Guernica (pronunciation)

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The proper noun Guernica has normally been pronounced in British English, particularly in RP, as 'GWERN (or GERN)-ick-ah' (IPA: /'gwɜːr (or 'gɜːr) nɪk a/). The native Spanish pronunciation is more like 'ger-NEEK-ah' (/gɛr 'ni ka/). This pronunciation may be gaining ground in Britain, though to use it may risk being labelled affected.

Guernica is the name of a town in the Basque provinces of North-east Spain. It has long been seen as a centre of Basque nationalism, and in 1937 it was bombed (26th April), in an early experiment on the terror bombing of civilian targets, by the Condor Legion of the German Air Command in support of the fascist forces led by General Franco. Although the town was crowded with refugees, casualties may not have much exceeded 300, although over 1000 were reported at the time from the town. The effect was great: it was seen as an atrocity, and inspired an eponymous masterpiece by Picasso bringing out its destructiveness and horror.