Posted by JC on December 31st, 2011
TV3 has a line-up of excellent regular newsreaders, both male and female. They present the news clearly and cleanly, and manage to avoid the contrived and cringe-making wordplay that litters TVOne’s bulletins.
However, the final bulletin for the year had the female newsreader labelling Diane Foreman an ‘entreprenyure’ – rhymes with ‘manure’ – and her male counterpart telling us about ‘nucyular’ capacity and Russell Brand’s ‘sex addition’. Tonight’s presenters are both familiar faces, but the channel didn’t give us their names. Wisely, perhaps.
Accurate pronunciation should be a prerequisite for those who make their living presenting television and radio bulletins, as should the ability to read short pieces aloud without making a complete twit of oneself, and just because we’re in the silly season doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect English-as-a-first-language from the network’s stand-in presenters.
Take two aspirin and wait for Caroline, Hillary, Mike and Simon to return…
I didn’t see tonight’s bulletin, but last night’s was very poorly written and edited. There were clumsy or simply ungrammatical sentences in the news script and in reports.
I think it’s fairly clear the A-team is on holiday.
TV3 are responsible for two of my favourite(if ‘favourite’ is the correct term) howlers. When they had the big storms in Queensland the voice-over told us they would have to ‘batter down the hatches’. The other sterling piece of work was regarding a piggery somewhere in NZ, where the reporter doing the piece-to-camera somehow managed to rhyme ‘sow’ with ‘toe’. TVNZ’s not immune, either. There was that female Middle East correspondent from a few years back who pronounced ‘Hezbollah’ a different way every time she said it.
Since I’m handing out brickbats, I should send out a bouquet, however, to the newsreader on the BBC’s World Service in the early hours of this morning(NZT), who said Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s name with only two slight hitches. Given that local journalists seldom get further than ‘Tuilaepa’, and often leave it simply as ‘the Samoan Prime Minister’, I think the gentleman in question deserves some credit.
PS: Happy New Year to you and yours, Brian.
telling us about ‘nucyular’ capacity …
Ah, but it’s a “Mispronunciation” That may be fine…
JC: Thanks, Steve – nice linguistic link.
“English-as-a-first-language”… isn’t that we should expect?
(Or have I misunderstood the concept of “English-as-a-first-language”? I assumed it meant the language one was brought up speaking and therefore might be expected to have mastered it before embarking on a career as a television presenter. Of course, all that’s required these days is a straight nose and blonde hair, both of which can be acquired from salons in Parnell.)
Hmmm..did you understand what they were communicating? If so,haven’t they succeeded in doing that which they are there to do?
JC: I thought they were there as professionals. Would you accept random grammar and spelling in your newspaper? Oh, wait…
And surely the prerequisite for a professional communicator should be that they not write such mangled English as “a complete twits of oneself”. At least the newsreaders have the excuse that they are performing live, when a simple read back through your copy should have picked up your mistake.
We all make mistakes, you, me, and TV3 newsreaders included. Try to be generous because no-one’s perfect.
JC: Thank you so much for that. No excuse, except that my proofreader was cooking sausages at the time. Anyway, I’m sure you feel much better now.
People seem so willing to accept bad English (and poor communiction) from professions which have, as the major tool of their trade, good English (and communication). But they wouldn’t be willing to put up with bad wiring from an electrician, would they?
I actually haven’t read past the first line of this post before I felt compelled to write. Have you ever actually LISTENED to 3 News? I do about once or twice a week when it’s simulcast on Radio LIve. They are the WORST for utterly cringeworthy puns, supposedly clever word associations and lame rhyme and repetition in their intros. TVNZ used to be bad at it about a year ago, but now largely desist. I think listening to the broadcast sharpens your aural receptors a bit and maybe you should try it. 3News’ 6pm bulletins survive on lame alliteration and word play. You actually can’t have been listening, just watching the eye candy Brian. OK now I will ready the rest of your post.
@ Peter Martin
What an appalling attitude to life! Just doing the job isn’t enough – or is that all upon which you judge professionals?
You’re happy that your taxi driver’s pissed but he got you to your destination in one piece, even though he knocked over a few road signs on the way? The pilot who lands your 747 on the green bit instead of the black one – but he still got you there? The surgeon who did your wife’s implants: they’re lopsided, cross-eyed and unbalanced, but what the hell – they’re both bigger so that’ll do.
