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How to say: Jarosław Kaczyński

Host Host | 13:08 UK time, Wednesday, 30 August 2006

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

"Today's pronunciation is Polish Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński. Our recommendation is yarr-OSS-waff katch-IN-ski (-arr as in marry; -tch as in church).

"The barred L in Jarosław is pronounced like a W in English, while the Ń in Kaczyński represents a nasalised vowel in a native Polish pronunciation but this is rendered as a nasal consonant in our anglicised pronunciation. Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland and Jarosław Kaczyński's twin brother is pronounced LEKH (-kh as in Scottish 'loch')."

Click for a guide to our phonetic pronunciations (PDF)


  • 1.
  • At 05:18 PM on 30 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew Armitage wrote:

Not so much pronunciation but the way things are read, nonetheless, is something that's annoying me about BBC newsreaders at the moment - very experienced ones on R4, too. A concept is introduced into a story, but, when it's mentioned again, it gets a stress put on it as if it were being given for the first time. It happens all the time. We might get, 'Greanpeace has launched a plan to blah, blah ... Ministers have responded to the group ...' instead of '... ministers have responded to the group, saying ...' So please stop it. It's getting right on my pectorals.

  • 2.
  • At 09:39 PM on 30 Aug 2006,
  • Rosemary Stephens wrote:

Could there be some uniformity in the pronunciation of HIZBOLLAH? People living in the Middle east seem to say hizBOLLah, with minimum stress; newsreaders and others stress the final syllable.

Are we changing the stress in CONTRIBUTE? We used to stress TRIB but more and more on the BBC it comes out as CONtribute.

Damilola Tayloris name is Yoruba and the LOL should be pronounced LOLL. Did no one ask his parents how to say it? It was always pronounced as LOW on the News.

  • 3.
  • At 04:25 AM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • howard wrote:

Your staff linguists can help your correspondent fix the following report:


The quoted words "Bezrat Ashem" should actually have been rendered, "B'ezrat Hashem".

B'ezrat = (roughly) "with the help of", or more literally, "in the help of."

The Hebrew verb "azar" means "to help." This is the root of the Biblical name "Ezra."

The Hebrew prefix "B'" means "in," so B'ezrat = "in the help of."

Hashem = "the Name [of G-d]"

Ha = the
Shem = Name

Religious Jews typically refer to G-d by referring to His Name rather than naming Him directly.

The idiom translates to, "with G-d's help."

I can see how the error was made. When spoken by Israeli, the "h" sound at the beginning of "Hashem" is subtle, and is difficult to hear after the "t" in B'ezrat.

I am sure that your reporter's desire to learn a bit of Hebrew (and maybe understand the people of Israel) was sincere. So, I hope that he finds this little capsule of info to be interesting.

  • 4.
  • At 05:05 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ben wrote:


If only the BBC had a pronunciation unit to teach presenters how to pronounce English....

  • 5.
  • At 05:37 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • J.P.Leigh wrote:

Am I right in thinking that female slavonic surnames are being wrongly stressed? We hear NavratilOVA and SharapOVA, wheras it should surely be NavraTILova and ShaRAPova. (I hear that Martina tried unsuccessfully for years to get people to say it right). We don't say:
ClarkSON, WilliamSOM, JohnSON, because the stress would tell us little, and it is reasonable to suppose that neither would the Slavs stress 'OVA'

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