Date: 14.06.2013Last updated: 25.06.2013 at 14.58

Category: Information and Archives

The BBC's Pronunciation Unit is part of Information and Archives. It consists of a specialist team that advises the whole of the BBC on the pronunciation of any word, name or phrase in any language.

Presenter Eddie Mair, from Radio 4's PM, asks pronunciation specialist Martha Figueroa-Clark: "Between me and Gordon Corera who do you think was more wrong?" 

Martha is one of three linguists from the BBC's Pronunciation Unit. Following an email from a listener about the mispronunciation of a Norwegian name on the PM programme Martha was asked to appear to explain how the Unit arrives at its recommendations and whether or not they receive many audience complaints. A Norwegian journalist from NRK was also interviewed to get an outside perspective on British broadcasters’ efforts when pronouncing foreign names.

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Other frequent mispronunciations include “controversy” and “kilometre”. Linguist, Jo Kim from the Unit has appeared on BBC One's Points of View to address some of the complaints the programme had received from the general public.

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It was the perfect opportunity to explain the Unit’s position on the pronunciation of contentious English words:

"if more than one pronunciation is codified in British English dictionaries, then it is not our policy to prohibit accepted variant pronunciations. After all, the BBC is here to reflect and represent the whole of the UK and this includes language used by British English speakers."

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