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How to say: Machu Picchu

Host Host | 11:26 UK time, Friday, 8 September 2006

A guide to words and names in the news from Catherine Sangster of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

"Today's pronunciation is the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, in the news because of controversial helicopter flights. The pronunciation is MATCH-oo PEEK-choo."
Click for a guide to our phonetic pronunciations (PDF)

• From Monday, this guide will become part of the Magazine Monitor, which can be found at


What a lovely thought: a BBC Pronunciation Unit. I'm having jolly thoughts of people sitting around, contorting their lips and expanding their vocabulary in the most unlikely ways. But delighted to now know how to pronounce Machu Picchu, a place I have wanted to visit, and been mispronouncing, for most of my life.

  • 2.
  • At 01:44 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Don Drew wrote:

I've noticed that some readers of the Shipping Forecast pronounce the word "wrath" in Cape Wrath to rhyme with the "math" in "mathematics". To me, as a southern Englishman, it's alway been pronounced as "wroth" (the "o" as in "of") or as "wrorth".

What's the accepted form?

  • 3.
  • At 10:11 AM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

After watching a pronunciation expert trying to cure Inspector Clousseau in the Pink Panther movie, I think I can deal with anything that this Unit could come up with.

  • 4.
  • At 03:46 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • paul leighton wrote:

Definitely "Wroth".

As a former Radio 4 announcer(1979-81) and Radio 2 newsreader (1981-92 and 96-2000) I admit to having major problems with the sloppy presentation and pronounciation standards now typical of both radio networks. The BBC Pronounciation Unit has always been a solid provider of best practice, but we used to rail endlessly about the fact that Television newsreaders completely ignored the bulk of the advice on offer. Admittedly, based at Broadcasting House in Portland Place we had much closer contact with the Unit -and perhaps were more sympathetic to the advice given. In fairness to the Unit, their staff were very willing to listen to suggestions that their data-base was sometimes mistaken. ( I argued with them that the Beast of Bolsover was the MP for Bolsover (Bol - short o) whereas their index suggested Bowlseover. Puzzled as to where that version had come from, the card index showed it had last been checked in 1932 -and the person who had been asked for a definitive version had been the Canon who was Rector of Bolsover Church!

By the time I was training voices in the Journalist Training Unit I was told I could not interfere with their accents...only improve clarity and breathing! I have no problem with regional accents - unless they interfere with the understanding of the listener and distract from the
material being broadcast. OK, rant over!

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