Mispronouncing names: Anders Breivik

I get a little irritated when people don’t pronounce non-English names correctly. To me, it demonstrates a lack of respect on the part of the offender,  even when the correct pronunciation has been pointed out to them by a native speaker. I have already written a blog on this very subject with regards to the former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Olympique Lyonnais manager Gerard Houllier, whose name is often mispronounced by BBC reporters, pundits and others.

With the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo this week, the BBC have done it again. Even when a Norwegian utters the correct pronounciation of the name “Breivik” to reporter Jon Sopel, he still pronounces the name “Bray-vik” instead of “Bry-vik”. What’s worse, is that he ignores the Norwegian who happens to be speaking and carries on with his mispronunciation as if nothing ever happened.

This is a mixture of arrogance and ignorance on the part of the BBC and, I daresay the other British news providers, who seem to feel that they know how to pronounce Norwegian names better than the Norwegians. The only BBC newsreader to pronounce Breivik’s name correctly was Huw Edwards on the 10 O’clock News last night. Everyone else has been absolutely shocking.

I thought the BBC had a tip-top pronunciation department. It seems to me that they no longer care about correct pronunciation. If anyone from the BBC is reading this, please don’t write and tell me that there are “two pronunciations” because it isn’t true.


Just to add, Breivik is a paranoid and cold-hearted mass murderer. Though there are some people in Britain who view him as a martyr. You can find them leaving comments on Telegraph blogs where they will trot out phrases like “anti-racism = anti-white” and “Cultural Marxism”. They will even provide links to right-wing conspiracy sites like Gates of Vienna, which they believe will lend gravitas to their ideas.  In a future blog I will dispel the myth of so-called Cultural Marxism and ask why the right is so obsessed with conspiracy theories.


Filed under BBC, Media

4 responses to “Mispronouncing names: Anders Breivik

  1. A

    Don’t care if a mass murderer’s name is mispronounced. Doesn’t deserve respect anyway. The snub to the Norwegian on the news was bad, but that’s about it.

  2. Polyglot

    It really irritates me when people drop pronouns. Damn rude, no need for it, don’t know why people do it.

    More irritating is the practice of the BBC and other English-language media drowning out people speaking other languages with voice-overs. I was able to follow the speech given by the then Prime Minister of Norway with subtitles, which you can watch here (you have to click on the CC) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oPbd9UvZuY

    Portuguese names get rendered as Spanish ones, so José (pronounced as ‘Zho-zay’) becomes ‘Ho-zay’.

    • I listened in horror as I heard BBC reporter after BBC reporter mispronounce the place name Chemnitz. Not a single reporter or anchor could get it right. In German, ‘ch’ has the Scottish ‘loch’ sound.

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