Sunday, November 04, 2007

Word Play

As I have said before, all the bloggers I know are skillful with the written word. It is perhaps the cart before the chicken crossing the road. By the very fact that they write a blog means they are reasonably confident with the written word. It is sad but true. No one with really bad word skills writes a blog. It is our loss.

I know my written English is not great. If you don't know where the apostrophe goes, it is not so easy to find out. My spoken is little better but I try. But I love language and words and accents. They have always fascinated me. I pester R with his opinion of regional English accents on tv. I concentrate on where a person comes from in a US tv show. Are they from the Bronx or Manhattan? I can't help but love a hot guy with a southern draw (ok, he may not have a southern drawl but I needed a link with colour).

But you can become a victim of your own word play, because I know I played a bit with the variety of my Ipod and now I am no longer sure if it is an Ipod Shuttle or Ipod Shuffle. Both are quite plausible. I think it is Shuffle, but I am not one hundred percent sure. Sheng fui started as a joke a long time ago, but I now use it all the time. It is amazing how few notice it, and no one ever corrects me.........except online.

Are words and language a new interest for me? No. It perhaps dates back to primary school when I was publicly humiliated by a teacher when I pronounced pictures as pichers. I then decided that this incident would not be repeated and that this business with words is important and I better take care with them. If there is a word I am unsure of, I keep my trap shut until I know the correct way to pronounce it. My friend in Japan will attest to me checking with her on the pronunciation of some Italian words.

A long time ago I wrote to the late author Stephen Murray-Smith about his just published book Right Words and received this very nice reply. I often wonder if his daughter is playwright Joanna Murray-Smith?


  1. Enjoyed the linguistic musings, Andrew. "If there is a word I am unsure of, I keep my trap shut until I know the correct way to pronounce it." I strongly identify with this. Sometimes though, I can't resist using a seen-but previously-unheard word so I preface "...I think it's pronounced..."

  2. Blogger just deleted my comment. SO annoying.

    I loved this post, especially the letter. Interesting about hiccough and hiccup. I have always said hiccup but I was born in that year.

    For the record, it's shuffle ;)

  3. You are going to love John Clarke's new show on the ABC, Thursday 8.30 where he talks about the Australian Accent.

    This word pronunciation was a real annoyance when I started getting back into science because the dictionaries don't put in how it should be spoken. I used to listen a lot and sooner or later someone would say the word I needed.

  4. Anonymous7:01 pm

    HI just discovered 'you' from Daniels site. You write well, I also have a fascination with words. I look forward to reading your blog from now on.

  5. I found it funny that he said he was delighted you were barely out of short trousers.

    (I call it "funk shui" and am quite incapable of saying it correctly anymore.)

  6. Hi Andrew

    You're a funny, funny guy, Mr Word Shy.



  7. Anonymous10:04 am

    Andrew, Interesting that you listen out for the differences in English regional accents.
    Our beloved BBC has gone PC mad now with it's fairly recently installed BBC Media accent/dialect.
    It was something that crept up on us over several years.
    I can barely watch the news now.

    What they have done is to use parts of the Northern English accent and combine it with the more BBC like southern accent.

    Presenters that were clearly born south of London are pronouncing certain words in a Northern accent, as if to please the northern part of the country. And the most ambitious of the presenters are really going over the top.
    Several of our top anchormen including David Dimbleby will have nothing to do with it, Nor Nicholas Witchell (TV Royal correspondent).
    Example is now Exaample. France is now Fraance. Command is Commaand, plus all the other one's Past, Fast, Last, Caste are now Paast, Faast, Caaste.
    They wont admit the changes. I think one would need to know someone on the inside. And I thought that Fox News was bad enough, telling it's employees how to think politically.
    The BBC really does think we are dumb.
    Of course I'll have to do a posting on it, after Iv'e thrown my tv out of the window!

  8. LOL, Daisy Jo took the words right out of my mouth :)

  9. Correct Lad. Nothing worse than confidently saying a word wrong.

    Age bragger Rosanna.

    Looking forward to that show Jah Teh. Yes, invariably you will eventually hear a word said, hopefully correctly.

    Thanks Tim. Most kind.

    Yes, I wasn't that young Daisy Jo. I can't remember exactly what I wrote. I will keep your version of the word for when I am bored with my present one.

    I take it this is a good thing Pants? Of course you are a pro....better add with words.

    Very interesting Deejohn. At least there is some variety. Our newsreaders are very homogenized.

  10. I like accents too... specially deep sexy Canadian ones lol

  11. Your better half is Canadian Jo? Or who are you thinking of?

  12. Anonymous5:06 pm

    You asked: "I often wonder if his (Stephen Murray-Smith) daughter is playwright Joanna Murray-Smith?
    Yes, she is. I'm currently preparing an article on Joanna on Wikipedia; it should be there in a few days.
    All the best, Michael Bednarek

  13. Thanks Michael. I will check it out in a week or so.