On pronunciation

I’m back up at Middlebury this weekend for the annual DigitalBridges2.0 conference with J-Ro. It’s great in many ways, but I was on a panel this AM with a professor who had some really weird pronunciations of what I’d consider to be household words. The one that comes to mind is “Barack” (as in Obama). As a political commentator himself, I would think that he knows how to say Barack Obama in the same way that the rest of the country pronounces his name. Instead he said “barrack” (as in military barrack). Right… what!?I’ve heard things like this from people before and can’t figure out how, unless you have a legit hearing impairment, how one makes such obvious speaking errors. Seems to me that either you want to set yourself apart by coining new pronunciations or you’re just talking without listening to the world around you.It’s like vinaigrette. Not a highbrow word per se, so then how have so many people started saying it as vinegar-ette?Hey, William Safire, when you’re done with On Language, we need you for a pronunciation column.

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2 thoughts on “On pronunciation

  1. You’re totally right Michael! It’s ridiculous, people saying in-comparable (in kuhm-pair-able) instead of incomparable (in-kom-per-uh-buhl). And it’s not just pronunciation either — I went to the video store the other day looking for a documentary called Baghdad ER, and the woman asked me how to spell Baghdad. no joke.There was also the commercial Christiane Amanpour did regarding the pronunciation of Iraq and Iran. “IH-ran, IH-raq. Not ‘Eye’, never ‘Eye’.” and I think she follows up with a pun, if someone pronounces it "Eye-ran" … where did they run? why were they running?anyways, nice post.

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