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Words words words

Tim Bailey | 09:41 UK time, Monday, 10 July 2006

I approach this subject with a fair degree of trepidation. But a number of people have asked about the relationship between correct English grammar and BBC radio news scripts; in other words how important is correct usage of language for a news broadcaster?

The first thing to acknowledge is that for a section of the radio audience (primarily listeners to Radio Three and Radio Four, but not exclusively) the dictionary use of words is of vital importance; these listeners get very annoyed at errors or at sloppiness and they write in making their views know with what is known as great vigour. It is a foolish and arrogant broadcaster who ignores these people and their views. I most certainly don't.

Of course, most broadcasters are not foolish and they make every effort to use words correctly and to acknowledge the basic rules of grammar. And my own experience is that correspondents are keen to be told they have made a mistake - and equally keen not to repeat it. I have not come across a correspondent saying this sort of stuff is not worthy of attention.

This can be taken to extremes. I remember vividly a war correspondent filing on a phone from the battlefront with the sound of bullets and shells exploding all around him. He filed and the only response from the Radio Four desk was a producer shouting back through the sounds of war: "You have misused the word 'ironically'; you mean 'coincidentally'."

All radio broadcasters are aware that the listener usually gets only one chance to hear what they are saying; it must be clear, concise and easily understandable; there is usually not a second chance. And rules of grammar are, for the most part, agreed to ensure clarity, concision and comprehension. So there is no problem. All broadcasters should obey all the rules.

Up to a point. Radio news broadcasts are not compiled like that. They quite often deliberately break the rules. And the reason why they do so is to enhance clarity, concision and comprehension. And I think they are right. Radio news broadcasts are the illegitimate child of demotic speech and formal prose. The end - in this case informing the listeners - justifies the means: bending, if not breaking, the rules.

And of course the language changes all the time. This is a whole issue in itself. When does a word or phrase enter the mainstream; when does it become acceptable? Decisions on individual words are taken all the time. And I know a lot of people do not like the decisions. I know because they write in to tell me. The people who accept the changes, of course, don't.

So the debate goes on. As it should, and we should all take part.

Tim Bailey is editor of the Radio 4 Six O'clock News

You can send us your thoughts or queries about the language used in any of our news programmes by leaving a comment below or using the form on the right hand side of the page.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 11:47 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Richard Baker wrote:

"I know because they write into tell me." This should be:
"I know because they write in to tell me". The 'in' clearly belongs with 'write', and the 'to' is part of the infinitive of purpose (why they write in), so they cannot be combined. OK - it was just a typo, but you set yourself up for it.

  • 2.
  • At 12:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Host wrote:

Ahem, yes. Well spotted, is now fixed.

  • 3.
  • At 12:20 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I've notices that in may BBC broadcasts, prepositions normally included in common American speech are omitted. Is this characteristic of normal British usage or just carelessness?

  • 4.
  • At 01:04 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Kathryn wrote:

I'd happily let them get away with murder, if only they'd stop saying 'terror' when they mean 'terrorism'.

Some clarification on emotive language will be nice. Will we be referring to those who commit acts of terrorism who are convicted as 'terrorists', rather than 'terror suspects' or any of the other terms that seem to be used?

  • 6.
  • At 01:38 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Simon Hugo wrote:

You say that the dictionary use of words is of vital importance primarily to listeners of Radio 3 and Radio 4. But surely these are just the people who acknowledge that importance? It's important for everyone that words are used correctly. Not for the sake of sticklers and grammarians, but for the sake of basic comprehension. It's a short step from using 'infer' and 'imply' synonymously, and mixing up 'enormous' and 'enormity', to having the same words to denote astronomers and astrologers and, eventually, cats and dogs and war and peace.
I'm all for dialectical variation and lingusitic diversity, but it's much easier for nation to speak peace unto nation if as many people as possible are spared from ambiguity and confusion.

  • 7.
  • At 02:43 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Tony Squire wrote:

The correct use of English is not just pedantry, it's vital to reduce mis-understandings. The increasing use of "Americanisms" by all media types should be stopped, as they often mislead or even, in some cases, contradict normal English useage. (e.g it took years for "ordinary" people to understand the American useage of "billion" instead of the English "milliard". The BBC types just assumed that we understood them).
Also, Please Order (on pain of Pain) all newsreaders to stop useing tabloid terms like "... launched a probe ..." when they probably mean "... started an enquiry..." or "looked in to", and "half of one percent" instead of "half a percent". These terms are clumsy, sensationalist and show lack of courtsey to the story and to the listener.

