Tar Far? What’s In a Pronunciation?

Who’s to blame when a news reader mispronounces a name?
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RTDNA’s Communicator has been having a fun yet serious continuing discussion about news people mangling words, “Mispronunciations on Air: Tales of ‘Juan de Fuca’ & More.”

Started by Mark Willis, RTDNA Region 6 coordinator, in the original article, “Why Am I Hearing More Mispronunciations on Air?” Willis thought he was hearing too many news readers mispronouncing the names of local streets and towns. He felt that the trend represented a failure of “Journalism 101” and a disconnect between news personnel and local listeners and viewers.

Most of the mispronunciations involved local idiosyncrasies with what would appear to be standard names to most people. The news reader, usually new to the area, hasn’t boned up on local exceptions to expected pronunciations. Perhaps a news director, station management or other veteran should have apprised him or her of the peculiarity, Willis says there was no excuse for not learning the pronunciation of oddly spelled names.

Willis also took to task news readers with very local or regional accents that people hailing from outside the area might not completely grasp. Though one could argue that that brings up the “homogenization of America” question. Or the perfect world where everyone is Fred Graham and can speak with a beautiful regional accent yet still pronounce everything so that it is fully intelligible to everyone.

Naturally Willis’ excursion engendered a great number of contributions (and a few tut-tuts from the vocally perfect) along with the discovery of some (very useful) websites collecting correct pronunciations of often mispronounced names.


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