny as in manual)

Jan Laštůvka, pronounced YAN LASH-toof-kuh (-y as in yes, -a as in hat, -sh as in shop, -oo as in boot)

Zdeněk Pospěch, pronounced ZDEN-yeck POSS-pyekh (-y as in yes, -o as in loss, -py as in pew, -kh as in Sc. loch)

Stelios Malezas, pronounced STEL-i-oss mal-ez-ASS (-e as in get, -al as in pal, -note final syllable stress)

Panagiotis Kone, pronounced pan-uh-YOT-iss kon-AY (-y as in yes, -ay as in day, -note final syllable stress)

As the tournament progresses, we will include further pronunciation guidance for players' names.

You can download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling.

Paper Monitor

12:19 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Euro 2012 coverage goes up a notch today ahead of this afternoon's kick-off.

And the British press is revelling in the potential for diplomatic rows, gossip about the England camp and some good old fashioned Get Behind Our Boys jingoism.

The Sun splashes on British ministers' boycott of the tournament.

Inside are pictures of Rio Ferdinand in his "red flowery shorts" beside the pool in Cyprus. A chance for the paper to rake over the alleged John Terry-Rio fallout and reinforce a sense that England are entering the tournament with an under strength squad. A nice bit of stirring.

The Daily Star says all is not lost. "Who Are We? No fans, No royals, No ministers and Crocked players. But we do have sexiest wag."

The female in question was Melanie Slade, fiancée of Theo Walcott, who the paper reported had been named as the sexiest WAG ever.

Optimism may be lacking about England's performance on the pitch. But the marketing experts still seem to be earning their salaries. Many of the papers give over space to the campaign by one gambling firm, which has erected a 30m high statue of Roy Hodgson on the White Cliffs of Dover.

Paper Monitor finds the former West Brom boss's beautific visage strangely hypnotic. A spokesman for the gambling firm tells the Star: "Since Christ the Redeemer was put in Rio de Janeiro in 1931 Brazil has gone on to become the world's leading footballing nation. We're hoping it can rub off on us."

The piece sits under the nicely restrained headline "Win Roy...Or Be Crucified."

Metro gets all economic on our posteriors by bringing in a bona fide professor to talk about which team would win Euro 2012 if it was played according to debt, GDP and unemployment stats. In a nutshell, England and France would not even get out of the group, and Holland would beat Denmark in the final.

The Times has sent a "fan in a van" to keep track of Our Boys. His account of the England squad's visit to the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in Cracow justified the fuel bill alone.

"The players appeared terrified as they lined up beneath the great works of art and posed for photographs with the Polish dignitaries," David Brown, the erudite van driver wrote.

"John Terry appeared to study a portrait of a naked woman on a horse, and Wayne Rooney looked around nervously as he was approached by a gaggle of attractive blondes."

Ah, this one's going to run and run. Well until England's early exit anyway. Then someone's going to have to take that statue down.

10 things we didn't know last week

10:25 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

mick jagger and rihanna

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Finches' personalities are denoted by their head colour.
More details

2. Cockroaches escape danger by diving off a ledge and performing a
pendulum-like flip.
More details (Future of Tech)

3. Sixteen per cent of items sold at Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's are priced at either £1 or £2.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

4. The Great Wall of China is longer than previously thought.
More details

5. The weather is discussed 282 times a second in the UK.
More details (Belfast Telegraph)

6. Nick Clegg wrote 120 pages of a novel, which took its inspiration from Gabriel García Márquez.
More details (The Guardian)

7. Rihanna has sold more UK singles than the Rolling Stones.
More details (The Times)

8. Only two countries retain the definite article in English - The Bahamas and The Gambia.
More details

9. In Brazil, Ronaldinho is pronounced khon-ow-JEEN-yoo.
More details

10. You can make a piano out of bananas.
More details

Seen a thing? Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

17:24 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012

Re: Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre remains found. So it hasn't been un-found then?
Mike, Wiltshire

