An English tutoring column by Ralph Schatzki who would like you to join him
in the task of saving the language, step-by-step, word-by-word, one person at a time.
The Spoken Word -Saving English One Word At A Time with Ralph Schatzki. In this topic, we will
talk about a couple of common mispronunciations, where a word is spoken improperly.
The Spoken Word
Here I'll deal with a couple of common mispronunciations, where a word is spoken improperly.
In written form these might very well be used correctly, however, so the issue is not incorrect
usage, but rather incorrect speaking.
"Thee" verses "Thuh"
The first of these is the word "the."
"The" can be pronounced two different ways,
"thee" and "thuh," depending solely on the word that follows.
If the following word begins with a vowel sound, one uses "thee;" with a consonant sound,
So, it's "thee elevator," or "thee hour,"
but "thuh book" and "thuh house."
This is simply for ease in speaking, because to say "thuh" followed by a word beginning
with a vowel sound requires the speaker to make a guttural sound like a grunt.
What gets me, though, is how often people simply use "thuh" all the time, disregarding this rule.
So, we hear "thuh order" or "thuh umbrella."
The other involves the consonant cluster "str." So many people's tongues are so confused these days,
you'd think everyone spoke German as their first language, all we hear is "shtr."
"Shtraight, shtreet, shtrong..." It's ridiculous.
Make The Right Choices
Of course, many people are unaware of these in their (or others') speech, many more don't care, while still
others think their way of pronunciation is right. I'm not the pronunciation police, but I do want to make
people aware so that they can make their choices.
A proofreader, editor, author, math teacher and tutor, professional opera singer, ex-lawyer (by his own choice), sports fan, husband and
father. He has lived on both American coasts, as well as in the southwest and midwest, and overseas in Thailand for more than thirteen
years. He loves to read, write and perform, to watch sports, and to spend time with his family.
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