This post was inspired by hearing the way a commercial news network presenter pronounced the name of YPRES – the scene of many battles in WWI. The presenter called it EE-preS
YPRES is pronounced ‘different’ ways depending on whether you want to use: 1. the correct ‘local’version or 2. the popular “Anglo” version or 3. the way Australian troops often referred to it.
Australia troops used to pronounce it like ‘wipers’ – Y-pers.
The Anglo version – often defiantly not taking on the French/Belgian pronunciation keeping the final S silent – called it EE-pers
If you want to be correct in pronouncing YPRES and other words, I recommend the ABCs pronunciation guide – ABC PRONOUNCE. It says with authority – EEP-ruh. It’s good to have an authoritative reference.
I find Australian audiences are usually fairly forgiving about pronouncing the names of ‘foreign’ places – except when it comes to battlegrounds. People who still watch mainstream media are usually ‘mature’. They often know the proper way to pronounce these places and expect news presenters to pronounce the names correctly too.
Just remember, in French the S at the end of the word is silent – in place names that are part of the ‘Australian WW I experience’ – places like Ypres and Fromelles and Pozieres.
The ABC pronunciation guide is so valuable.
Here’s a link to ABC pronounce:
As you know, 2018 will be an important year leading up to the centenary of the end of WWI in 1918- so I recommend newsrooms pronounce the names of places correctly.
This post was inspired by a headline about a footballer (from an Australian rugby league team called the Cowboys) being charged with indecent assault.
The headline to me sounded like an amusing reference to the old Glen Campbell song Rhinestone Cowboy (like a Loathsome Cowboy…) Other media colleagues suggested it was wordplay on Lonesome Cowboy – which is probably more likely than my association with Rhinestone Cowboy – but I still encourage caution in using words like ‘loathsome’ to create some pun or wordplay.
You especially need to be careful with puns and wordplay in more serious stories destined for the courts.
A news boss of mine in the US liked clever writing and wordplay however he urged caution in court stories – especially when the subject of a story has the financial means to sue.
And speaking of the US, in the US there’s the famous Dallas Cowboys and yes, they too have inspired ‘loathsome’ puns too. Actually, in the case, it’s the fan who is ‘loathsome’.
O.K. back to the Australian headline and front-page splash about the ‘Loathsome Cowboy’.
Here, the headline is accompanied by plenty of other copy that sets the context that the ‘loathsome’ behaviour is alleged (accused by police). The danger can occur when the clever words are used later in promoting the story and the context words are not included.
Maybe, I am being too cautious. That’s the way I was trained by my news bosses about puns in ‘court stories’. With court stories I urge reporters and subs to play it straight – no matter how tempting it is to use words like ‘loathsome’ to create a clever pun or pop culture reference.