21 february 2003 – speaking english?

Are there certain turns of phrase that bother you? Words or sentences that make you cringe uncontrollably? In recent years, even the newscasters seem to have become grammar-impaired. I realize that they are just puppets and read what is written for them, but you would think that they would be able to have some common sense. It seems that they are just regurgitating whatever mess of the English language has been presented to them in the past.

It is easy to locate the source of my preoccupation with grammar and usage. My maternal grandmother is an English language freak. She has a dictionary near to her at every moment of the day and if you mispronounce or misuse any word, she immediately scans the pages to find the correction. This isn?t something she does to make you feel badly, on the contrary, she wants to make sure that everyone speaks properly for when they go out into the world. We are all small pieces of the bigger family puzzle and as such, we must represent it in the best way possible.

In the event that you are put on the spot and do not know how to phrase something, just remember that the vast majority of people will not know if you are speaking correctly. With this being the case, people as high up as the President of the United States get away with some of the worst grammar in the free world. Not only mispronouncing words, but using phrases that would make anyone cringe. The worst offenders seem to be newscasters. At least, the local area news anchors, maybe not the national ones.

In college, students who wish to pursue careers in media are told that they need to train their voices to have a non-descript accent. The general consensus is to use the ?Mid Western? manner of speaking. This is a flat tone accent, and shows no ethnic or regional influence. Presenting the news with this accent supposedly makes it more official. Personally, I would rather hear someone with any old accent, as long as they pronounce the words correctly.

The thing that throws me is when I watch Canadian news. Newscasters in Canada have thick accents and they don?t try to hide it. This is the way it should be. We just want the facts presented in an intelligent manner, no matter what the tone of the voice presenting it is. Cutting back on useless jargon and gobbledygook would help the news flow better. Being sure that the phrases chosen are understandable to the masses and also make sense is a key attribute of good news writing. With or without a regional influenced speaking pattern, bad turns of phrase remain bad.

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