Monday, March 18, 2013

Where Did the Consonants Go?

I'm not sure why misuse of the language gets me fired up. But it does. I've been that way since I can remember. I guess it's what makes me the logophile that I am. Here's my latest rant on my belief that our language is being ushered down the porcelain facility.

I'm driving down the road recently when I tune the radio to the broadcast of a high school basketball game. I have no idea who was doing the broadcast or who was playing, except to say that one of the teams was nicknamed the "Spartans". A few seconds into my listening experience the young man (I say young man because he sounded young to me) calling the play-by-play says..."And the rebound goes to the Spar-uhns". And I said to myself..."What? The Spar-uhns?" I must not have heard him correctly. So I decided to leave the broadcast on the radio as I drove on to see if I misunderstood.

Sure enough, a few moments later out comes..."The Spar-uhns bring it up the court". So now I realize what I'm hearing is one of the quirks in modern speech that has been brought about by the younger generation's exposure to popular music and the so-called "Hip-Hop" culture. In this strange speech pattern, the consonant, usually a T, in the middle of multi-syllabic words gets abandoned in favor of a last syllable that starts with a vowel. No sooner did I realize this was what was happening in my basketball broadcast, than it happened again with a double whammy..."The Spar-uhns star-ing lineup features..etc.etc". Wow! This really got me going.

So I listened on. And as I drove along, otherwise enjoying the game description, this man-behind-the-microphone continued to treat me to variations on the theme.

"That long shot ra-uhls the rim." (rattles)
"Time will tell if the Spar-uhns can whi-uhl away at the lead." (whittle)
"This is really a heck of a ba-uhl going on here tonight." (battle)

Are you ge-ing where I'm coming from with this? When this kind of thing gets started, over a period of months/years/decades the population loses sight of what is correct pronunciation and what isn't. The language gets bastardized and the lowest-common-denominator street lingo somehow becomes acceptable.

Ladies and Gen-uhlmen, (oops) Please join with me to help put a stop to the dumbing down of our perfectly fine language into a collection of words that are misused and abused. I hope the next time you hear someone botching up a word or words in this way you will ask them to sit down in front of a playing of the recent movie Lincoln. Perhaps Daniel Day-Lewis and Mr. Lincoln's revisited speeches and stories can display what a precious tool, effective commodity, and lovely personality trait proper speech can be.

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