  • 8.
  • At 02:53 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Mark: Give an example?

http://esl.about.com/library/weekly/aa110698.htm mentions 3 examples (scroll down)

  • 9.
  • At 03:47 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

Mark, I think it would certainly help if you cited some actual examples. I find the opposite to be true in most cases with Americans, for instance, using "I bought a pair shoes," omitting 'of'. 'Pair of shoes' is the standard British usage.

What struck me while reading Tim Bailey's blog was how many times he used the word 'And' to begin a sentence. This, and using 'But' to begin sentences has become very trendy at the BBC but in my opinion it should not be overused.

My pet hate is the wrong usage of the past tense of the verb 'to lead'. It is led, not lead. Lead, pronounced led, is a heavy metal. It is a common mistake with lesser mortals but seeing this mistake made by BBC journalists (which I have) makes me cringe.

In my opinion, the BBC is an important British institution, not just a media company, and I believe it has responsibilities to uphold the correct usage of the (British) English language.

  • 10.
  • At 04:18 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • S Yogendra wrote:

Growing up in India, I was one of many who held BBC English as the standard for the British style of English language and usage that was high quality, grammatically correct and superbly articulated.

Much as I see the need to incorporate British diversity (I am one of those who are held up as examples of 'diversity') into accents of newsreaders and reporters, I do not think it is a licence to use language incorrectly. Yes, language changes, but the import of the message can entirely change through a misused word or a malapropism.

Therefore I think correct grammar is very important.

And as for most broadcasters not being foolish, I think that word is not what you should have used. Perhaps 'incompetent', 'untrained in grammar' , 'careless about usage' etc could suit better but then again probably none of those satisfactorily expresses what you meant to say.

  • 11.
  • At 04:22 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • J.P.Ward wrote:

I've mentioned one of my pet grouses before on the BBC website: sentences like ".. for you and I". For I? Why not just " ... for you and me"? That's not difficult to understand, is it? I have not even blinked at split infinitives these last 50 years, since I hear then several times an hour whenever I listen to BBC radio or view TV.

  • 12.
  • At 04:24 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Linda Erith wrote:

I listen to the radio a lot; mainly Radio 4, and I think that probably punctuation is used less now so the meaning is not always clear to the listener.The newsreaders often put the stress in the wrong place in a sentence so you have to replay it in your head to make sense of it. When I was at school we had to read "with expression" if we were reading aloud in class. I feel this is often missing now from broadcasting.

  • 13.
  • At 04:51 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Paul Winship wrote:

Tell me when the word "before"
was replaced by the phrase "ahead of"?

  • 14.
  • At 04:58 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Paul Miller wrote:

I agree very strongly with the writer of comment 5. It annoys me that BBC values come in to play when reporting certain groups. A bomb that is detonated and kills innocents can be caused by "terrorists", "extremists", "militants" and/or "illegal combatants" depending on who is responsible for it. The BBC decides which descriptor based upon it's own values therefore is flavouring the communication of the news.

I appreciate that language is very difficult to get right all the time and accept that mistakes will be made especially on occasions such as when a presenter goes off script to convey breaking news. However, it is the language decisions made accordingly to the BBC's left wing political beliefs that I can not forgive.

  • 15.
  • At 05:06 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • John R wrote:

Grammar pedantry - what fun. Can we talk about pronunciation next?

