pronunciation and language help

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Leila Dougan, May 24, 2004.

  1. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    I've known, for quite some time, that there is a word I do not pronounce correctly. That word is "often".

    Yes, I pronounce the "t". I have no idea how or why I started this, but I've been doing it for many years. Perhaps it's something I picked up when I first started to read. I really don't know.

    I do not like pronouncing words incorrectly, so I want to shake this one. The word is just so frequent in my speech and the habit is so ingrained that most of the time I say the word without realizing I've said it.

    Any tips for correcting my pronunciation of this word?

    As an aside, my pronunciation in general is terrible. I am decent with grammar and okay with spelling. I also sincerely think my spelling is hampered by my poor ability to pronunciate. I think I have a decent vocabulary and reading is not a problem, but sometimes speaking is. For many infrequently used words, I just cannot remember how to say them! I'll be in the middle of a conversation and I'll know which word I want to use, yet somehow I have no idea how to say it. So obviously instead of attempting and failing, I use more simplistic words.

    For what it's worth, I also have trouble reading out loud. I sound like a 4th grader (awkward pauses, mispronunciations, no fluidity, etc) and it's quite embarrasing. But reading silently I'm fine. This is very frustrating.

    I used to be so good at reading and speaking when I was younger, I have no idea what's happened in the last few years. I'm only 24! Somehow I feel that it's all related to my extremely phonics-oriented education. Most of the words I trip up on have non-standard spellings and pronunciations. Oh, and emphasis shifts cause me a lot of trouble (like the difference between aristocrat and aristocracy). But really it could be anything, maybe?

    Anyway, sorry for my long post. Is there anything wrong with me? How can I improve?

    Thanks a bunch for any help.
     
  2. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    AFAIK, there's nothing wrong with enunciating the "t" in "often". Isn't it a dialectical difference? I.e. certain regions of England would enunciate it, others would not? No doubt Rex Bachman and/or Andrew Markworthy would be able to shed light on the topic.
     
  3. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Thanks Yee. Maybe I've just developed a complex? I've had several people point it out and I don't know anybody who says it like I do. Merriam-Webster says that pronunciation is found in educated speech but some think of it as questionable and unacceptable.

    If my pronunciation is fine then I'll try not to worry about it.
     
  4. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Well, I'm assuming the people you spend time with have the same level of education as you. I was once laughed at for pronouncing "grocery" with every syllable rather than "gross-ry." I hope I don't sound like a snob, but the ones laughing did not get beyond a high school education, if that. Great people but not academic.

    I am a bit of a stickler for pronunciation, to the point that I will pronounce a word the way it should be (or maybe the way I think it should be) despite popular usage. For example, "sherbet." Most everyone inserts a second "r" (making me think of all those times Ernie said "Sure, Bert!") but I refuse to do it, even when people look at me funny. I do have my limits though. I know someone who pronounces "almonds" as "aa-mands" but I can't bring myself to do that one. And I also have my inconsistencies due to family habits, such as "pumpkin" as "punkin'" (which has a new meaning now thanks to Mr. Kutcher).

    That said, I have a friend who is a teacher of teachers who has his own foibles like "museum" as "mu-zeem" and "aficionado" as "afici-nando." Which all just shows that nobody is perfect [​IMG]

    I think your difficulty reading aloud would be helped by just practicing. If your husband is willing, why don't you read a book together and take turns reading to each other. I'm sure it would help in that regard and also be a rather sweet thing to do as a couple.

    EDIT: As far as "often" goes, I go both ways. I don't know why I switch, but that's pretty consistent with other aspects of my personality.
     
  5. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I'm pretty sure I grew up with phonics too and I don't think it's a bad thing. My dad has always played with words though, so growing up we heard all sorts of mis-pronunciations and letter exchanges for the sake of a joke (e.g. "Are you a smart feller or a fart smeller?"). Turns out he inadvertently taught me mnemonics, and I figured out how to spell/pronounce words by breaking them apart into sections or stupid phrases. I don't think I ever thanked him for that, so it's good Father's Day is coming up!
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Kinda reminds me of "herbs": Americans on TV seem to pronounce it as "errrbs", and "herbal" as "errbal", which bugs the "ell" out of me.
     
  7. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Yeah, we snigger at those who pronounce the "h" but now that you bring it up I really don't know why we do that. Another one of those things...

