to Poor Writing
Q. A political candidate keeps saying
"WARshington" in his radio ads, instead of "Washington." It makes him sound
stupid, since he's pronouncing an extra letter in a word that's obviously not
there. Why are even well-educated people so sloppy in their pronunciation these
speech is reflecting the erroneous reading and writing instruction that has
become so common in our schools over the last several decades. That instruction
ignores or minimizes phonics -- the power of our sense of sound - even though
sound is preeminent in the English language.
words appear to be spelled funny to today's students, but the truth is, people
in the olden days used to pronounce their words much more accurately, and so
today's relaxed, casual pronunciations leave letters out that used to be
schools ignore the sounds that the letters make in pronouncing words, and
instead seek to teach students how to read and write in silent mode, using their
sense of sight and that's about it, they are setting kids up to be poor
spellers and poor writers.
children don't "hear" the letters individually and precisely, they are more
prone to reverse their order, leave letters out, and put letters in that
shouldn't be there. Result: pronunciation errors. Of course, that's natural in
the toddler years. It's cute to hear a small child say "pa-sketti" for
"spaghetti," and so forth.
when mispronunciation is not corrected, and language isn't taught with the
tools of decoding and understanding that come from making the correspondences
between words written with letters in a particular order, and the sounds they
make when spoken aloud, then both spelling and reading comprehension suffer
tremendously. The brain is literally not "remembering" words correctly, because
it didn't "hear" them correctly in the first place.
same thing goes when a person says "nu-cu-lar" for "nuclear," "aks" for "ask"
or "ree-la-tor" for "realtor." The technical term from linguistics for what
they are doing wrong is metathesis,
or transposing sounds. It wreaks havocs with everything from your spelling, to
your ability to persuade others in meetings and speeches, to other people's
opinion of your intellectual ability.
does mispronunciation come from? A lack of listening skills caused by the
failure to teach children to use sound in language. Coupled with the
over-reliance by grade schools on teaching kids to silently sight-read instead
of sounding out words, it's easy to see how mispronunciation can become so
can't pronounce what you haven't heard. It's tough to spell a word that you
don't "see" clearly in your mind's eye, because it isn't stored accurately in
your memory banks. It isn't, because for decades teachers have not been
teaching students how to read and write based on sound. Until they do, many
people will struggle with mispronunciation.
that's a . . . durn shame.
The best way to help a child pronounce words correctly, which leads to better
spelling and reading comprehension, is to talk to the child a lot, and face to
face. Let the child see your lips as you speak. Concentrate on making your own
pronunciation crisp and clear. Here's just one more reason among many to
minimize or ban TV: kids learn to mumble, mispronounce and slur their words
because that's all they hear on TV.