Friday, October 10, 2014

The Degradation of the Spoken Word

C has always been a bit behind in speech, but since he's always made some progress the Pediatrician wasn't worried. Then the Dr retired and since he kept making small progress, I let it go. Now that he's started school, a fresh set of eyes, or rather ears has come into the picture, his teacher, Ms J. 

She called me after the first week to discuss his enunciation/diction. He can, but rarely makes the consonants sounds made in the back of the mouth. For example he usually says /t/ instead of /k/ and /d/ instead of /g/. He can make the sounds but not consistently, and rarely does. He also talks very fast and words slur together. So she asked if he had any speech therapy or any physical condition to inhibit his speech. Since he's had neither, she's recommended him for an assessment and possibly therapy. 

So while we wait, I've been even more aware of my own speech around him. Since then I've noticed some deficiencies in my speech, mostly due to laziness. Of course I wondered if others were the same way and in listening to people around me, I'm finding many others are the same, even public speakers.

Here are the three things I've noticed recently and am trying to work on. 

A simple word. It rhymes with or/snore/more. Except for many of us, it no longer does. Rather than saying 'for' ending in 'or' we are saying 'fer' ending in 'er'. I'm not sure why so many of us do this. It's not really much extra work with the muscles in our mouth to say it correctly. It does require a slight bit more rounding of the mouth but not really much in the grand scheme of things. And I don't see people saying 'fer' instead of four. In any of the other words that rhyme with it, we're also saying correctly but for some reason, not this simple word that we use regularly throughout the day.  

So this is a contraction, rather than a regular word. I get that we like contractions, a bit simpler to say we're instead of we are. Even then, myself and others I hear throughout the day are saying were not we're.

This ones is less of a pronunciation issue than I think a pure lazy issue. It used to be just kids would say 'cause instead of because. Now I find that the shorted version is making its way into every day speech. 

Listen to yourself. Do you say for or fer? What about we're  or were? Do you drop the first syllable in because? How about those around you? 

I don't know if we're more lazy in speech because we use it less, or just careless. We send text messages instead of phoning someone. We use shorted versions of words and acronyms in our emails in ways we rarely did in traditional paper mail. 

I'm practicing and having to make an effort to say it correctly. I challenge you to do the same! 

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