You claim that over the past few years there has been a shift in stress on a certain class of words among newscasters. This is not something I’ve ever noticed, so I can’t assess this claim. That would require lots and lots of archived news broadcasts, a careful ear (or good technical equipment), sound statistical and data sampling techniques, and a lot of time.
But even without being able to assess the claim, I can answer your two questions. No, they were not all educated in some Deep South School of Enunciation, and no, they are not just idiots.
For even if your claim is true, a shift in pronunciation does not entail idiocy. Not articulated in your post although, in my opinion, implied, is that initial-syllable stress for some words is associated with certain lower-class dialects of English (PO-lice and CE-ment come to mind). However, I think you, like many, make the mistake of associating these pronunciation features with mental deficiency. But in reality, they’re only “mispronunciations” with respect to the reference dialect, standard English. And standard English is only standard because, through historical accident, it is the dialect associated with the dominant social class.
Try arguing on whatever grounds you think are appropriate that de-FENSE is a “better” pronunciation than DE-fense. I don’t think it’s possible.
It’s more aesthetically pleasing, for one. Also, the use of standard English is a sign that the person using it is interested in communicating in a fashion both more understandable and more amenable to others who speak standard English. The more language is permitted to drift, the likelier that there will come a time when two English-speakers with different location or status will find one another irrevocably incomprehensible.
Dunno about the OP’s claims, but talking-head stupidity continues, as witnessed in the ‘Today Show’ that aired earlier this week, wherein Katie Couric was unable to pronounce ‘barrista’, and was uncertain as to what this occupation actually was. Not too disconnected, are we dear?
No. I’ve come across fellow Brits that I’ve barely been able to understand. Not without the same level of acclimatisation that’s necessary for l33t-speak. Was I speaking the right way, or were they? And why?
In this case I’m talking less about pronunciation and more about structure. I’ve spoken with people who thought “right she” was a standalone sentence. Even taken in context, I can derive no meaning from that, and I half doubt their fellow netspeekers could do better. It seems to me that the overall trend is to lessening of meaning, and deviation from an accepted standard of pronunciation exacerbates this.
I have no information on which one of you was more correct, if either. I don’t know in cases with which I am unfamiliar what the standard should be, but I maintain that there should be one.
No, you are missing the whole point. I find that the most aesthetically pleasing pronunciation and the most standard or “intellectual-sounding” one coincide in all cases I can recall. I enjoy speaking and hearing the standard pronunciations more than most nonstandard ones. I am not making a causal chain here; thus I cannot be said to have a circular argument, as this assumes the existence of an argument intended to be linear in nature.
:dubious: Bolding mine.
Sure, language and dialect mutate. But the important function of language is communication. One must strike a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and the constancy of change. I argue that “DEEfense” is an atrocity that has no valid cause to exist under this ideal.
I’m not sure whether this is true. Is this based on empirical observation of a statistically valid sample of the social groups you mention?
Even if it is true, you are confusing spoken language with mere orthographic innovations. A non-instant-messenger-savvy speaker of standard English may not understand written forms such as “lol”, “brb” or “g2g”, but they would certainly understand the spoken equivalents. Even if oral forms such as “ell-oh-ell” or “bee-are-bee” managed to work their way into the language of fourteen-year-olds, we’re talking about a dozen or two new lexical innovations. Mere pennies in the bank of linguistic change.
This is based on my having participated in both kinds of conversation many times.
I illustrate with some choice examples of things used as standalone sentences by young fools of my acquaintance:
but to too”
“ok kool well we will get to now onther”
From a slightly more coherent being:
“funn lol so yea”
“i c lol ur a vert boring person”
Coherent written English and netspeek are two very different animals.
I certainly didn’t.
Who are you to tell me I was trying to judge? Did the “YMMV” fly right over your head and off into the wild blue yonder? Also, a discussion about aesthetics is by nature subjective.
People have been making this claim for centuries, about many languages. Classical Latin, for example. And yet I see no evidence that people are able to communicate any less effectively in, e.g., Spanish and French, two of the languages that Latin “decayed” into.
Okay, fair enough. But my whole point in asking the question about which sounded better was to suggest that there are no objective grounds for that. As you say, you associate one form with intellect. And I maintain that this association is an arbitrary historical accident.
I read them all quite easily. However, they are less than communicative. For example, please translate for me the meaning of “right she” as a sentence. It is composed of two correctly spelled English words, but has about as much semantic meaning as “A BABE FEE OUGH HUT VI”. (if you’re interested, that was an anagram of “tvgfhaeuaoiueebbh”)
. My perspective on the matter is that no one’s perspective on this matter is going to be changed by anyone else’s well-reasoned logical sequences. My personal standards of what language should be, which are often arbitrary and filled with quirks, turn up their nose at mis-stressing of words. Evidently there are many who disagree with this. Their disagreement evokes an emotional response in me which causes me to put forth my own views.
No. I don’t, intrinsically. The fact that others do is why I included the phraselet at all. In fact, what I associate with intellect is the willingness to use standard English - not for its aesthetic value but because it is standard. Its being standard does not give it any inherent value above any nonstandard variant, but the standard exists in order to give order and meaning to the language, and cannot be wantonly dispensed with.
You know, if you really want to support your own point, you should be writing your argument in netspeek. Except that that would destroy your chances of being read by most people.
I don’t believe that Spanish and French are “decayed” from Latin. I don’t believe that they have any less structure. However, if there is a structure in the way a certain computer-using subset of humanity speaks, I have yet to discern it other than in the faded, tattered remnants of the English grammar they flagrantly disregard.
I have never said that there are objective grounds for a particular standard being the standard. However, there are objective grounds for the existence of a standard. I would be very interested in hearing anyone dispute this rationally.