Enunciation DOES Matter

In writing about language and in teaching it, I’ve often been criticized for making a case for a standard American pronunciation.

I’m no enemy of regional accents. I very much enjoy listening to the guests on Charlie Rose and the announcers on the BBC News.

I delight in the accents of Bill Moyers and Fran Drescher.

Foreign accents fascinate and delight me.A regional pronunciation or turn of phrase that does nothing to obscure understanding is one thing. Muffled enunciation and unusual inflections, however, present unnecessary difficulties.

For example, I’m a great fan of British mysteries on PBS, but some of the more recent productions feature principal characters who speak varieties of non-standard English that used to be reserved for minor characters.

I can’t enjoy these stories as I do the Hercule Poirot or Morse series because I have to struggle to understand what the main actors are saying.

At the cost of giving away free advertising to Samsung, I’m posting the UTube video of the current telephone ad featuring Ozzy Osbourne. I think it’s a great illustration of the importance of comprehensible enunciation.

2 Responses

  1. Just stumbled on your remarks. My husband and I have been having difficulty fully understanding many BBC programs in the last year or two. About one-third of the dialogue is so poorly enunciated that it is incomprehensible. Partly due too to the use of obscure British dialects. We watched a Harry Potter movie recently and had a similar problem. The BBC should be using subtitles.

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