Monday, September 30, 2013

Mispronunciation of “Imbroglio” by Leading Light of the Media David Brooks

First, my customary declaration for posts on “mispronounced words”: The objective is NOT to denigrate or ridicule someone. Instead, I feature such posts in the belief that if a highly educated person is mispronouncing a particular word, there is a high probability that at least a few of my blog readers are making the same error. In other words, these posts are meant to serve as “pronunciation alerts!” And the reason why I name the radio or TV program and identify the speaker is solely to make this feature credible.

This past weekend, while watching the Friday, September 20, 2013, edition of PBS’s “NewsHour,” I was disappointed to hear David Brooks of the New York Times--one of my favorite political commentators--pronounce imbroglio just as it is spelt, i.e., [im-brohg-lee-oh].  The correct pronunciation is [im-broh-lee-oh].  The g is silent.

David Brooks is a much respected columnist and a frequent guest on high-profile shows such as “Charlie Rose” and “Meet the Press.” You can bet he regularly hobnobs with America’s most articulate--has probably been doing so for decades!  And imbroglio is not one of those rarely encountered words. So, for Brooks to make this egregious pronunciation error suggests a certain laxity on his part…a measure of insouciance. Unacceptable!

The most lamentable aspect of the above is that David Brooks will probably continue to mispronounce imbroglio for years to come! Why? Because my research indicates that when someone utters a glaring mispronunciation, no friends or acquaintances will point out the error to him or her, fearing that the correction will be viewed as an unfriendly, an unwelcome, even a hostile act.

© Copyright 2013  V. J. Singal

Sunday, September 15, 2013

“Serendipitous Tragedy” – Kenneth Feinberg’s Oxymoron on NPR This Morning

If you heard the “Sunday Conversation” feature on this morning’s NPR “Weekend Edition,” you were probably as taken aback as I was by the extremely articulate and well-spoken Kenneth Feinberg’s erroneous choice of words toward the very end of the interview, when he referred to recent American tragedies such as Sept. 11, Virginia Tech, Aurora (Colorado), and the Boston Marathon bombings as “serendipitous.” 

The adjective serendipitous is inapplicable when describing those horrendous and deeply unsettling events because it strictly refers to something that happened or was discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial or agreeable way. Serendipitous is not one of those descriptors that are packed with multiple or ambiguous senses—words such as fulsome.

BTW, I am an admirer of Mr. Feinberg. For instance, while profiling the word “stolid” in the March/April 2013 edition of my “Words of the Month,” I wrote the following:
·        Kenneth Feinberg, who has become America’s go-to guy for administering victim assistance funds (including the one just set up for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings) partly because of his stolid disposition--a personal quality that is essential for the fair and dispassionate handling of claimants whose stories are brimming with intense pain and suffering

© Copyright 2013  V. J. Singal

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Answer to the Quick Quiz of Yesterday; Why Obama’s Use of “A Shot Across the Bow” was Incorrect

To make sense of this post, you need to first read the previous one, which asks why was President Obama wrong in his use of the idiom “a shot across the bow” with reference to his intended action against Syria.

“A shot across the bow” is meant to serve as a warning--it is an action or gesture that is intended to make the other side desist from a course of action but is not something that inflicts harm.  Literally, it is when the cannonball sails over the enemy ship and falls into the water, as per design, and does not actually hit the vessel. Well, in the case of Syria, the intended U.S. action will not be a mere warning but an attack that will take out several of that nation’s military assets.

© Copyright 2013  V. J. Singal