Enunciate, Chicago -- you'll spell better!

Enunciate, Chicago -- you'll spell better!
Source: Reusableart.com

When I read about the recent death of actor Theodore Bikel, I remembered him best as Zoltan Karpathy, "that marvelous boy" phonetics student of Rex Harrison's Prof. Henry Higgins in the movie "My Fair Lady."

Radio and newspaper obituaries for Bikel didn't mention that role, but did mention his facility with many different languages. (Note that "facility" doesn't mean a building in this case -- it's related to the French word facile, easy.)

I like finding filmed interviews with actors and finding their true voices, without put-on accents. It's the ones with the best diction, like Bikel, who I often find myself considering the best actors.

Diction is essential to being understood. If you are talking about someone who's formerly the executive director of XYZ Co., pronounce those Rs! Too many sloppy speakers will sound like they're speaking about someone who's formally in that job, not formerly.

 Usually is another word that gets treated badly too often -- or should I say usally? (No, I shouldn't -- nor should you!)

Pronounce every syllable, and you'll find yourself able to spell them more easily. Pronouncing all the letters will remind you what to do when you write down what you've said. It's just another way to use words well.

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  • "I'm gonna take da big Green to Goaty Steet."--Mare Daley I.

  • In reply to jack:

    Sigh. At least now the buses even "pronounce" Goethe properly. I can't vouch for "Moes-art" (Mozart!) Street, though.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    But that gets into the debate* on what is correct; the German pronunciation or the Chicago one? It sure isn't Devin Avenue.

    *On which I commented on chirish chatter.

  • In reply to jack:

    The street was named after the German poet, so (as I see it, anyway) it should be pronounced just like the poet's name. As for Devon Avenue, it's pronounced like the English county in my mind -- the Chicago version sounds like De Von to me. (What's that? I'm taking this too Seriously?)

  • Ugh. I had a phone interview of sorts recently. It was a survey designed to try to identify my personality to see if I would be a good fit at the company. I was told it would be a fast paced interview. I learned that "fast paced" is synonymous with marble-mouthed. Very frustrating.

  • In reply to Rick Bohning:

    Ugh indeed, Rick. Sorry for the frustrating survey. On the other hand, thanks for "marble-mouthed." It's more evocative than my usual description, "mush-mouthed" -- and there's a nice touch of Professor Higgins to it, as well.

  • Everyone, "The Rain in Spain, stays mainly on the plain. Once again..."

    Devon? Guilty as charged.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    "The Wake is Larger by the Lake"--BaBa WaWa.

  • In reply to jack:

    That's cute, Jack. Try as I might, I never heard a speech impediment from Barbara Walters. I guess that shows how great storytelling can come from even weaker voices. At least until "The View," which I avoided, I appreciated what she had to say. That must have kept me from how she was saying it. (Well, I just shot this whole post to pieces. Bye!)

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    BaBa WaWa wasn't Barbra Walters, although there was a very close similarity.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I recommend a British comedy team from the '60s, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. They contend in one routine that "In spite of what you may have heard, the rain in Spain stays almost invariably... in the hills."
    (As I suspected, that was hard to type!)
    As for Devon/De Von, you're forgiven... it's all in what everybody hears, and I was just trying to change the sound. (Again.)

  • I know I am joining this discussion a bit late but your post reminded me of a few things. One being: I am a native of Detroit and many of the streets have French names which Detroiters have totally cooked, seasoned, fried, drowned, ironed, and pulverized over the centuries! Secondly: I have fond memories of my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Lewis, who---in addition to teaching [us] American patriotic songs, "Negro" spirituals, multicultural holiday songs, and three-part harmonies---rarely missed an opportunity to admonish us "Eee-NUN-ci-ate, children! Please!" thanks for the memories.

  • Late? Don't worry! Thoughtful comments are welcome here anytime. I love your imagery for what's happened to the French names of the streets. Also, I think I picked up the word "enunciate" in (what passed for ) a choir at an early age. You're welcome for the memories, and thanks for mine.

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