Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The degradation of pronunciation

by Rick Blechta

I’m feeling curmudgeonly today, so you’ve all been warned. My irritation about what I’m going to discuss has been building for weeks now and finally reached a tipping point this morning. Anyway, here we go!

Is is just me or has correctly pronouncing words in English been going downhill more rapidly of late?

Listening to the 7:00 a.m. news on CBC radio this morning, someone was being interviewed and my teeth were immediately set on edge when the interviewee said, “It’s up to the government to pertect Canadians…”

Now this was a reasonably intelligent person (a physician) whom I’m sure would never incorrectly write the word “protect”, but yet in speaking, she obviously didn’t notice how badly she’d mangled the pronounciation of this very common word.

I’ve noticed this trend lately particularly in words beginning with “pro”. They’re far too often spoken as if the word began “per”.

Another word generally butchered when spoken is “immediate.” It’s now usually pernounced as if it begins with a long ‘e’, i.e. “emmediate.” It always makes me grind my teeth.

Years ago I noticed people seldom say February correctly. The ‘u’ is almost universally left out: “Feberary.” It’s so common now, it barely registers — which is in itself a bad sign.

I suppose there are those who would cluck in disapproval and tell me that English is constantly evolving, but damn it all, this is not evolving it’s devolving and just plain sloppiness.

I acknowledge that, among all the other bad things that have occurred in 2020, my complaint is minor and far, far from the worst thing that’s taken place. After all, this year saw “irregardless” being recognized by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as being an acceptable word (although non-standard).

I, for one, won’t go along with this barbarity!

Is there are particularly poor pronunciation of a word that causes you grit your teeth? Please share it with all of us.

Stepping off the soapbox now…


Anna said...

Joo-ler-ee for jewelry. The spelling is entirely straightforward and plain: no silent letters, no mysteries. The root "jewel" launches the lips and tongue correctly into the complete word. Are some people afflicted with a false sense of reluctance to begin with "jew" lest they be thought antisemitic? I suspect not. It's just plain sloppiness, acquired in early life. Before long these acquired characteristics will be inherited, alas.

Douglas Skelton said...

Calvary instead of cavalry.
Reprise pronounce to rhyme with prize instead of ease
Overuse of the words literally, iconic, genius and unprecedented.