Monday, July 25, 2005

Fo-neh-ticks 4 foo-uhls

Way back in J-school, we learned important college learnin' like how to write inverted pyramids to make sure the most important thing was at the top and the least important thing was at the bottom. For example, all the things in the unwritten EASTCOASTLIBERALMEDIAELITE rule book should be at the top -- the supreme righteousness of liberals/Marxists, Republican hypocrisy, etc. At the bottom (if at all) should be things that show EASTCOASTLIBERALMEDIAELITE in poor light.

Not really, but I wanted to make sure y'all are paying attention.

In one of my classes, which was aimed primarily at broadcast majors (basically everyone with good hair who flunked out of the ultra-easy marketing college), we learned about teleprompter technology and how to write phonetically so people who could barely read or write could at least sound like they knew what they were talking about.

For example, instead of putting "Uzbekistan" on the teleprompter, the news reader would see "Ooze-BECK-uh-stan." It was the worst kind of phonetic gymnastics getting people to pronounce foreign countries they couldn't place on a map. Me, being the smarmy print journalist who was minoring in either political science or economics (I never did make up my mind), would mock the broadcast tools by dumbing down the copy to the point they couldn't read it at all. Actually, I would just turn it into my native Alabama redneck-ese. It was a hoot, even if I was the only one laughing.

Here's a Gad(d)about revision of lede in a recent CNN article:
Luhn-done, Ayn-guhland (CNN) -- Poh-leece have uh-dent-uh-fahd tuh-oo of the fower suh-spay-ects thu-ay bo-leeve war BEE-hand luw-ast week's fay-ailed baw-um uh-tayacks on Luhn-done train-sat see-stome.

What was particularly funny is they labored so hard to understand what they were reading (a big mistake in broadcast news), they read it slower than my country cousins spoke. So they sounded really dumb. (Side note: Southern drawls are not the sign of stupidity, but that doesn't stop me from using this kind of stereotype against self-important Yankees).

I was chuckling to myself this morning while watching a local newscaster, a young, blond, white-bread suburbanite who embarassed all white-bread suburbanites (such as myself) while attempting to pronounce the word "Mexica," in reference to a story on the history of Mesoamerica. The term is not pronounced "Mex-ick-uh." He made it worse: "Mex-ee-kuh," in a patronizing attempt at sounding ethnic. I think white-bread boy needs to stick with his Taco Bell-influenced Mexican dialect and leave the ethnicity to people who are ethnic. It is "Meh-shee-kuh." You can find more on the great Meh-shee-kuh on any study of May-sow-uh-mair-uh-kuh.

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