Let's Speak English
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FIRST TALK - PRONUNCIATION
We introduce this evening the President of the Brighter English League in the first of his four* talks on the English language.
These talks are intended primarily for those who already know English but who would like to perfect their grammar, their pronunciation and their idiom.
We hope that the talks will also provide entertainment for our regular listeners to the English programmes.
Now I think, English is a very simple language, especially its pronunciation. Let's take the letters O-U-G-H ; they're pronounced 'owe', as in 'though'. I admit you get irregular pronunciations occasionally such as 'ow' as in 'plough', or 'oo' as in 'through', or even'off' as in 'cough' and 'uff' as in tough. But on the whole, I maintain that English pronunciation's quite simple. You've only got to learn each word separately by heart - and there you are. Between ourselves, Englishmen can't be bothered about rules - except, of course, in cricket.
The only really difficult letters in English are T-H. But they're very important letters. Think how many delightful words begin with T-H 'thanks' - and 'theatre', and 'thirsty'. I hope you'll realize that unless you can pronounce T-H properly you'll never really be able to enjoy life.
Many people just give it up and prnounce T-H as D. "Dis is better dan dat". But that's apt to cause a certain amount of unpleasantness. Perhaps some of you have heard of the man who was asked his age and that of his wife. He meant to say that his wife was thirty. But actually he said "My wife's dirty, and I'm - dirty-two". So you see how important it is to pronounce T-H correctly.
Other people pronounce T-H as S. Sometimes that's also embarassing. Suppose, now, you get leave from the office for your - grandmother's funeral and spend the time instead at a football match. Suppose, next day, you start to tell your colleagues all about it. Suppose you try to say that the crowds at the football match were very 'thick' and you say instead they were very 'sick'; well - your colleagues'll get quite the wrong impression.
Some of my friends pronounce T-H as Z. I met a lady the other day in Jerusalern who said "Zis week, I asked zem if zey would go to ze zeatre".
I was so fascinated by her pronunciation that I sat and listened to her talking for half an hour. But her pronunciation was highly infectious and, for days
* It was intended originally to give only four talks.