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Englishes on CNN

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CNN, a subsidiary of the AOL&Time Warner Group, is the leading broadcasting network in the world. With millions of people from almost any country in the world watching the news on the CNN TV channel, it is obvious that this media giant has a huge impact on what kind of English will be spoken as an international standard. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness regarding the following issues:

  • Is CNN dominated by the US American version of spoken English?
  • Does CNN reflect cultural diversity by employing newsreaders, anchors and reporters who speak various versions of English?
  • Does CNN also employ newsreaders and anchors who speak English not as their mother tongue but as a second language?

    The more opinions and viewpoints we gather, the more objective the picture we are drawing will become. We therefore would like to invite you to share your experiences and thoughts with us in an open forum.

    My opinions and observations are based on CNN Europe. The results represented here might be different in other parts of the world.

    With CNN being a US American news network you might be tempted to think that most of the newsreaders, anchors and reporters are Americans and therefore speak American English. Taking a closer look, however, you will discover that there is a great variety of spoken "Englishes" on CNN Europe.

    The following is my view on how I perceive and experience different English accents as I have my personal favourite newsreaders and anchors. There are, of course, a lot more newsreaders and anchors working on CNN and it seems that they present all major types of spoken English.

    Richard Quest
    Richard Quest is quite an impressive figure as he has a very distinctive way of presenting a news show. Seeing him on TV it’s very likely you get the impression that in addition to his qualification as a lawyer he is also an actor and that sets him apart from other news anchors. Richard Quest speaks a very British kind of English and especially his intonation is all but American.

    As of autumn 2003 he is the co-anchor of "BizNews", a rolling three hour live morning news and business European breakfast programme.

    Becky Anderson
    Becky Anderson has a very clipped accent, that might be regarded as "RP" -- the British standard pronunciation. She lives in London and has a BA degree in Economics and French from Sussex University.

    You can see and -- more importantly hear her British accent -- on CNN’s breakfast business show "World Business This Morning".

    Rosemary Church
    Rosemary Church’s accent is anything but American. She was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, lived several years in England and also in various parts of Australia and has studied at the Australian National University in Canberra.

    Michael Holmes
    Michael Holmes was the first Australian anchor for CNN International to join the network in April 1996. You can clearly make out his distinctive Australian accent.

    Tumi Makgabo
    Tumi Makgabo was born in South Africa and alongside English, she also speaks several African languages. To me her accent is very close to "RP", the British standard of spoken English.

    Anand Naidoo
    Anand Naidoo is from Johannesburg, South Africa where he studied Journalism. To me, his -- English also sounds very close to RP -- the British standard of spoken English.

    Ralitsa Vassileva
    Ralitsa Vassileva mother tongue is Bulgarian and I’ve included her in this list as an example of non-native speakers working for CNN. Realist Visalia speaks American English and if you listen carefully you can make out her Slavic origins.

    Guillermo Arduino
    Guillermo Arduino presents the weather on CNN Europe and he does it in such a way that you think the sun is always shining. I thought he was Italian until I checked the CNN website to learn that he is from Argentina and you can hear it clearly in his accent when he speaks.
  • Author: Torsten Daerr