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The importance of enunciation
Posted on Wednesday, February 13 2008 @ 16:01:15 Eastern

Read this in the voice of Father Stone from Father Ted and if you don't know what that is then just stop reading, I don't want the likes of you here.

I play Mass Effect with great interest and I absorb volumes of information about the alien species on the Citadel and one of the most intriguing species is the Elcor. <descriptive> Those big, lumbering beasts are instinctively good natured but <remorseful> unfortunately difficult to have a fluent conversation with because of their inability to enunciate sufficiently for non-Elcors to understand, instead they speak in flat monotones. <perky> But this just adds a layer to their vocabulary humans don't require and that's interesting. <explanation> You see much as I have been doing here, the Elcors have trained themselves to briefly explain the mood of the sentence that follows. <regretful> This often causes confusion amongst those who lack the understanding of their species. <explanation> This got me thinking of how important enunciation, pronunciation and punctuation are in verbal and written speech.

Well that's enough of that I think, I can imagine writing an entire blog like that would get grating for you and me so stop reading in a flat voice, I'm enunciating now. But really, there is a very real point lying behind this and that is the ambiguity of the verbal and written language. Speaking only for the English language I have often noted how ambiguous many sentences or individual words can be (and some misunderstandings have got me in a lot of trouble!). How about this:

I didn't steal your money - but someone did...
I didn't steal your money - so believe me!
I didn't steal your money - but I took it, was I not meant to?
I didn't steal your money - but this wad of cash isn't strictly mine...
I didn't steal your money - but this watch of yours was ripe for the picking.

One sentence, five different ways of emphasising. Imagine if we could only deliver in monotones, how easy it would be to misinterpret! The omission (or inclusion) of just one simple word can completely flip the meaning of a statement. "That jacket is cool!" as opposed to "that jacket is not cool!", hell of a difference really, 'not' is a powerful word and deserves a kick in the shins, it's too bloody negative!

Punctuation is equally as important, take this example:

Woman without her man is nothing - how would you punctuate that sentence? Well there are at least two opposing possibilities:

Woman, without her man, is nothing.
Woman! Without her, man is nothing.


Imagine getting that one wrong! Incidentally let's just sweep the inequality issue under the carpet shall we? It's an ugly issue like that time you went round your aunt Betty's house and accidentally sat on her hamster she stupidly let out just before you arrived. I mean you have to hide the bugger somewhere, but where? Under the carpet, sure it's a bit lumpy but it'll even out soon enough and if anyone says anything you can subtly plant the idea of a rat infestation in their heads... what, just me?

*Ahem* Anyway, some may find this inconvenient but the truth is it allows us enormous versatility with only a few sounds or characters. There are 26 letters and around 12 relevant punctuation characters on a standard keyboard and a set of vocal cords capable of a finite amount of noises in a standard throat and yet we are capable of expressing such a wealth of emotion when combining one or the other with knowledge of language and basic understanding of presentation, it's hard not to be impressed and happy of the communicative potential at our fingertips (or mouths). Yeah, I know this has its drawbacks, just ask anyone who's been woken up at three in the morning by the wailing drunkard stumbling down the street and apparently trying to communicate with cats in their native frequency and obviously the scallies mentioned in my last blog love abusing the language with their spray-tastic pseudo-English scrawled on whatever wall is stupid enough to show its brick in a secluded area but I'd say it's worth it to give us the ability to succinctly tell the pisshead to shut the f*** up and wittily doodle your personal corrections under chav markings to imply they have a small penis, large girlfriend or both.

What was the point in this blog? I'm sure there is one, but if I had left out all the punctuation you probably wouldn't have got it.
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