  • 16.
  • At 05:08 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Here’s a controversial question – when did the BBC decide that “controversy” should be pronounced “contro-versy” and not “controv-ersy” (as per every dictionary I’ve ever seen)… yes its pedantic I know…

  • 17.
  • At 05:09 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Joan Bee wrote:

I think trying to eradicate ambiguity is the main thing, though it's difficult to keep to "correct" grammar and vocabulary sometimes when we speak off-the-cuff, as newsreaders and interviewees do all the time.
It is infuriating, though, to hear things like "The men went into the bank and robbed a million pounds" when they actually STOLE the money, though they robbed the bank.
I heard recently: "Built in 1914, Quentin Tarrentino has described it as his favourite cinema in the world," - he's older than I thought, then. Also, "There are a lot of activities for people with disabilities such as archery and climbing." No - I think those are the activities, not the disabilities.
My husband's a teacher who constantly bemoans the wretchedness of his pupils' grammar and vocabulary: this lack of understanding means that they often don't spot the niceties of quite simple exam questions and do the wrong thing. An Italian friend is on a course learning to teach English to foreigners: she's the only non-native speaker, and the only student on the course who's been taught English grammar. Go on, BBC - give us a lead. You know you can.

  • 18.
  • At 05:10 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • David Gillingham wrote:

Two things more than any others:
One - The creeping use of haitch instead of aitch, especially among younger and strangely enough strangely enough female presenters
Two - Schedule pronounced with the "sch" as in "school" - nasty, very nasty!

  • 19.
  • At 05:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Richard Coleman wrote:

In recent years the BBC has adopted a policy of referrng to all legal entities as "firms". A "firm" is a partnership - a collection of individuals acting together. In contrast, the vast majority of legal entities operating in business are "companies". If a single generic word is to be used to describe all legal entities in the BBC news, why has "firm" been chosen when "company" would accurately describe the majority of businesses. Alternatively, if you need a generic word then "business" is more accurate.

  • 20.
  • At 05:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Prue Magee wrote:

My real objection is to the misuse of adjectives instead of adverbs. On sunday during the men's finale a commentator said "He moves quick." and the in the next sentance said. "His moves beautifully". I was so pleased to hear that he did know what an adverb was but would have been more delighted if he had used an adverb in the first sentance. The adoption of 'good' instead of 'well' is a sad loss to the breadth of our language. Please encourage your commentators to know and use adverbs correctly. Thank you.

  • 21.
  • At 05:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ian Green wrote:

Why has the word "fewer" seemingly disappeared from the BBC? Just watch out for how frequently the word "less" is used in its place, like "this website is receiving less complaints than it used to". You will be shocked.
Well, that's my rant finished.

  • 22.
  • At 05:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • John Gibbs wrote:

I think the use of correct english and grammar is important, so many people now communicate in short hand due to email text and msn that language skills are sliding. But also it amuse me when the news teams have pet words of the month, such as unprecidented and use it at almost every possible situation they can. Didn't anyone teach them that using different words in nearby sentences, when similar meaning words are required makes for easier reading and listening. Keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it creative.

  • 23.
  • At 05:20 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Simon Leach wrote:

Personally I hate the word "blog" !

  • 24.
  • At 05:21 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Oliver Wilkinson wrote:

RE: Words words words. I think the BBC should make the effort to use fewer Americanisms.

  • 25.
  • At 05:21 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • John Charman wrote:

Usage is a difficult area I agree but the sloppy use of less instaed of fewer is truly irritating. They are different words for different things, and journalists who presumably would not say 'I ain't not got none' seem happy to say 'less policemen on the beat'.
Another pet hate is ridiculous false stress on prepositions and other words that are not the important part of a sentence, rendering the meaning impenetrable. This is common place in weather forcasting as in 'there WILL be showers' I always feel as though they believe I had disputed this possibility. Speaking as one human being to another instead of in trite journalese cadences would be a great relief to all.

  • 26.
  • At 05:24 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Jim Hill wrote:

"they write in making their views know with what is known as great vigour".

They make their views "known". It's also a rather ugly sentence, but I'll let that one pass :)

Though you are setting yourself up a bit here.

To answer the question regarding American v British use of prepositions, I find that "of" is overused in the US. There is no requirement in either British or American English for an "of" after words such as "all", "outside" and "inside". Perhaps this is what the reader is noticing? In contrast the Americans don't use the word "that" as often as the British, and it is in fact quite easy to drop without losing meaning.

I have also found some rather dodgey English used on the BBC web site. Who does your proofing?

