About a month ago I [wrote](http://noncompositional.com/2008/07/living-with-a-soft-j/) about what seems to be the more prevalent pronunciation of Beijing, namely that involving the postalveolar voiced fricative [ʒ]. Recently [an AP article](http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/news?slug=ap-tv-whatcity&prov=ap&type=lgns) was written that aims to clear everything up and explain that, in fact the “hard j” sound in English is a closer approximation to the Mandarin pronunciation than the “soft j” sound that I ([and](http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002167.php) [others](http://126.96.36.199/~myl/languagelog/archives/000570.html)) find so frustrating. The main source of the article is not native Mandarin speakers, but S. Robert Ramsey (whose book on Chinese I [mentioned](http://noncompositional.com/2005/07/unity-and-diversity-in-china/) about three years ago). Bill Poser [discusses](http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=493) the article on LL.
So, this is all to the good, no? I suppose…but then again, I find I usually pronounce the name of the city Shanghai so that the first vowel is that of _hang_ or _fang_, not that of _father_. This despite knowing full well the Mandarin pronunciation (which, as the official language, I would take to be the expected way for a foreigner to say the word, rather than in Shanghainese). In this case, the low mid-vowel is both the more proper and more foreign sounding option, and yet I do not frequently use it (at least, I don’t think I do, unless speaking with, say, a Chinese-speaker). Is Shanghai really that different from Beijing? And this is to say nothing of Seoul (which I render with a single syllable). Maybe I’m just a super-Anglicizer, and in the case of Beijing it happens to work out.
And for some sane arguments in favor of Beizhing, I recommend [this entry](http://www.bjshengr.com/bjs/2008/03/beizhing-pekin-whatever/) in Beijing Sounds.