English – she’s a funny language

English is a crazy language, just try explaining why we use certain words in a certain way to people who are just learning it.

It is totally baffling and often inexplicable, even for those of us for whom it is a first language.

As a TV news presenter I have long realised the importance of pronouncing peoples names and place names correctly as a mark of respect and accuracy.

However, the double standards have always intrigued me.  Example, years ago when  Reykjavik was hit by an earthquake we raced for the pronunciation guide to find the accurate, local pronunciation.

Same with theatres of war during the Vietnam conflict, Phnom Penh, Phuoc Thuy , Nui Dat etc.

This has been a daily exercise as a journalist/ presenter and rightly so.

After always pronouncing Peking and Bombay we learned it was Beijing and Mumbai.

All good so far, but what about Paris, Rome, Naples, Moscow? All English speaking news services pronounce them that way.

Even though it should be Paree, Roma, Napoli and Mockba.

So why do we fervently seek to pronounce all new (to us) place names as the locals do but when it comes to places that have been Anglicised forever we are intransigent?

Is it disrespect, carelessness,  or  just plain ennui?

I’d love to hear your theory.

English – she’s a funny language.

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