  • 27.
  • At 05:38 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Barrie Redfern wrote:

The BBC's national newsreaders are generally very good - and so they should BE. Sometimes though, it's not what you say but how you say it that's imporTANT. Why do so many of television's senior REE-porters and correspondents resort to a "sing-song" way of delivering their LINES - REEgardless of their conTENT. This is usually accompanied by the emphasising of the last word or syllable in every SENTENCE. It does not carry any meaning and is extremely irriTATING. I think they need to do more ree-SEARCH. If they did, it would be miles, sorry, ki LOMM iters.

Intelligibility of a sentence can be greatly increased using correct stress and INTONATION - as well as PRONUNCIATION. And do they really understand what they're actually SAYING? Do they talk to friends and family like THAT? Point MADE?

Barrie RedFERN, AmsterDAM.

  • 28.
  • At 05:49 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

I think the point about "clarity, concision and comprehension" is very valid: comprehension ought to be the primary consideration.
This appears to have been forgotten in the deliberate use of phrases alien to everyday English speech in some news programmes (e.g. "at the top of the hour" on BBC News 24, which I assume is used in a bid to sound more American).

  • 29.
  • At 06:43 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Bill P wrote:

I find it infuriating that the BBC (and the British press) insist on treating collective nouns as if they were plural. It is just plain wrong to say "the government are..." because the government is a single institution and so it "is" doing something (or nothing !). Similarly, correspondents should remember that "none" is a contraction of "not one", so when using this word it should be considered singular, as in "none of these grammatical errors is too serious by itself, but collectively they are a serious problem"

  • 30.
  • At 07:24 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Simon Hugo wrote:

Re: comment 16 by Mike. Yes, it is very annoying when people say "con-tro-ver-sy" in the style of The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, but it's not half as annoying as when they say "an hotel" or "an historic". Whoever in the BBC thinks this is correct, natural sounding or in the least bit desirable?
When I was younger, I thought there was such a thing as the BBC Pronunciation Unit, which pronounced (no pun intended) on this sort of thing. A search on the website turns up no such thing, however. Does anyone know if it ever existed and, if so, what became of it?

  • 31.
  • At 08:37 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Aidan wrote:

I think the advent of 24 hour news has changed things a great deal. Far more now, people are doing unrehearsed pieces to camera rather than reading from prepared scripts. They are thus far more prone, as we all are, to making slips of the tongue. If the mistakes appear online or in another written form then that is more worrying.

There is no such thing as "correct" grammar, since grammar is fluid and changing, as you rightly say.
We all have out own pet peeves, but I think the BBC rarely gets things totally wrong in this regard.
I wonder if schoolteachers still tell their pupils that "You should never start a sentence with 'And' or 'But'".
I'm a big fan of run-on sentences such as those you've used. But I'm pretty sure many people are not.

  • 33.
  • At 08:43 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Aidan wrote:

Mark.

Which expressions are you referring to? Often American verbs drop the prepositions used in British English.

e.g. Why don't you write me?
The prisoner was released Thursday.

  • 34.
  • At 08:48 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Barry wrote:

For anyone after intelligent and accurate reporting with excellent use of language I recommend the New York Times online (www.nytimes.com). The reporting here is outstanding and I often go there to read UK and world news.

Articles are full to the brim with detail and you get a real sense of the story rather than the all-too-often basic overview given by the BBC and other UK news outlets. I was also surprised at just how impartial and objective the reporting is.

Look at the average BBC web story: it is only ever one page long, the paragraphs are one sentence in length, and the language tabloid (e.g. any minor problem is a 'crisis', every disagreement a 'row', and trivial reports are justified with the inevitable 'questions/concerns were raised'. Raised by whom? They never say).

Go on, try it out. I bet you'll be surprised.

  • 35.
  • At 09:15 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • JvdB wrote:

Tim,

I'm sure you're not a foolish and arrogant broadcaster, but the grammatical error in your paragraph "they write in making their views know with what is known as great vigour" seems to be very unfortunate. An ironic mistake or merely coincidence? I'm sure it's the former.

JvdB.

  • 36.
  • At 09:16 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • nickd wrote:

I'm one of those horrible old pedants who insist on the difference between "fewer" and "less" , and am very biased when it comes to this subject.