There’s more to doing the job well than just fluking the desired outcome. Stop caring about pronunciation and spelling today, and tomorrow you won’t be able to converse with your grandkids because you won’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
Oops just realised the post was written by Judy. Same opinion applies though. But do try listening some day. It’s interesting. And yes 3 and One will have their B teams on deck. It’s been a big news year – I guess we should allow the A team a break and accept the B team are just that for a reason.
A thousand billion felicitations for the New Year.
It is abominable that there should be grammatical errors on the auto-cue screen, but I would be more forgiving when it comes to enunciation, because none of us speak the same way. The last thing we want our announcers to do, is to mimic their English counterparts. Do you remember, what ridiculous lengths the TV announcers went to, in affecting the posh pommy accent in the early days of television of the 1960s? And the worst example was the late Sir Keith Holyoake: all put-on airs and graces. Not only did he speak as if he had a
plum in his mouth, but a nectarine as well.
JC: Standard Southern English was mandatory for announcers in the 60′s, but the NZ version of SSE was an accent you heard everywhere. Just go back to some of the old newsreels – all the women sounded like the Queen. Incidentally, Holyoake’s accent wasn’t an affectation, though we all thought it was. His family all spoke exactly the same way.
I often hear critisism by Maori of European pronuncipation of Te Reo but that is nothing to the mangelling of English every day on New Zealand TV. In UK people are used to a wide variety of accents and dialects but not so in NZ. If no one is maintaining a standard that we can all look to, it won’t be long before New Zealanders will be unable to comprehend other New Zealanders, if this continues.
Nothing makes my skin crawl than hearing announcers bastardising the names of NZ’s provinces and towns, by pandering to Maori a la Jim Hickey. It sounds ugly as it is sickenly fawning. Why do they do it?
Every time you hear about a vile crime (Turangi camp ground), young kids being killed by their parents/relatives at home; vicious unprovoked assaults (Wellington journalist killed), armed hold-ups at petrol stations and banks etc, horrific road accident brought about by criminal-type driving (recently, Tauranga) gang violence associated with the distribution of drugs — who, exactly, do you think the offenders are?
Wow zinc…that’s not a bad leap: from the mispronouncing of a couple of words on a news broadcast to a surgeon mucking up my wife’s breasts implants whilst landing a 747 on the top of a pissed taxi drivers taxi.
I live in the south where not all words are pronounced as they are in the more erudite and cultivated north.
For example many folk pronounce the a flat. So Larnach’s castle becomes Larnach’s cassle.
I wonder how many folk, apart from your surgeon, wouldn’t understand what was being communicated? I wonder how many would suggest an error had been made and standards were…slipping?
‘Would you accept random grammar and spelling in your newspaper? ‘
And there’s the rub Judy. They are two differing forms of communication: oral and written. I would suggest that they aren’t always governed by the same strictures. One often reads folks’ replies to questions, arguments etc that are transcribed verbatim and are confusing at best, yet made perfect sense when heard in the first instance.
As I asked initially…mispronunciation or not, did you understand what was being said?
JC: I agree that written and oral language differ greatly, and in casual conversation anything goes. When I was writing for Shortland Street I had to turn off the spelling and grammar checks on my computer or the screen lit up like a Christmas tree.
But presenting the news is something quite different. This is formal spoken English, delivered from a script. And my beef wasn’t with the grammar on this occasion (though it often is!) but with the pronunciation. Newsreaders are professionals. If they’re not sure of the pronunciation of a word, they should look it up.
The problem with this type of discussion is that it degenerates into pedants’ corner. Walter, please note; there is the world of difference between someone who makes a ‘typo’ and those who are not only blissfully ignorant of their crimes against the English language but are either too stupid or arrogant to learn.
Why do you bother with the news on TV? The TV news programmes long since ceased to be for the purpose of information. They are now for entertainment and to capture the moronic element for the remainder of the evening.
Listen to Morning Report. Then switch on the radio at 4pm and listen to ‘the Panel’ which is always stimulating (incidentally JC, is it not about time you got an invitation to appear?) and then listen to Checkpoint. Who needs TV?
