Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm Sorry, What's Your Name?

Phoenix Coyotes LW Paul Bissonnette during After Hours.
In communication, writing well is only half the battle--you need to also be able to speak well.

Proper speech is tricky because colloquialisms and accents can hinder a person's ability to speak well or learn to speak well.

Ten Words Everyone Should Know How to Pronounce gives a small sample of words and phrases the majority of people mispronounce. Once you read this, you'll be surprised how many words you and those around you mispronounce and don't even realize it.

On a less serious note, the following video is another great tool for learning proper pronunciation. Hank Green, nerdfighter and one half of the VlogBrothers, talks about some commonly mispronounced phrases and words. Watch and avoid some easily avoidable embarrassments. Plus, it's funny as hell.


When I mispronounce a word, I make sure to correct my mistake aloud. For me, this is a concrete reminder of my slip up and allows me to redeem myself.

A lot of the words and phrases we mispronounce go unnoticed because the fallacies are widely accepted. For me, it can be attributed to a small town upbringing; "Ain't," "got" and adding an "s" to the end any store name is common among the older generation in my hometown.

With that said, some mispronunciations can be nipped in the bud before they're ever a problem.

My biggest mispronunciation pet peeve is name mispronunciation. My last name, though a grand total of six letters and phonetic, is always slaughtered by professors and other acquaintances.

As a rule, if unsure how to pronounce someone's name, always ask. Asking is far less embarrassing than pronouncing someone's name wrong. If you don't ask, you'll never know.

This is a quality rule, especially because I want to work in the NHL.

Have you seen some of those players' names?

I always remember an incident from a college hockey tournament a few years ago. It was the banner raising ceremony for the winning team, and a local sports reporter was doing a post-game interview with the winning team's captain. Her interview was also broadcast in arena for the fans to hear.

In front of 20,000 plus fans and those watching at home, she butchered the captain's last name and didn't even know it. Once informed of her mistake, after the interview, she apologized and corrected it.

But the entire situation could have been avoided if she had familiarized herself with her interview subject and asked, beforehand, the pronunciation of his last name.

I'm still perplexed how she didn't know because she covers college hockey regularly and this guy wasn't a random fourth-liner who happened to score the game-winning goal. He was the team captain--the person the media flocks to and interviews often.

Moral of the story: do yourself a favor--ask.

Until next time...

Rock out, kiddies!

- Jasmine

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