A fashion designer discovers she can grow her own clothes - and they're biodegradable, too! Let's hope no-one tells her about cotton. Or linen. Or wool. Or...
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

As regards the weather, Philip Eden suggests: "The UK has a temperate climate with variable weather but an absence of extremes." On the contrary, because of it's position, the UK is actually submitted to a plethora (lovely word) of extremes: blizzards and drifts; storms and gales; heat and drought; flood and downpours. It's the variety that gives us something to talk about. My sister-in-law is from the Seychelles and they don't talk about the weather because it is invariably "hot".
Basil Long, Nottingham

Vicky (Wednesday's letters), there's nothing wrong with the headline, "Dormice climb trees using their whiskers". They use their whiskers AND their hands and feet. Had the headline included the word "only", your complaint may have been justified.
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

On the letters page I was credited as living in South East London. I would be most grateful if you could correct this damaging inaccuracy otherwise I will be forced to contact that nice Mr, sorry Lord, Leveson. Thank you.
Vicky S, East London

Carl Evans (Wednesday's letters), A cwitticism?
Arlene, Wales

Paper Monitor

13:51 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

You don't have to be a star to get in the papers these days (although just the sight of Lady Gaga in *non-outrageous-dress-shocker* stirs the Daily Star on p13) - being a planet performing a once-in-a-lifetime trick will do.

"Stargazers' Venus sky track" quips the Daily Mirror of Venus's trip across the sun (next transit: 2117); "Sun spot", intones the, er, Sun, going on to applaud this "amazing solar spectacle" - but only after it has poked fun at oddballs looking for love two pages before, in a piece sensitively titled "Young Freak and Single".

Priorities, people!

If women are from Venus, then these unfortunate men are from, if not Mars, then at least another planet - this particular piece, featuring profile snaps from US dating site OK Cupid, shows one man donning Buzz Lightyear garb, another gentleman posing in a bin liner ("I like to drink pickle juice!!!"), and a man peeping out from a stripey towel ("I spend a lot of time thinking about will I be single all my life", his caption laments).

What's a man to do? Interesting style choices are nothing new - the Daily Telegraph features a painted portrait from 1792 of a male transvestite ("Britain's first celebrated cross-dresser" the Chevalier d'Eon) in women's clothing, the first such work acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

But perhaps "the losers in love" might benefit from some more tailored (and conventional) sartorial advice - like that dispensed today in a timely Daily Mirror double-page spread billed as "The what not to wear guide for badly-dressed boys!".

Style offences listed include: Coloured or white jeans ("it's all very well men trying to express personality through the medium of colour, but this should never apply to their trousers"), short jorts (short jean cut-offs) and mandels (aka socks with sandals - the British male's predilection for which underlines our disparity from our Continental cousins, apparently, and is, according to Siobhan McNally, "perhaps the best argument yet for us not joining the European currency").

A picture gallery of celebs donning these offensive trends is supplied, thoughtfully - we do like a bit of stargazing, after all.

Caption Competition

13:11 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012


It's the Caption Competition.

This week's caption competition is now closed.

There is still no prize, except the traditional small quantity of kudos. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].


This week it's a pair of shoes designed to mark the start of the Euro 2012 competition.

6. Candace9839 wrote:
Ronaldo was about to get baby a new pair of Choos.

5. penny-farthing wrote:
The Golden Boot award is going to be a little different this year.

4. SkarloeyLine wrote:
When the truth about the England captain's hamstring injury was exposed, the ensuing scandal became known as Terry-gait.