If that is not enough there are newspapers (if you belong to a library you can also access international newspapers on the Internet) and a wealth of information on the Internet if you are selective.
Totally off topic, I note again the absence of Dr Edward’s name on the honours list. I like to think that being a man of principle you have been offered one of the establishment’s baubles and have told the establishment what it can do with it.
JC: Dr Edwards already has a substantial bauble of which he is very proud – given to him by a National Government no less.
There is a difference between a regional accent and mispronunciation.
f I wrt a sntnc lvng out mst of th vwls, you wll stll b bl to ndrstnd wht I am sying, bt ths ds nt mn you wld wsh to rd an ntre bk wrttn in ths mnr.
Bad grammar/pronunciation does interfere with communication because the listener or reader is focusing on the gbh being done on the language rather than the message. That is why John Key has been so successful; everyone focuses on the way he speaks rather than understanding the lack of any substance in what he says.
Yes but it was put about for a long time that the current PM’s mincing of the language showed he was a genuine Kiwi and someone the general populace could relate to. The mainstream TV news gnomes are quick learners at least.
WOW. It doesn’t take long for someone to drag John Key into any discussion. The guy has something going for him.
I stopped watching TVNZ news years ago as I felt they were treating us all like morons but now TV3 are slipping down the same path.Sigh.
OK Peter – a stretch.
But you can’t just watch error-creep and let it continue because in a very short period of time the error becomes the norm. Two examples: someone got too palsy with an American comptuer-geek friend some years back and started pronouncing the word “route” as “rowt”. Now half the country are doing it – and instead of school kids having to put up with the difference between “route” and “root” they now also have to take on the difference in meaning between “route” and “rout”.
When that well-known Scottish activist Ken McMair insisted Wanganui was misspelt, the local Iwi said the “h” SHOULD be there (though in a spoken language I can’t see any demand for spelling errors) but the locals didn’t pronounce it. So how is it that the trolls at TVNZ have never corrected their presenters from mis-pronouncing Wanganui as Funganui?
Regional differences aside the rules both verbal and oral must be adhered to, or we’ll end up speaking in tongues, even when we’re not in church. Teenagers are pretty much there already.
Zinc, oral language is in a constant state of flux. Written language tends to follow,albeit much later.
If you wish to speak like a pirate, because some folk from a region in Blighty once did…you can.Or you can speak like the BBC presenter that you heard decades ago.It really doesn’t matter a whit, so long as folk understand what you are communicating.
The rest of your comment is just garden variety bigotry and I’ll let you stew in your own juice.
The real problem is the poor standard of edumacation.
Errr….and written rules. So that’s verbal and oral, and written too! I told you we shouldn’t let standards slip…..giggle…
Dee said: “Have you ever actually LISTENED to 3 News?… They are the WORST for utterly cringeworthy puns, supposedly clever word associations and lame rhyme and repetition in their intros.”
No they’re not, TV1 is.
“TVNZ used to be bad at it about a year ago, but now largely desist.”
No they don’t – they’re still at it.
“When that well-known Scottish activist Ken McMair insisted Wanganui was misspelt, the local Iwi said the “h” SHOULD be there (though in a spoken language I can’t see any demand for spelling errors) but the locals didn’t pronounce it.”
Nobody has yet called that bit of bullshit for what it really was.
Maori was an oral language; we came along and wrote what we HEARD – and we didn’t hear an ‘h’. Because they didn’t HAVE a bloody ‘h’.
‘we came along and wrote what we HEARD ‘
One one won one race
Two two won one too.
Go for it.
I note that you don’t have an ‘h’ in there either, Peter. How politically incorrect of you.
You’re wrong Peter. It was Tutu that won that other race.
JC: And I think Juan One who started it?
Today’s Christchurch Press reports mayor Bob Parker saying that footage of past earthquake damage used in overseas media coverage of Christchurch’s aftershocks is “irresponsible”.
Well, I’m fed up with it in the home-grown media. Just last evening TV3 news showed people shovelling sand and it took me a moment or two to recognise it as old footage and not from the latest big aftershock, which was the story it accompanied. The viewer is left feeling duped, and the news source loses credibility.
