2008-03-13

Down. Word. Dog.

The Irregulars have been all over the Word Cop thing, and I have watched with yellow-eyed jealousy. Yet my oppositional defiance disorder has been playing up big-time, so there's no way I'm slavishly following the pack. But. Grammar rants are soooo tempting. And the material soooo rich. So I've decided to bite Mother Corp's ass on pronunciation. Close enough.

We coyotes wake up darned early in the morning. Given our druthers, we like to eease into full awareness with our eyes closed for a bit, listening to the dulcet tones of the CBC announcers who read the early morning news and financials before 6 a.m.

More than a few mornings recently, my sleepy eyes have jarred open in outrage and shot lightning of a kind normally reserved for pre-migraine auras, as those dulcet CBC tones egregiously jackboot certain words. Repeatedly. Word has it that Mother Corp used to have a pronunciation guide, and woe betide the dumb rookie who blew off that part of the exam. But it seems that things have gone to hell since Lister Sinclair booked it, apparently somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Sure, I'm cranky about it. I'm enough thousands of semi-mythical years old that I've earned the right.

Ottawa Morning's news guy has a cringe worthy speech impediment that causes him to utter the word DEE-fence repeatedly when speaking of things related to this country's armed forces, while the woman from Calgary who covers gas and oil drops frequent clangers about Alberta's REE-source management.

This is just wrong on so many levels. For one thing, Alberta hardly manages its resources lately, it sells gargantuan quantities of them at fire sale prices to ingrate, mostly-US-based multinationals. I digress. We'll speak of the true definition of 'stewardship' another time.

The Oxford Big Word Thingy, Canine Edition, above, or any other Canadian dictionary, is clear on this point, dammit! Defence. Resource. Neither is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. Unless you were concussed in peewee hockey and have since watched way too much of that sterling grammarian, Don Cherry on TEEvee. Unless your name is Bubba from Alabama and you drive a NASCAR veeHICKle. Or unless you're George Bush. But even the people that elected him have finally realised he's an idiot.

I'm just sayin'.

9 comments:

Aggie said...

You are top dog, Coyote, what can I say...

Woodsy said...

So, you are a language snob too... That is what Dwarfie labeled me not so long ago when I suggested he not use the joual that I was teaching him with his mining buddies...

coyote said...

Aggie: Blush.

Woodsy: I'm all kindsa snob, ma'am!

4th Dwarf said...

All kindsa snob, for sure!

Coyote is a:
- language snob,
- coffee snob,
- chocolate snob,
- tea snob,
- biscotti snob,
- bread snob,
- music snob,
- stereophonics snob,
- and more.

On the other hand, he's not that particular who he hangs out with.

coyote said...

Lucky for you, Blackie, quoth the kettle to the pot....

Anonymous said...

i work for the cbc, and i can confirm that the pronunciation guide still does exist, as part of the general language guide, which is maintained on a national level by judy maddren (of world report). there is also usually one regional person who's the locally designated language police too.

that does not mean we have the resources for someone to sit and listen to all broadcasts, picking out the mistakes, but generally there are hints and reminders sent out, and that sort of thing.

thing is, these days on-air newsreaders and hosts and reporters tend to come from other backgrounds first, and then are thrown onto the air. old-school announcers were, of course, drilled with diction lessons from an early age.

so if you haven't been on the air until the age of 32, it's sometimes hard to rid yourself of old speaking habits. and the cbc, unfortunately, doesn't have the time or money to isolate these people in booths for months, making them work on their pronunciation.

truth is, very few people complain about these things, and the anger with which they write their complaints does not help the cbc to take them very seriously. we get so much mail, most of it directed to content as opposed to delivery, that when people call or write in an enraged, this-is-the-end-of-the-world kind of way, it isn't very convincing.

there is a whole larger issue about the changing face of our spoken language and reflecting different voices and all of that, but i won't get into it now.

coyote said...

Ummm, so if I read you correctly, you're saying I'm not coming off as too pissed about this, because you're willing to take me seriously enough to reply. Just as I take the CBC seriously enough to write a frothing blog post on two words.

I agree that mispronunciation and mucking with the language aren't the end of the world. You'll understand that comment thoroughly if you've read many of my past posts. I also agree that the language is always changing. Yet ours so often changes to mimic the patterns of the country south of us. And it still jars some of us, despite the constant flood of cultural overflow spilling over the 49th parallel, steadily eroding the (former?) Canadian norm.

Elegance is a matter of taste. But intelligence in many if not all things it approaches is one of the reasons I listen to CBC instead of one of the private broadcasters whose morning shows feature three guys (or two guys and a token chick) bellowing potty jokes and unconvincing HAR! HAR! HARs! for three hours.

CBCS is a pleasure to listen to on many levels - sounds as well as content - so it disappoints when such standards fail. I expect you've heard this one before, but it bears repeating - if Canada's public broadcaster isn't a major steward of national identity in such seemingly insignificant things as well as the large ones, then how's a kid in a place like Pickle Lake or Hythe or Skookumchuk going to tap into these bits of identity and absorb them?

4th Dwarf said...

Coyote, glad you've smoothed things over with the CBC. (Question: do you know how to use the words defeat, deduct, defence and detail all in a one sentence?)

After you get these folks accenting the right syllables, maybe you could get them on to reviving Canadian words that are dying out, like chesterfield.

I take solace from our anonymous CBC employee friend that we're not alone in experiencing word rage. It's funny because just yesterday I ran across a posting on another blog purporting to offer treatment for us.

(Answer: Defeat of deduct went over defence before detail.)

coyote said...

Treatment? Jeez, Shorty, those guys are a complete, Bell Curve-bashing statistical anomaly -- bigger wankers than us!