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How should we pronounce Beijing?

August 21, 2015

So, the World Athletic Championships in Beijing are about to begin, and almost all the BBC announcers who name that city seem to pronounce it Beizhing, where the zh sound is the same as the French j, or the consonant in the middle of the English words pleasure or vision. But is that right? Shouldn’t that j sound more like the English one? Shouldn’t Beijing not rather rhyme with raging or assuaging? I know nothing about the pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese, and it is probably different in different regions anyway. But I feel, for some reason, that people who pronounce it as Beizhing are doing so because they think it sounds a bit more foreign, not because they actually know how to pronounce it.

Of course it used to be Peking, but that’s another story.

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