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Mispronunciations Won't Bring Down The Nation

By LC Van Savage

When Gerald Ford first had the presidency thrust upon him, Americans were ready to find all manner of things wrong with him. His speech, his falling down, his clothing, his wife, his grammar---everything. Late night comedians had a field-day with him, but I recall one of our more famous anchorman pundits admonishing us during his 11 PM newscast to,“Let’s just knock it off. So the guy mispronounces a word or two. Let’s move on from that and concentrate on his presidency. Let’s give the guy a break.” Bravo, whoever you were.

So, running the risk of being called a Bushite, I think it’s time we stopped getting on our current president’s case because he can’t seem to say nuclear. It’s noo-kyew-lur for him and that’s it. I suspect American tax payers are paying a whole bunch of elocution experts to drop into the White House a few days a week to give Dubbya some lessons, but they don’t seem to be taking --- at least not with the N word which, alas, is a shame he has to utter anyway, all things considered.

We don’t seem to get on his case for saying “err” for “our.” “In err great country…”, “May err flag fly high,” and “Err swell American citizens…” Is that how they say “our” in Texas? Doesn’t really matter. The point is that people can run a country well, and still mispronounce words.

I don’t mind if George II does that, but what really honks me is when he tries to talk folksy in his please-re-elect me commercials. It’s plainly obvious that whomever writes his scripts makes certain the last word of them the listeners hear ends in “ing” so he can drop the G and end that word in “IN.” Apparently this means he’s one of us, just plain folks.

Come on Mad Ave; let’s not be so blatantly obvious. Babbs’s baby boy is not just one of us. He may say he is, but he’s the prez for heaven’s sake, and so should stop dropping his Gs which everyone else in the country does too, but that’s no excuse. He is our Glorious Leader and it’s up to him to not lose the G from words ending in ING. Newkyewlur and err are OK, but not those deliberately dropped Gs. It’s not right or correct, and doing that probably won’t buy votes.

And we have other politicos who put a wee strain on the English language. Governor Terminator for one. I know he was born in Austria and he’s made a huge success of his life here in the colonies, but really, if he’s going to govern an American state, he should at least work on the pronunciation of it. When Ahhnold speaks of his adopted state, it sure sounds to me like he’s saying “Cauliflower.” He could fix that. I mean since he’s accomplished all he has with his life, he should have the self- discipline to say “California” and not “Cawlyfornia.” Oh well, I’m being picky and he can obviously govern Cauliflower perfectly well even if he can’t pronounce it.

So what does it matter, in the Great Scheme? It doesn’t. We don’t have any audio recordings of Washington or Lincoln, but I’ll bet they too butchered the language. Lincoln was supposed to have had a high-pitched unpleasant voice, but we still look on his presidency with a sense of worshipful awe. Washington allegedly could never smile because of his ill-fitting false teeth (no, they weren’t wooden.) They hurt and his speech was affected by them, or so it is written. But we don’t dwell on that and who cares if his dentures maybe made him mispronounce words? We remember his great accomplishments, both pre and post his presidency.

So let’s forget about simple mispronunciations and concentrate on the issues these folks are struggling to get across to us, OK? Least that’s my thinkin’.  

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Reader Comments

Name: John I. Blair Email:
Comment: I read recently (in an article from the Atlantic, I think) that it's surprising how much George W.'s language and pronunciation improve when he isn't talking to voters, but is just relaxed with friends. And isn't it odd how he's the only one of George H.W.'s children who has developed a Texas twang? Listen to Jeb Bush . . . not a hint of a twang there. Fake folksiness should be a voter turnoff, but evidently not.



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