    So how do you pronounce "almond?"
     
  8. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    With the "l". But I :b snigger at those who pronounce the "l" in "salmon", which some around here do. Go figure.

    Back to "herbs", if anything I'd have thought it's the Cockneys who drop the "h" all around.

    Where are Messrs Bachmann and Markworthy when you need them? [​IMG]
     
  9. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Leila,

    As long as you don't pronounce library "lie-berry" you're doing OK. [​IMG]


    Yee-Ming,

    British comedian Eddie Izzard does a "bit" in his stand-up routine about herbs.


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    oh how I love Eddie [​IMG]
     
  11. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    [​IMG]
    I would've said something similar, but I was being mindful of the fact that the vast majority of HTFers are American... [​IMG]

    But seriously, are there any other "h" words where the "h" gets dropped nowadays? Aside of course from obvious ones like "hour".

    Historically, some might have said "an 'otel" for "a hotel", but I don't think anyone does anymore.
     
  12. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Thanks all for making me feel better [​IMG]

    Ya know, now that I think about it I believe I pronounce "often" both ways. I think I change it depending on it's context. Hmm. . .

    And about the H thing. . .I knew this stoner guy in high school who'd always say "So, ya wanna go smoke some herbs?" but put extra emphasis on the H. What a dork.

    And I just finished taking a class at my local university where the professor, seriously, did not pronounce on "h" sound! Well, he was British so that might have something to do with it. I just keep hearing him in my head saying "Does anybody 'ave any more 'omework?".

    As far as the reading thing goes, yeah I read out loud all the time to my husband. Usually just reading articles and funny posts off the net. But I still cannot seem to get any better. Oh well professionally I don't have to do it often and since most of my communication is via email, I can at least seem intelligent. [​IMG]
     
  13. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    "In 'Artford, 'Ereford and 'Ampshire 'urricanes 'ardly hever 'appen."

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
     
  15. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Nathan,

    A picture truly is worth a thousand words. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    Leila, looks like we're in the same boat. I pronouce it as "off-ten", and I've always felt that those who drop the 't' weren't pronouncing it correctly. My .02, anyway. [​IMG]
     
  17. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Another "h" word came to mind this morning, "homage". Again, Hollywood types, when trying to justify their latest "reimaging" crap, talk about making an "oh-maaj" to the original (making it sound kinda French). The local DJ said "hom-ij", which BTW is how I'd pronounce it as well. So which is which?
     
  18. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    My dictionary says the latter pronunciation with optional "h." However its roots are French, so the "h" would be silent and pronunciation would be the former. Rhymes with "fromage." Pay homage to the fromage.
     
  19. andrew markworthy

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    Quite right. In most English accents, the 't' is pronounced, but only just (i.e. not 'off-ten'). In 'Estuary English' (the rather sloppy pronunciation of the majority of the inhabitants of the Thames Estuary - including London - which is gradually being taken up by the rest of the country, alas) the 't' is totally missing.

    In Brit English, the 'correct' pronunciation of 'almond' would be something like 'are-mond'. Equally, the correct pronunciation of 'turquoise' is 'turkwaz'; and 'Chomondeley' [a surname] is pronounced as 'Chumley'. We do this deliberately to confuse foreigners. [​IMG]

    Incidentally, the dropping of aitches at the beginning of words has a curious history. The first people to do it were the upper classes as some sort of affectation. This explains why in Brit English it's correct to say 'an hotel', because at one stage, the initial 'h' in 'hotel' wasn't pronounced. And this also probably explains 'herb' - America for some reason is stuck with a pronunciation that died out in the UK a long time ago. This affectation for dropping aitches, was, however, soon copied by the lower classes, causing the upper classes to start using them again. For some reason, the dropped aitches remained in many 'lower class' dialects. Hence, in later times, dropped aitches were a dead giveaway of your social origins, and this is why Professor Higgins was so anxious to get Eliza Doolittle to say 'Hampshire' properly. It also accounts for why in many older Brit films, you get some characters (particularly older women) over-pronouncing their aitches and indeed putting them in front of words where they're not needed. To a Brit this indicates instantly that such characters are from humble origins and are attempting (unsuccessfully) to hide their roots.
     
  20. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    I knew AW would come through! [​IMG]

    As an aside, pet peeve this, around here, they say "haitch" instead of "aitch". Really bugs me, this one... [​IMG]
     

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