I don't live in the UK and am out of touch with the current vernacular, but during my occasional stays in Britain I often have difficulty following both the newspapers and the television news: incoherent sentences due to the use of wrong or inappropriate words; non-sequiturs; failure of reference...the list is endless. But all questions of grammar and the appropriate or correct use of words aside, I find that the language used has become inelegant and turgid, and totally lacking in spark or richness. (I hope you enjoy pulling apart those convoluted sentences as much as I enjoyed writing them).

Anyway, all that aside, we insist that our children learn good English (i.e. English with no mistakes, no incorrect use of words, no grammar errors etc). We also try to enlarge their vocabularies. unfortunately, the BBC and the majority of the British press are no longer references.

I understand the arguments that language changes, but there's a difference between a language changing to adapt to new things and so becoming richer, and it changing due to dumbing down and illiteracy and so being diminished. I'm afraid I see the latter not the former.

nickd

  • 37.
  • At 10:01 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • David wrote:

One failure of pronunciation that astounds me is 'sikth' in place of sixth. Once you are sensitised to this error, you will realise that it runs rampant across all TV and radio broadcasting.

Another distinction that seems to have disappeared is that between the words 'that' and 'which'. As I understand it, 'that' qualifies the previous noun, adding a defining description, whereas 'which' adds incidental information, which if discarded would not fundamentally alter the subject of the conversation.

To illustrate:

There was only one car. The car, which was red..

There were many cars. The car that was blue ..

  • 38.
  • At 11:03 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Thomas Tengsted wrote:

I wish the BBC would stop using the term "Train Station".

Fair enough if it’s an American station that’s the subject, but we British use the term Railway Station.

  • 39.
  • At 09:10 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Darren Stephens wrote:

It's interesting to see peoples' own grammar prejudices and peeves coming to the fore here, many of which I share, incidentally.

Having said that, I found the penultimate paragraph of Tim Bailey's the most interesting and, to some extent, encouraging: if you are going to bend the rules or even break them, you should first think carefully about why you are doing it. I do, however, notice an increasing 'tabloidisation' of the news media, with the excuse commonly given that, somehow, this is what the audience wants. Oddly, I'm reminded of the line from 'Going Underground' by the Jam:

"The public wants what the public gets."

  • 40.
  • At 11:24 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

In the matter of omission of prepositions, one example I've noticed on more than one occasion is failure to use a preposition such as "to" afer the verb to go. It reminded me each time of the French utilization of the verb "aller" as in allez chez lui. But as I understand that verb, it implicitly includes the preposition in the verb itself and as I understand the English verb "to go" it does not.

  • 41.
  • At 11:42 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Danie Jones wrote:

Terry Wogan had a campaign on his breakfast show some 25 years ago to clear up the controversy over the pronunciation of controversy.

Personally I don't think we'll ever see a decent journalist again. After all, grammar and languages are no longer taught in schools as they were. And even though I was taught grammar in primary school, by the time I arrived at University to read Classics in 1988, all I ever knew about it had been wiped from my brain by subsequent learning. This was a distinct disadvantage when trying to get my head around the linguistics side of my degree and I believe it is something that should be addressed more in English Language lessons (if such things still exist).

  • 42.
  • At 12:32 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

BBC presenters routinely mispronounce American proper names. BBC, in common American usage, the city of Houston Texas is pronounced Hew ston, Houston Street in lower Manhattan is pronounced Howse ton. Neither are pronounced Hoo ston.

  • 43.
  • At 12:32 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Lee wrote:

Until a few years ago Iraq was always pronounced to rhyme with 'back'. BBC policy now seems to insist it is pronounced to rhyme with 'mark'. What is all that about?

'War Crime' a word only to be used for other governments actions and not our own.

Why is that?

  • 45.
  • At 02:46 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Jane wrote:

My pet hate is the phrase "our top stories tonight..." which seems to be used more and more often by newsreaders these days.

  • 46.
  • At 05:48 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Magyar Hettie wrote:

First, only a section of people who notice and mind these mistakes write in. Second, I know that there is an ongoing argument between the advocates of prescriptive and descriptive grammar, and the BBC might have adopted the latter approach. How very post modern to say "who are we to judge uses of English?". Well you are the British Broadcasting Company, so you are responsible for correct use of your chosen medium/tool.

Therefore, I think, you don't need to apologise for high standards or think that standard English is not inclusive. The best start people can have in their school and career is their good command of their mother tongue and if they don't hear it spoken properly at home or school, the BBC is probably their only chance.


