22 June 2013

Pronunciation of Chinese

Newsreaders in Brunei have to get the Malay names right, and they can be impressively proficient in reading the full name of the Sultan and other important people without stumbling. However, there seems little effort to find out how Chinese names or words should be pronounced. It can't be that difficult to find out how to pronounce names and words written in Pinyin, and I don't understand why they don't do it.

Take, for example, the Brunei Times Berita video for 20 June (here). The newsreader reads the news pretty proficiently, but when she gets to the Chinese word Xiyouji Qingzhi, she pronounces it as [sijoutʃi tʃiŋtʃu] instead of [sijoudʒi tʃiŋdʒə], which would be much closer to the correct pronunciation without introducing any unfamiliar sounds. It's a pity that broadcasters in Brunei don't do more to help their newscasters to say something that is a bit more accurate.

In comparison, the English newsreader for the same clip (here) gets the words completely right (presumably because she is Chinese, so she probably speaks Mandarin). So why didn't the Malay newsreader ask her Chinese fellow newsreader for advice?