Monday, February 20, 2006

Accent grave, problem 

I am amazed by how many comments my article on English skills continues to receive. In the campus paper, a student points out a big pronunciation problem.
I'm not one who is fresh from the farm, whose only exposure to another culture is the interaction with the person running the local convenience store. In my world travels, I've worked projects with a wide variety of ethnic groups and diverse societies so I have heard "the mother tongue" with numerous dialects. This has given me an ear for extracting the basic information. The breakdown comes when technical jargon is added to the presentations. This is where articulate speech is crucial to the learning process. Believe me, I always enjoy the occasional misuse of expressions. Recently a professor described e-commerce online stock traders as "jacking-off the price." (I think the intended word is "jacking-up".)
That's not technical jargon, that's slang, either way. I have a few younger, internationally born professors who have mistakenly used a slang term that causes titters in the room (for instance, one thought 'hot' meant simply 'cute' rather than implying a desire for intimacy.) I'm still unimpressed by the claim that these faculty are especially odious, and I will continue to assert that if state university students expect low tuition, they would be wise not to limit the pool of potential faculty from which we can draw their teachers.