  • 47.
  • At 11:41 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

People in the media always misuse 'ironically'!

  • 48.
  • At 04:45 PM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Errors in pronounciation and gramatical usage are hardly my favorite BBC gaffs. Several years ago BBC aired a piece on New York City to strains of Gershwin's "An American in Paris." I wrote them about it and they offered one of their usual lame excuses.

Int it bout time youse lot got ower the
gramma usige of the bbc?

At end o day its the new what counts!

Well, seeing as you ask ... why, oh why, do you insist on using the word "decimate" to mean "a whole lot of ..."? "They were decimated by ", when you really mean to say that "the majority of those present were "? Decimate is a perfectly good word, and clearly means that one in ten were killed. So why do most journalists abuse it so regularly?

  • 51.
  • At 04:52 PM on 04 Aug 2006,
  • IAN CHRISTIE wrote:

Three points:

1) Editors often comment on Radio 3/4 listeners' interest in grammar and high standards of punctuation and delivery as though this is is solely the obsession of an elite of 'sticklers' in the audience. But as Simon Hugo noted, standards and conventions are not the preserve of a minority but are the essential basis on which everyone can take part in conversation, writing and reading. If editors and producers crave to be 'inclusive' then clarity and adherence to a common standard in grammar, pronuncation and punctuation are vital.

2) Barrie Redfern is spot on with his attack on the weird intonation patterns of many broadcasters, who seem to be under instructions to place strong emphasis on words at random in order to sound more interesting and presumably to prevent the dumbed-down viewer from switching off or over.

3) A related point is the strange fashion for eliding sentences, so that one runs straight into another before the broadcaster is compelled to take a breath mid-sentence. It can be extremely hard to follow what is being said sometimes. This habit is now unbreakable with eg Jim Naughtie on TODAY and is widespread elsewhere on the news programmes. I assume that the intention is to sound informal, conversational, improvised and 'accessible'. In reality it is irritating and often a barrier to understanding. So please stop - you know who you are.

  • 52.
  • At 09:11 AM on 07 Aug 2006,
  • Leon wrote:

Presently, I am living in the USA. I emigrated from England in 2002, and miss my homeland a great deal.

On occassion, the use of what they like to call English here, makes me cringe, however there are exceptions to the rule.

Fall rather than autumn is, I believe Elizabethan English retained in common usage here after this country gained it's independence, as indeed is 'gotten', rather than got.

I like this, it is rather quaint.

I try my best to retain my English accent, as so many folk here seem to appreciate it.

I achieve this by listening to recodings by elequent speakers such as Kenneth Williams and Penelope Keith, such a joy.

Films with British actors and actresses also help, (I hate females being referred to as actors).

A most useful book is 'Mother Tounge' by Bill Bryson...

I also belong to a number of newsgroups where I find the standard of English nothing short of completely dreadful.

I mostly tolerate such horrors lest I should be considered a pedant, or as they prefer to say over here: 'anally retentive' Yuk!

With all Good Wishes

Léon




  • 53.
  • At 05:01 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Satriya wrote:

I'm interested in newsreaders intonation,
and I'm going to propose a thesis about it. I need a standard intonation of BBC newsreaders that will be my reference. Can you help me? where can I get the rules of intonation in BBC for newsreaders?
thanks

  • 54.
  • At 05:50 PM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Nigel wrote:

I wonder when the pronunciations unit is going to teach many of the BBC reporters and presenters to pronounce the French city of Strasbourg properly. along with many other British people they say "Stras-berg" – I really cannot understand how "Bourg" can become "Berg!" You only have to look how it is spelt.

It is so much nicer when listening to a French news programme hearing it pronounced "Stras-bourg." After all it is in France, not in Germany.

I agree with the posts that complain about the use of terror, when terrorist or terrorism are the correct terms. The BBC seems to suffer from laziness, especially when typing it.

Too many reporters and presenters are also saying "terr" and "ferr" in the place of "to" and "for."

Last is the use of 'gridlock' to describe a traffic hold-up. This is an American word and is not applicable to U.K. roads. Therefore, the M6 cannot be gridlocked, this is impossible.

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