Merrick Needham, Contributor
For the second time within a week, I feel it necessary to correct the 'correcters'. First, there was the well-intended but quite inaccurate letter from a Gleaner correspondent, Mr Richard May, accusing the Canadian High Commission of dissing our national flag.
Now there's a generally commendable letter to the editor from J.E. Carter in The Gleaner of September 17, in which the writer corrects a good dozen or so words which are mispronounced more often than not.
However, Mr/Ms Carter includes one incorrect 'correction'. In the word 'condolence', the accent should NOT be on the first but on the second syllable, i.e., 'conDOHLence'. For verification, just check the current issues of the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. In neither British nor United States English is stress on the first syllable recommended.
Second, while Mr/Ms Carter is correct in criticising the pronunciation of 'Saint' as 'Sin' when used as a prefix in some parish names, e.g., St Andrew, the British English and traditional standard Jamaican correct usage is 'Snt', not 'Saynt', which is the United States and, possibly, Canadian style.
Nonetheless, as I indicated earlier, J.E. Carter's other corrections are commendable. May I add a few others? The hideous 'enTROPeneur' for 'entrepreneur'; emphasis should always be on the first, not second syllable, and how so many Jamaicans (I've never heard this one anywhere else) can turn what should be a throwaway 'e' into a short 'o' quite baffles me.
Next is the nearly universal mispronunciation of the name of the EXIM Bank as 'eggzim'. The bank may well offer financial support to the poultry industry, but even so ... .
Then there is the ever-increasing syllable mis-stress in the verb 'register', on the second, instead of the first syllable, thus producing 'regISTer', instead of 'REGister'.
Overall, well done, Mr/Ms Carter, and well intended Mr May, but when trying to correct the incorrect, one must first be very sure of the correct form. The same applies to publishing historical and other information.
In an otherwise admirable article, 'Vets fight on' by Gleaner writer Angelo Laurence on Page A2 of last Saturday's Gleaner, Mr Laurence stated that many Jamaicans "... made the ultimate sacrifice while being members of the British military fighting the Nazis during the wars (WWI, 1914-1918; WWII, 1934-1945)".
First of all, Nazism didn't even exist until 1920, and effectively, the following year when Adolph Hitler took over the Nazi party, i.e., two to three years after the end of World War I. Second, that war was triggered by the assassination of the heir of the emperor of Austria-Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and after a month of tense negotiations between all the major European powers, it was the government of the German emperor (or kaiser) which started the war on August 1, 1914.
Mr Laurence's starting date for World War II is four years early. The universally accepted date is 1939, certainly not 1934.
This may have seemed a rather long piece, but there is so much slippage in the standards of three or four decades ago that I hope a little help might be appreciated. And don't think it's only here in Jamaica. A day or two ago in a news story about the Pacific island of Tuvalu, the BBC World television newsreaders repeatedly mispronounced the word as 'TUvalu', until eventually their one male Afro-British newsreader came on and correctly said, "TuVAHlu!"
Merrick Needham is an expert in matters of protocol. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.