3. Pendragon wrote:
In Germany, they're known as Das Boot

2. Lynn wrote:
The grand unveiling of Rio Ferdinand's new boots reveals just why he wasn't selected

1. Kudosless wrote:
No Ashley. Just No.

Your Letters

15:43 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Re: My published letter yesterday. Is there a word for when a witticism based on a news headline which is subsequently changed and then makes no sense, resulting in an almost total loss of self-esteem ?
Carl Evans, Crepy, France

You do know that alex/buzz/henrietta/jayjay from sidcup/london/england are all my mum sending things in under different alias then bragging to us about it at the dinner table. Its getting annoying especially as she uses my name and nicknames!
The real Alex, Sidcup/London

Please stop printing misinformation because the ignorant are easily disappointed. "Dormice climb trees using their whiskers." No they don't. They climb trees using their dear little hands and feet, the whiskers help them to climb trees.
Vicky, South East London

Surely the headline should be "Skeletons that are definitely not vampires" Found in Bulgaria. The first paragraphs says that the rods through the chests are to prevent them turing into vampires. Or did they not work?
MCK, Stevenage

It with deep sadness that I must report the demise of the 'Ten Things' count-up. Lost is that frisson of aspiration, counting and hoping that the picture has 9 or 11 items. No more expectation of that GOTCHA! moment that never comes. Oh sad day! I'll get my calculator.
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

Paper Monitor

12:42 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
One of the stranger quirks of the Jubilee weekend was the omnipresence of a man who must struggle when filling in the hotel check-in page.

Yes, is everywhere.

Zelig-like he seemed to pop up in pictures with just about everyone in the celebrity tribe.

There he was with Prince William, Robbie Williams and a rather bewildered looking Paul McCartney.

Metro put him on page three with his arm around the Prince. "Arm draped around his namesake, the Duke of Cambridge relaxes backstage after the diamond jubilee concert," the paper gushed next to a photo of the pair looking like David and Goliath. "I just realized I'm the shorter "", the hip hop star tweeted.

It was all too much for the Daily Mail. "Just who is" it cried.
The writer was not sympathetic. Why is an American rapper entertaining the Queen, he demanded.

The final straw appears to have been him getting in a shot with the Queen. "Pop royalty?" the caption asked.

"It is not just that the oddly named musician is American and confesses he needs sophisticated studio technology to stop him sounding like a strangulated cat." Apparently his only claim to fame was appearing on a "much-derided" TV talent show. And then there was his "perplexing" appearance carrying the Olympic Torch in Taunton.

Adopting its best scouse accent, Paper Monitor suggests everyone calms down. Have a long lie down. Oh...erm, yes, some of us have been doing exactly that for the last four days.

Your Letters

14:08 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Re: the news headline "Venus to put on Sun spectacular."
Calm down tennis-lovers. She hasn't signed up for Page Three after all.
Carl Evans, Crepy, France

Jayjay (Monday's letters), while a drink can, in sooth, soothe many ills, I believe you'll find David was right and the original article was indeed missing that all-important 'e'. And on that note, I'll get my frock coat.
Ali, London

Adrian, (Monday's letters), kind of you to say so, but as we all know, there isn't a dislike button.
Alex, London

Never mind social media, Alex (Friday's letters), how is someone's bladder infection "headline" news?
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

12:50 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

First it was the flotilla, now it's the Palace party.

As Paper Monitor peruses today's papers, one thing is certain - anyone looking for any news other than the Queen's Jubilee will have to be patient.

Take the Daily Mail for starters, under the headline "Diamond Dazzler" it dedicates its first 16 pages to "spectacular pictures and reports".

Or the Daily Mirror, which can't tear itself away from what it calls the "Jubilee Concert drama" until page 13.

The verdict on the party is almost unanimous - the concert was a success.

As the Times' Will Hodgkinson puts it: "It may have been unashamedly populist, and a touch naff, but the Diamond Jubilee Concert was a flag-waving triumph".

But that doesn't stop plenty of papers from putting the attendees through their paces.

Separating the "diamonds from the duds", the Daily Mirror's music critic Gavin Martin awards five crowns to Grace Jones and her "extraordinary hula-hooping" and Kylie Minogue as "thigh slapping Pearly Queen". Bottom of the pack, with only two crowns, however, is given to an "underwhelming" Cheryl Cole and "lacklustre" Gary Barlow.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph reports that compere Lenny Henry was given the thumbs-down on Twitter for his comments "all the black people in the house say yeah", and points out Grace Jones seemed to forget why she was attending when she bellowed: "We love you - happy birthday, our Queen".

