You’re on the Air
How much more slovenly can broadcast speech become? I can’t be the only one who wonders, and I’m surprised at how often the slovenly speech comes from the lips of top-of-the-line communications professionals.
Hardly a day goes by that some network news announcer somewhere doesn’t talk about “Present Obama.”
He (or she) is referring to the “Present” of the United States, of course.
And if I’ve heard “opportunies” once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.
I don’t know about you, but I’d gladly pass up the “opportuny” to hear it again.
And how about “unfortunely?”
And “fedder reserve?”
This list could go on and on. Feel free to add some of your own.
Some of these neologisms are rooted, I suspect, in a belief that air time requires one to talk fast. To an extent, it does. But dropping syllables to shorten words, and therefore sentences, is hardly a suitable route to brevity. Commercial speech should call attention to itself for its content, not its substandard language.
And, please, Mr. and Mrs. Anchor Person: if you can’t pronounce “peculiarities” and “particularly,” try “oddities” and “specifically” instead. For some reason, “particularly” ties more tongues than first love does. Haven’t heard it pronounced correctly on the air since about 1948. I admit it’s a doozie even off the air and often loses even two of its five syllables, as in “pa-tik-ly.” Ouch!
While you’re at it, Professional Communicator, please learn how to say “vulnerable.” It is not, repeat not, “vunrable.”
And the word is “REAL-tor,” two syllables, not RE–la-tor,” which is three syllables (and simply wrong all around).
And it’s “OYS-ter,” not “OYS-cher.”
And the word “err,” (as in “To err is human”) rhymes with “her,” not with “hair.”
And let’s not forget the word “hundred.” This simple little word has been mangled so badly for so long (“hunnerd,” “hunner,” “hunnah”) that anybody who happens to say it right is likely to be corrected.
One more and I’ll quit (for the day): The word “forte” is pronounced “fort,” one syllable, not “for-tay.” To mispronounce it is a guaranteed way to look unsophisticated while trying to make the opposite impression. It’s a sure one-two punch to your image.
Luckily there’s a cure for all of the above bloopers and their many, many relatives: LOOK IT UP.
Yes, as in “dictionary.”
Back when I was a brand new reporter, in Augusta, new newsroom employees were handed – in the first hour of the first day – a dictionary and a style book, and advised to use them. I found it to be good advice then and excellent advice a while later when I wrote an editorial congratulating a local politician on his “moral turpitude.” Luckily, an eagle-eyed editor caught it before it saw publication, but the close call shortened his life span by 10 years, I think, and nearly aborted my fledging career.
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