snobby pronunciation

Spinning GlobeWhen I was growing up, the Chinese capital was pronounced “PEE-king.” There was no latitude in the pronunciation of this word. It was not POO-king nor PIE-king. It was PEE-king.

To deliberately say the word otherwise would be risking a paddle swatted against your rump for cutting up or being a pest in class.

Then a few years ago, I noticed newscasters and politicians saying “BAY-sheeng,” instead of the well-worn, polished word implanted in my vocabulary. They would have a sneaky look on their faces like they were putting one over on us.

They would smirk into the camera and say it with strong emphasis on the first syllable — “BAY-sheeng,” all superior and smug; like they were schooling a slow student by example.

Ted Koppel would stretch the word out like he was pulling taffy, “BAAAYYYY-SHEEEEEENG!” Letting it get up all in his adenoids and sinus cavities. “Listen up you dummies – this is the way to say it now. Peking has been pimped.”

Obviously, they were showing off, thinking they knew something the rest of us didn’t. They were right about one thing — we didn’t know what they were talking about. Bayshing? Where the heck is that? Is that a place or a skin rash?

It’s gotten worse. Lately, I’ve noticed some broadcasters and politicians saying “POCKY-stan” for Pakistan.” Even President Obama has taken it up. POCKY-stan – get used to it. Pocky, pocky, pocky. Sounds like Walter Mitty’s description of a Model T’s engine noise.

POCKY-stan is gaining a foothold in the culture faster than kudzu on an abandoned Dixie farm. It is spreading through the cable channels like a strep-throat through a kindergarten.

Who can say whether Mr. B.H. Obama deliberately embraced the updated pronunciation or it was merely a smudge on his TelePrompTer? All that matters now is that the lapels on POCKY-stan’s jacket have been permanently altered.

POCKY-stan is now parting its hair on the other side.

Nobody ever sends out a memo about these word changes. The language elites and narcissists among us take up the new fad word and the rest of us, eternally fearful that we won’t be relevant and cool, will eagerly stick the new word in our mouths.

Monkey hear, monkey say. “It’s pronounced POCKY-stan? OMG! I had no idea! I hope nobody noticed!” If it doesn’t taste good at first, we keep chewing away praying we’ll get used to the sour flavor.

(I have a simple explanation of why the Kennedy’s pronunciation of Cuba — CUE-burr –never caught on: Nobody else said CUE-burr because they didn’t want to sound like a GOO-burr.)

What gives with these snobby word pronunciations? Are they just trying to make average Americans feel ignorant? And worry that our language skills have deteriorated along with our sex appeal and our earning power and our ability to elect a functioning government?

(It was horrible when they tried to shove that new goofy pronunciation of Nicaragua down our throats. Thank God that fad was rejected by Americans faster than Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. It was hard to keep a straight face when a slicked-down talking head said “Knee-hoo- rah-wah.”

You couldn’t tell if he was saying the name of the country or needed a Heimlich maneuver.)

But, my hat is off to the Tea Party for showing us the correct path. They don’t seem to fall for foolish fads like changing the way words are pronounced. They don’t even put a lot of thought to the correct spelling of the old words.

Morons will have to be happy being called “morans.” It’s not that big of a change. Deal with it. I’ve been called worse. Much worse.

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Image: Spinning Globe gif by HatePlow via Giphy.com.