JC: This is a separate issue – and a very important one. Thanks for raising it. We’ll look at this after the silly season which has us blogging and commenting on a random basis.
I was with Ben on this discussion … for a while. TV News isn’t really about the news, or am I alone on thinking this? So, like Ben, I get my daily fix from Checkpoint on Radio NZ. But, oh dear. It’s holiday time and tonights ten minute edition was full of stumbles and stutters and it was cringe awful. For those who get their “news” from TV3 – don’t worry about it. Even Radio NZ suffers at this time of the year.
JC: But I do worry about it, No 11. This is the audition ground for those who aspire to 6 o’clock news. And it seem that no-one has mentioned to them that preparation for that auditioning is voice-training, a good knowledge of phonetics (so they can read pronunciation dictionaries) and a comfortable acquaintance with the English language and its centuries-old habit of absorbing words and terms from other languages. Dammit, Old English was based on Old High German! It’s a polyglot language and those who use it professionally must know and understand it. Tonight we heard “faytalities” on Sky News, which shows a complete ignorance of stress-shift.
It seems to me that ‘nucyular’ has become more used in New Zealand particularly since 1985 and the Lange Labour government’s ban on nuclear-armed and -powered and aircraft coming here. When I was in the US in 1985 it was the common pronunciation.
Perhaps 10 or so years ago TVNZ showed a bit of footage from Dunedin dating about 1971. In it, the then mayor of Dunedin, Sir James Barnes, said ‘nucyular’, and from memory, twice.
If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.
After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité
“It’s a polyglot language and those who use it professionally must know and understand it. Tonight we heard “faytalities” on Sky News, which shows a complete ignorance of stress-shift”.
Hmmm. The problem with the spoken aspect of any language is that it is often much more dynamic compared to its written equivalent. I know how I pronounce “The Grapes of Wrath”, but I’m not sure John Steinbeck would have agreed. Humankind has had a written form to augment verbal communication for about 6000 years. The invention of the printing press and the dictionary have maybe resulted in a level of “standardisation” over the last five centuries that is actually out of kilter with how people historically and instinctively change both written and verbal language to suit themselves.
Rap singers “use it (the English language) professionally”, and it is their instinctive ability to disobey the “stress shifts” that enables them to act as the front line shock troops of grammatical and pronunciation change. Then again, the evening news hasn’t yet degenerated to the point where John Campbell could get away with “My man John Key is pimping the country up for yo’ and yo ‘hos”!
Peter Martins and zinc’s exchange (“Wow zinc…that’s not a bad leap: from the mispronouncing of a couple of words on a news broadcast to a surgeon mucking up my wife’s breasts implants…”) echoes an interesting op ed piece of a few years ago, by the head of the Otago medical school (or something like that). He was lamenting many medical under-graduates’ general lack of basic grammar and syntax, such that the prospect of botched life-threatening medical treatments wasn’t so much of a long bow to draw.
I’d argue looking to preserve the standardisation of the written form (including accurate grammar) is the more important issue. Change in language, especially pronunciation is inevitable. However, I think two rules of thumb should apply for any profession (teaching, broadcasting/media, law, medicine, politics) where the upholding of standards of precise communication especially apply:
Can the intent of the communicator be clearly and unambiguously discerned?
Is the “upholding of a grammatical rule” (e.g, no split infinitives) for the purposes of preserving the discernment of unambiguous intent, or is it just one of those traditions that should be subject to evolution?
“To boldly go where no man has gone before…” may be grammatically incorrect. However, I’m struggling to see how it matters. As the practise (or is that practice?!) is now so widespread, the “rule”, in English at least, scarcely seems to apply. In other languages, however (and I’m familiar with a couple), it is impossible to “split the infinitive”.
JC: Split infinitives and hanging prepositions aren’t much of a problem in spoken English. Common usage eventually takes over. But I would expect NZ broadcasters to be skilled in the delivery of spoken NZ English – which differs from American English, Australian English, South African English and even Standard Southern English. Studios and newsrooms are (or used to be) littered with pronunciation dictionaries – NZ English, NZ Placenames, the ubiquitous Daniel Jones (Cambridge Pronouncing Dictionary) – and these days it’s all on line. It doesn’t take long to look up a word, and it’s a habit that lasts a lifetime!
