What’s Missing?

What’s Missing?

During the last month or so I’ve heard a lot of people speaking. What fun for a communication junkie! The political conventions provided many speaking styles, speech patterns, and delivery techniques to observe, and many examples of things to mention in Presentation Skills or Watch Your Language! classes, of which Language at Work has several.

Most of the speaking to which I was a listener had as a purpose, to persuade. As we know, a strong persuasive element is to be seen as appealing or likeable. What makes someone appealing or likeable is not the same for every listener, of course, altho there are probably some common elements. For many, some important ingredients in likeability are competence and credibility, and for some of us a competence and credibility ingredient is language use. Okay, maybe only for me.

To me, ability to use our language respectfully and carefully is a very good thing, and by this I don’t mean that I require people to use big words or to speak in long sentences. But I do mean that I like to hear pronounced correctly whatever words the speaker has chosen, and I really like to hear them strung together in sentences. During the conventions I gave up on the sentence expectation. Apparently it’s hard to keep one’s point in mind and follow it through to an ending punctuation mark. But I did entertain myself when Methods of Persuasion began to sound the same by listening to pronunciation.

(I do realize how weird this sounds.)

But, here’s what I heard: many words were pronounced without all of their syllables, to wit:

– Presdent, instead of president.

– Particuly, instead of particularly

– Innersting, instead of interesting

– Opportuny, instead of opportunity

– Definly, instead of definitely

These omissions may mean nothing to most people, but having watched students discover and struggle with the confusing relationships between pronunciation and spelling, I am a little impatient with the carelessness of those who presumably know better. Many of the people who attend Language at Work classes do so in hopes of becoming better speakers, more accurate spellers, or more careful writers. They do so because they understand that knowing and using language correctly is an invitation to others to see them as what most of the convention speakers assume about themselves: competent and credible.

So, what’s missing?