Pronunciation and phrases – PET HATES!

1o November 2013. Once again, I have heard someone on the radio using a frightful expression: “She AUTHORED the book!” What is wrong with, “She WROTE the book!” Since when has “author” been used as a verb instead of a noun? Bad, as far as I’m concerned!!

My latest pet hate is “to NOT”!  Why are many respected South African writers and radio journalists using “to NOT”? The latest example of this appears in Times LIVE this very morning, “to not participate in a film”! Surely it should be “not to participate in a film”? One of my correspondents mentioned that he hears the same expression from friends living in the UK. Surely this expression makes habitual use of the dreaded split infinitive?  Answers on a postcard (or on this page) please!

I was having a discussion about annoying expressions and mispronounced words with some of my Facebook friends yesterday. What set me off was hearing a newsreader on Talk Radio 702 refer to an envoy as an ONvoy. For some reason this appears to be the received pronunciation for the word on this radio station as I heard  a senior and highly experienced newsreader using it later that evening. The Africa correspondent on the station is guilty of pronouncing envoy as ONvoy and irrevocably as irreVOCably. He is an experienced journalist and old enough to know better!

As a classical musician I am disturbed at the way some announcers mispronounce the names of composers, soloists and works when they advertise a symphony concert. Someone who gives the impression of being highly cultured and literary made an idiot of herself pronouncing the name of the composer, Antonín Dvořák. Admittedly it might be a difficult name if she didn’t know how to pronounce it, but she should have done her homework before she read the ad on the air.

Various broadcasters, who should know better,  freely make use of the following pronunciations: EELectricity, CAMbridge, CaTAGory, EuROWPean, IrreVOCable, instead of electricity, Camebridge, category, EuroPEAN and irrevocable. In the bad old days in South Africa, pre-1994, the English Service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation employed a language adviser, so if ever there was any doubt about how a word should be pronounced, she was there to help, and if she heard someone mispronounce a word, she was there to criticise and correct! Perhaps South African radio stations should consider employing such a person today before their supremely self-confident broadcasters mangle the English language any further.

Surely broadcasters should set an example to others with regards to correct pronunciation. English is not the first language of the majority of people living in South Africa, so they should not be misled by hearing bad pronunciation on the radio.

Irritating expressions:

At this moment in time – instead of now, or even at the moment

For free – Why not use free or for nothing?

At grass roots level

On the ground


Paradigm shift

I speak under correction

Have you any pet hates? Please let me know and I’ll add them here.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Philip Wood
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 00:10:13

    Pet hates – or sources of amusement. Almost universally in the UK, people now say “ON A regular/weekly/voluntary… BASIS” rather than “regularly/weekly/voluntarily…”. What’s wrong with good old-fashioned adverbs?

    I’m also amused by the very popular circumlocution “in excess of” for “more than”. [“There were traffic queues in excess of four miles long.”]

    The distinction between ‘as if’ and ‘like’ has now virtually disappeared. “It’s like I’m in a dream” is now generally regarded as fine. I can’t stand it, but one can’t deny that language evolves.

    A word which is almost always mispronounced is ‘dissection’. Both spelling and etymology dictate that it be pronounced with a short ‘i’ in the first syllable, and not as ‘die-section’.



  2. jean2371
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 12:42:48

    Thank you for adding some more pet hates to the list, Philip!



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Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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