Thanks Pedro – very good.
Putting that on my classroom wall!
“It doesn’t take long to look up a word, and it’s a habit that lasts a lifetime!”
True. However, I doubt that solves the problem practically. If a newsreader doesn’t realise they are mispronouncing, (to use your examples), “entreprenyure”, “nucyular”, and “faytalities”, why would they bother to “look it up”?
So now we are back to the issue of a change in “spoken NZ English” and the overall level of education/awareness from which broadcasters emerge.
Just thinking it through – why is it so important for broadcasters, JC? I’m not saying it isn’t – this is a regular theme and refrain of yours, so that is fair enough. Just struggling to see why.
You used the term “professional”. Are you implying that because a newsreader fails to pronounce “correctly”, this means there is the possibility of a perceived lack of credibility?
However, how can that be so when they are imitating “common usage” (to quote your phrase)? If a significant number of Kiwis pronounce the word as “faytalities”, then why is that not “skill in the delivery of spoken NZ English”?
JC: In the Arts, a professional is someone who is trained, qualified and talented. Actors, singers, artists and dancers go through years of training just in the hope of turning professional, and unless they reach the required standard and display the appropriate talent they will remain amateurs. Anyone who aspires to be a professional broadcaster should be heading to the best possible voice coach and studying the language as soon as ambition first bites. A journalism degree just doesn’t cut it. I have several qualifications in drama, not one of which makes me a professional actress – and I assure you that if you saw me on stage you’d agree wholeheartedly!
‘If a newsreader doesn’t realise they are mispronouncing, (to use your examples), “entreprenyure”, “nucyular”, and “faytalities”, why would they bother to “look it up”?’ If it’s an unfamiliar word it should be second nature to check the pronunciation. And pronunciation ‘howlers’ should be picked up and corrected immediately by seniors on the station. That’s part of their job. I’ve opened a can of worms with this one, haven’t I? Might do another post on this soon.
Anyone at anytime can spot other’s mistakes.
Re: As the practise (or is that practice?!)
It’s: “practice”; the noun, and “practise” is the verb.
The rule about not ending a sentence in a preposition no longer holds, because so many idiomatic expressions end in a preposition; and time has softened that rigid decree. Much has to do with the ear, when a good writer will know when a colloquialism is better than formal phrasing. Some infinitives improve on being split because it achieves cadence.
Compare: “A claw hammer, not an axe, was the tool he murdered her with”. This is preferable to “A claw hammer, not an axe, was the tool with which he murdered her”. The first sounds more violent, more like murder.
Written-English as with ‘Spoken’, is constantly evolving; and that’s why we need to be a bit more relaxed when we hear our announcers — seemingly — mispronouncing words. In the age of truncated communication, such as text messaging, JC can expect to be ruffled by more verbal violations of The Queen’s English.
Oh, and It’s: ‘undergraduates’, not “under-graduates”.
Thanks, Victor Marseuss.
Appreciate the heads up (or is that heads-up?) on undergraduate.
However, whilst the example you have given is a good example of ending a sentence with a preposition, I fear is is also plagiarism (again!), as per page 11 of the following.
…unless you are both Messrs Strunk and White, or they previously sought permission to quote you (in 1918!).
Happy New Year, markus.
@ Doug Coutts:
“Of course, all that’s required these days is a straight nose and blonde hair, both of which can be acquired from salons in Parnell.)”
Sal’s Salon located at the Otara shopping centre can straighten hair at a fraction of the price that those fancy high-priced Parnell salons charge; Sally Talofa can weave magic with her coconut oil and a bottle of Janola. Hell, she can turn a bouffant Afro hive’s nest into straight-as-a-dye shoulder-length in less than an hour. She’s that friggin’ good!
And for the “straight nose”, there’s ‘Jacob Finklestein’s Nose Straightener’ 3 shops down on the right of Sal’s Salon. No appointments required, just walk on in.
What grates on me about TV1 News is the very peculiar dramatic inflections they use, as if they were trying to express some sort of personal opinion or official line without actually saying so – quite appalling. The mangling of pronunciation is equally odious for TV1 and 3.
My favourite observation on the origin or English is that it’s what happens when Norman soldiers try to pick up Saxon barmaids.