Another person that didn't fare too well, according to the paper, was It says Phillip Schofield told him off for failing to address her properly as Your Majesty.

However one man that gets more praise than normal in many quarters is Prince Charles. The Times says the Prince of Wales touched the nation with his "heartfelt" tribute to the Queen, while his call to wish his absent father well got one of the biggest cheers of the night.

But for the Telegraph, it was the Queen herself who deserved the highest praise for attending despite the Duke's illness.

"On a night of colour and noise, the Queen's resolve stands out," it says.

Paper Monitor advises anyone who is after any other story than the Jubilee to stay resolved too. The papers should be back to normal by Thursday.

Your Letters

16:12 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2012

Au contraire, David, Friday's letters, I think you will find that many drinks can soothe many ills. (Check your local on a Saturday night). I'll get my pint...
Jayjay, England

To Alex, Friday's letters. Like.
Adrian Challinor

NHS staff's ackowledgement of a 60 pence Kit-Kat was mean as their slogan is 'Have a break have a Kit-Kat'. They obviously got no break so the insult should have also included a Mars Bar as they claim 'It helps you work rest and play'. Marathon time now, chocolate variety that is not the physical type...
Tim McMahon, Martos, Spain

I saw the headline "Queen starts festivities at Derby" and decided to join the throngs of well-wishers. Well, I never saw her, so she must have been in a different part of Derbyshire.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paper Monitor

12:21 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a day where one half expects to read: In other news, the continent of Africa has disappeared, Elvis has been found living in New Zealand and nuclear war has been declared by the US.

Yes, on Jubilee+2 there isn't much in the papers apart from the Queen's flotilla. And rarely has there been such consensus amongst hacks. To paraphrase - such a jolly day that even the rain couldn't stop the plucky Brits eating pork pies and holding umbrellas. "Drip Drip Hooray" as the Sun splash - erm, sorry - has it.

Or as Andrew Billen puts it in the Times: "You had to be by the Thames to get the full soaked-to-the-skin, can't-see-a-thing frustration of the pageant as well as its but-I-wouldn't-have-missed-it for-world payoff."

It takes an eagle eye to find any chinks in the newspapers' consensus. But look carefully and there were a couple of debates raging. First, was Kate's red dress a) an act of treachery? or b) modest and respectful?

Arguing the case for the guillotine was Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail who called the Sarah Burton design "as striking as it was inappropriate." The fact that Kim Kardashian and Tulisa Contostavlos had previously worn sleeveless versions should have warned her off, she tutted. This was the Queen's day and yet "the Duchess of Cambridge opted for a scarlet dress so bold and bright it just screamed: 'Look at me!'"

Paper Monitor - which doesn't always know its Burton from its Burton's if you follow - then read Times fashion editor Laura Craik describe Kate's dress as "traditional rather than triumphant" and "a modest choice that tactfully allowed the Queen to shine." All very confusing.

And what of the other disagreement bubbling beneath the newsprint? Well, just how happy was the Queen? In the Sun she "beams with delight". The Mail noted her "beaming smile". And the Daily Telegraph said she "smiled on through the cold and wet". Michael White in the Guardian described her as "severe mistress of the rare but radiant smile".

Meanwhile Billen, the Times' TV critic, contrasted the live commentary with the pictures that viewers saw. "Frequently they told us that the Queen was 'thoroughly engaged' and enjoying every moment. Frequently we cut to her looking glum and sniffing."

It was left to Danny Baker, whose tweet the Times repeated, to pour - more - cold water on proceedings. "The BBC coverage of this river fiasco has been simply ridiculous. The Queen looks like she knows it too."

Paper Monitor would like to make clear that it has no idea what the Queen was thinking.

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