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English usage slipshod

IT was with pleasure that I read CA Banda’s recent comments on the mispronunciation of many English words because I have been tempted to raise this thorny matter on many occasions.

Even in England – where one can be forgiven for thinking that the language would be spoken correctly – newsreaders and media presenters frequently mispronounce words, and incorrectly emphasise words, and the wrong part of some words and sentences.

In Britain this is inexcusable because the BBC (especially) has the most extensive library to help staff get things right, but presumably they all think they do not need to worry about such trivia!

Fashion plays a large part in this kind of slipshod speech, and the fashion over the past 20 years has been to scale down standards in every direction to an extent where the average person refuses to accept that there are rules in every language and culture which must be taught and observed.

Unfortunately today’s teachers don’t seem to observe – or know – the rules, so what hope for their pupils? American pronunciation is given precedence (the way harass has become ha-rass for example). Most English dictionaries not only give the meaning of words but also the pronunciation, if only people would use them!

I have to end by saying how much I admire indigenous Zimbabweans for

their knowledge and use of English, whether correctly or incorrectly pronounced. I wish we whites could do half as well with Shona and Ndebele.

Norma Keatley,


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