Sunday, January 28, 2007

Native pronunciations in the news

We are all familiar with the practice of news reporters employing (or at least attempting to) a native pronunciation of place names when covering stories in countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Venezuela. Saturday Night Live had a good spoof of this on its "Weekend Update" a few years ago.

Then it occurred to me that I think I've heard this native pronunciation used only for Spanish-language place names. I don't think I've ever heard native pronunciation used for places like Paris, Moscow, Berlin, Cape Town, New Delhi, and so forth. The only exception is when I once heard a reporter use the native pronunciation for Baghdad. Is this a double-standard? And if it is, why has no one objected before?

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