Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good. Lao Tzu
We’ve seen a number of personnel changes amongst the broadcasters in the Lower Mainland over the last little while. Listening to some of the ‘new’ talent moves me to crank up the old “Lets not be stiff, but let’s get it right” file, from my own broadcasting days during the last century.
So with some fresh blood in the studios and newsrooms, I will unapologetically offer some things our information folks might think about while going about the daily task of “feeding the goat” (getting that next story).
Many people in the audience learn the language from the radio and television, and it’s the broadcasters that, for better or worse, provide the language standard they follow. So with the privilege of being that public voice, comes a level of responsibility to provide a quality level of language performance. I don’t in any way advocate a return to the time when the reader of the evening news on radio actually dressed in a tuxedo in order to create an air or sophistication that would radiate through the microphone. Those days are long gone thankfully, but I still believe that news readers, reporters and program hosts should exhibit a reasonable understanding of grammar and knowledge of how to use the language. It’s the major tool of your trade.
- When did it become stylish to mis-pronounce the clean “c” (pronounced “see”) as an shhhh? It seems to be an affectation of some American broadcasters who pronounce the word grocer and groceries as grow-shur or grow-shurees. Check in out – even in American dictionaries there is no “sh” in the middle of the word. Likewise I heard an refer to ‘such and such Shtreet’ in conversation. I could hear that he had no speech impediment because he clearly pronounced clean “s” sounds in other words. So the question is, WHY? Shuggestion: shut the front door on SH and slip back to the simple sounds of the unencumbered “s.”
- Another head shaker involves those who insist on mis-pronouncing the name of our city and our region. I’m referring to the folks who, for some completely unfathomable reason want to call Vancouver, Van-kew-ver. What’s with that? It’s Van-koo-ver, kids. And while I’m at it, the word coupon is pronounced koo-pon, not kewpon. I’ve had some people argue that it’s a regional thing from eastern Canada. Might be, but it’s flat out WRONG! Cou any phonetical way you slice it is pronounced koo. Perhaps the distortion arises from being kewped up indoors during those long eastern winters.
- I’ve long banged the drum about those who mis-prounounce the name Fraser, which I think has been corrupted by the name of the bar-fly psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier (note the spelling difference) Crane, who hung out at Cheers until moving to Seattle and staring in his own TV series. Even though “Frasier” concluded in 2004, this ear-worm seems to persist to this day, and many still think that Fraser (properly pronounced Fray-sir) should be slurred as Fray-jur. Please don’t!
Grammar (and we don’t mean Kelsey)
- One grammatical irritation is the apparent ignorance concerning the use of gone and went. If you should have been somewhere (past tense) the correct word to use is ‘gone” as in, ‘I should have gone to the game last night.’ Instead, there are some who insist on saying; ‘I should have went to that concert/game/bunfight/ last night.’
- When addressing more than one person as ‘you’ (the second person pronoun) the plural word is also “you.” The Americans in the southern states particularly, customized the plural application with “you-all” and it’s a part of the American accent. What isn’t right however is the teeth-grinding, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard screeching, “youse-guys” or the possessive “your-guyses.” It’s particularly distressing when someone who should know better drops that clanger.
So good luck to the new arrivals to our television and radio services, listen to air-checks of yourselves and never underestimate the power of the tools of your trade.
I’ll leave you with the words of the philosopher Epictetus (55 to 135 AD) who said, “First learn the meaning of what you say and then speak.”
And that’s a wrap!