I live a life riddled with mistakes. Some are small, bordering on negligible. Some are pretty poofy. One of the bigger mistakes I’ve made is listening to voice recordings of myself. And thanks to online teaching being the hot new guy in Hollywood, my gross recorded voice is all over the show.
For me, the most disgusting part of these recordings is my accent. I’m not an English mother-tongue-er, although, as you can tell, I do not hesitate to neologism my way out of a tricky situation…or make verbs out of perfectly respectable nouns.
My disrespect of English rules of grammar aside, my accent is the stuff of nightmares. I thought it was pretty decent before the Great Hearing of the Great Recordings, but I was clearly delusional. But not one to leave tragedy as it is, I rummaged up some English pronunciation lessons on YouTube.
I’ve subscribed to one particular host, a lovely young woman who appears to be a real life English teacher. I play and replay her videos like an boy-band groupie. As it turns out, I make a loo-full of pronunciation errors but I’ve had some grand fun figuring it out. The girly teacher lovingly teases us pronunciation-perpetrators and is clear and repetitive and sweet in her teachings.
Then one day she uploads a serious video in which she sincerely apologizes…over and over…for making some people feel inadequate by unintentionally suggesting that mispronunciation represents lack of professionalism or refinement. She vowed to take down any video in which this has been a suggestion, and only upload content that is fair and considerate.
I searched my feelz banks for moments I felt insulted, seeing as though I pronounce like a schmeckel. Nothing.
Then I became a little scared. And then a lot scared. People have the fullest right to feel how they feel. In a world where far too many people are hated, discriminated against, looked down upon or just disrespected, we should actively encourage pride and the abolition of bias.
But do we get it all? Do I? Is it enough that I’m anti-racism, anti-anti-gay, respectful of differing political and religious views? I’m on a public forum here. How many words have I written that have made someone feel offended? I go out of my house in the mornings (well…you know…before COVID incarcerated a planet…), how many people do I offend by just being my stupid self?
Communication is not that hard for those who enjoy natural flair for clear speech and thinking. But what about the rest of us who use words like Storm from The X-Men uses the weather, to create facade before revealing the truth? Or those of us who hide truth in humor?
We no longer live in a world where you’re told to change the channel if you don’t like something on the TV. And thank goodness for that.
But it does increase my need for wine over chococinos….