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.
For more fun with words, stop by the Margaret Serious page on Facebook.
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