language gone awry

Pop quiz (for Pinoys): How do you pronounce the word “awry”?

If your answer sounds something like ow-ree, then you’re not alone. That’s how I would pronounce it too. Apparently, the “correct” pronunciation (at least according to the Americans) is uhray — quite like “aray,” the Tagalog interjection/exclamation equivalent to “ouch.”

Strange, no?

Reminds me of “precedent,” commonly pronounced by Pinoys as pre-see-dent; I’ve heard Americans pronounce it in the movies exactly like they would say “president.” I think the Pinoy pronunciation makes more sense, especially when you consider the following case: “The president’s precedent action was misconstrued.” Or some such usage.

In many ways, English is a very inconsistent language. I like the simplicity of Tagalog/Filipino. As the Filipino teacher’s mantra goes, Kung anong bigkas, siya ring baybay (How you say it is how you spell it.) Then again, for non-Tagalog speakers things could also go awry.

One Comment

  1. That is so true~ As an English tutor to Koreans, I always find myself saying ‘sorry’ (though I shouldn’t be) to them for the language’s inconsistencies.I am really ashamed that there aren’t even pronunciation rules to go by. Mas kawawa yung mga bata who are confused by pronunciation.
    They study and practice so hard yet when they read passages there are still so many mistakes due to the weird and baffling pronunciation of words, as exemplified by this passage from the net: “if you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree!”
    In contrast, you can learn to read or pronounce Korean words correctly without even knowing their meaning!

    i can imagine how that sentence can be difficult for someone who’s just learning english! i think the best way to learn a language, and this may be especially true for english because of its inconsistencies, is to expose urself to media, literature, and people that use it. tama ba, teacher? 🙂 sillyserious


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