January 06, 2005

Is Our Televisions Teaching Me's?

Flipping around the tube this evening, I came across a show on some science network that purported to tell the story of a recent attempt to recreat Greek Fire and, at the same time, to tell of the Byzantine defense against the Arab onslaught in the 7th Century.

I had to turn it off after a few minutes, tho. For reasons totally beyond me, the narrator was pronouncing Byzantine "Buyz-n-tyne" instead of what I had thought to be the standard "Biz-n-teen".

One of Robbo's rules of thumb is that if the show can't even get the name of its subject right, it's probably not worth watching.

UPDATE: Just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I popped in my copy of the first episode of Kenneth Clark's "Civilisation" this morning. Clark, in fact, says "Bye-zan-tyne". He can get away with it a) because he's a Brit and b) because he's Kenneth Clark. But ordinary Amuricans like myself and last night's narrator should stick with Webster's pronunciation which is, in fact, "Biz-n-teen".

Posted by Robert at January 6, 2005 10:31 PM

By - zan - teen is how I've always said it. But being English I have an ability to merge all three sounds so it is a word.

Posted by: Monjo at January 7, 2005 06:41 AM

One of the most aggravating mannerisms is the tendancy to elavate oneself above the rest of us dolts by over-pronouncing words: "Jenjuss Khan" (from our friend JK), the unfortunate use of the British plural for singular forms (the media "are", the data "are"). It is all the more amusing when the mannerism spreads like a virus to other people so THEY can be in the club, too. Human nature is a funny thing and so are humans.


Posted by: Dan Patterson at January 7, 2005 08:53 AM

Dang it, as scientist I insist that the data ARE! If you say "the data is" in my class, I will call you a dolt. If you are talking about one item, say "the datum is" or, if you don't want to sound like a lawyer speaking latin, say "the piece of data is". And SPECTRUM is the singular of spectra: spectra is NOT a pluarlia tantum (and the plural of that is pluralia tanta).

AAAAAH! What do they teach kids in high school English these days?

Posted by: John at January 7, 2005 11:29 AM

One thing to consider, the Byzantines didn't know they were Byzantines, they thought they were Roman (though they usually thought so in Greek.)

Nobody else thought they were Byzantines until Greek-hating became fashionable in 18th C. France.

Wayne Sayles has been pushing, with limited success, for Romaion (which is easier to pronounce than Ρομαιων.)

Posted by: Ed Flinn at January 7, 2005 03:30 PM

Of course Kenneth is correct in his pronounciation.
1) Hes a Brit.
2) Hes Kenneth Clark.
Both of which you mention and
3) Hes a Lord.
Quite obvious that he must be correct.

Posted by: Tim Worstall at January 8, 2005 04:32 AM
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