Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Voices'

Mangled English on 3News

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m going out with a snarl.

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…


So Here Is The News

The little word ‘so’ has recently taken on a new meaning for New Zealanders. People have started using it as a space-filler at the beginning of an answer, in the same way that they use ‘well’.  In reply to the question, ‘How are you going to get the country out of this recession?’ you might have heard:

‘Well, we’re going to kick-start the economy by selling off the Southern Alps.’

Now you may hear:

‘So, we’re going to kick-start the economy by exporting beneficiaries.’

This sounds a bit odd – and it is a bit odd.  Starting a sentence this way turns ‘so’ into a type of conjunction and implies that you are expanding on or explaining something that has preceded it:

‘Social Welfare is costing too much and we need more exports, so we’re going to…etc’

But in this strange new construction nothing has preceded ‘so’. You’ve got a conjunction hanging in mid-air with nothing to join up.

‘What are you doing for Christmas this year?’

‘So I was just saying to Nigel that we should consider going to Afghanistan.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Hurrah for Harold Harris! A Guide to Speaking Sainsbury.

Once upon a time aspiring radio and TV stars were sent off for voice coaching before they were allowed to pollute our airways. At the very least they had to have pleasant voices and excellent diction.

No longer. Our TV screens are now populated in prime time by young women whose voices could etch glass at 40 paces and men who happily mangle the language to the point of incomprehensibility.

My current personal favourite is the new dialect of Sainsbury, to be heard on Close Up most evenings at 7pm. I’ve heard the odd Sainsburyism from news reporters on both One and Three and once, to my astonishment, from Mike McRoberts.  It’s clearly the coming fashion and we should all adopt it as soon as possible.

Visitors filling in time between World Cup matches may require help with translation before they can fully appreciate Close Up. They may be so impressed with what they hear that they want to start speaking Sainsbury themselves.  Here’s a little pronunciation guide for the uninitiated and the eager:

Harold – as in ‘Harold is that dodgy Toyota you’re selling?’

Harris – as in ‘Harris it that you can’t kick the damn ball between the posts?’

Hurrah – as in ‘Hurrah you, now that you’ve had liposuction?’

Harrever – as in ‘Harrever will you get that money out of the country, Mr Hotchins?’

Harroffen – as in ‘Harroffen will Hone hongi Willie before the election?’

Harrintristing – as in ‘Harrintristing! And where did you dispose of the body?’

Feel free to expand this guide – your contributions of any new Sainsburyisms are welcomed.

Next week: How to copy Key – an exercise in syllable reduction.


The President’s Speech

The horrors of training George W. Bush to speak English.


“The PM’s Speech” – A dramatic account of John Key’s struggle with prunciation!

Thanks to Greg Goodyer.



microphoneDear TV reporters, sports commentators and presenters,           

I want to let you into a little-known secret:  that thing you’ve got pinned to your lapel or clutched in your hand – that’s what we call a microphone.  A microphone is a magical device for picking up sound, and the sound it picks up best is the sound that is closest to it – your voice. 

So even if you’re surrounded by roaring crowds, or the camera is across the road, YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOUT, because your microphone is only centimetres away from your mouth.

It is bizarre to witness people who appear to be right in front of you yelling their heads off. Bizarre, annoying, unprofessional and totally unnecessary. It’s even weirder when it’s interspersed with voice-over commentary at a normal level. Read the rest of this entry »


From Wullington to the Southern Elps.

alpsNew Zealand vowels are becoming more centralised.  Oh, really (yawn), who knew?  Actually, this less-than-riveting piece of information explains quite a lot about the way our accent has shifted.

The most noticeable change, and the one most often commented on, is that most Kiwis pronounce “i” (as in “it) as if it were “uh” (as in “the”).  So you get the infamous “fush and chups” that Seedneesiders find so hilarious.

In spoken English lightly pronounced, unaccented vowels revert to this neutral “uh” sound, the schwa. That is, with the exception of “i”. So while rugged will be pronounced as “ruggud”, rigid should be pronounced as “rijid”. Except here, where you’ll hear it rendered almost universally as “rijud” or even “rujud”. And it would seem that none of us is immune.  Listen to our newsreaders.  With the exception of those on National Radio, the “i” sound is as flat as a pancake. Read the rest of this entry »


Violent Response

Rapid ResponseThere are quite a few TV programmes you can watch without the sound and not miss a thing.  It even improves the comprehensibility of some of them. Unfortunately Rapid Response isn’t one of these programmes.  Unfortunately?  Yes, because the true love of Brian’s life, our wide-screen TV, is in danger of being smashed by a large and heavy object every time I have to listen to the commentary on the programme.   Read the rest of this entry »


Heow Neow Breown Ceow?

microphoneI blame it on Shortland Street!  Once we learned to regard New Zild as an acceptable way of speaking, there was no stopping us.  Our accent has become stronger and more differentiated by the year.

As a student of linguistics I’m fascinated by the changes in our natural accent; as a voice coach I’m less enthusiastic.  It’s not the accent that bothers me, it’s what we’re doing to it.

New Zealand voices, particular those of young women, are becoming increasingly and unpleasantly nasal. This annoying nasal twang is epidemic in young female news reporters on television; Fran Dresler from The Nanny is positively mellifluent in comparison. Even one or two of our female newsreaders sound as though they have terminal sinusitis. Read the rest of this entry »