“She then almost gave out her sexual orientation when she said that she was ‘into Aaliyah’, and then attempted to correct it with ‘inter alia’ with the short ‘a’ pronunciation—which, by the way, is the correct Latin pronunciation. Only with the audience’s urging did she get it right in the end. Sigh!”
The following Letter to the Editor, which deals with an example of the continuing decline in the use of language in public in T&T, was submitted to Wired868 by Reverend Clifford Rawlins:
With every passing QRC function over the last several years, one has had to bemoan the falling standards reflected in the quality of speeches and presentations. [Saturday evening] was no different, as far as the Mistress of Ceremonies was concerned particularly. Her mispronunciations throughout the evening were remarkably those that could have been corrected by taking preventative action as, more than anything else, they were errors of knowledge.
As a fellow Scots Presbyterian Minister myself, I was proud to celebrate the formidable legacy of inductee, the late Sir Robert Alexander Falconer, son of Reverend Alexander Falconer, third minister of Greyfriars Church in Port-of-Spain. But I cringed as his name was mispronounced “FAL-CO-NER” at least three times.
The wife of an eminent former QRC vice-principal, who was sitting to my immediate right, remarked, “Well, seeing that he went to the University of EdinBERG, his name could surely be Fal-co-ner!” *Chuckle*
As we went along, I moaned as she pronounced “Royalians” with a short ‘a’ as in “royale.” How could someone not know how to pronounce a word as simple as that?
She then almost gave out her sexual orientation when she said that she was ‘into Aaliyah’, and then attempted to correct it with ‘inter alia’ with the short ‘a’ pronunciation—which, by the way, is the correct Latin pronunciation. Only with the audience’s urging did she get it right in the end. Sigh!
Somewhere in the mix was our President’s usual non-pronunciation of his ‘th’s’ and misplacement of the same as with his classic, “The work that these great men wroughth…” Well, to tell you the truth, by then, I was wroth and wrathed, or as the Jamaicans would pronounce it, raaaaated man, raaaaaaated!
But what took the cake was Miss Lady’s announcement that the rest of the audience remain while the inductees “living and posthumous,” make their way out first. There was an audible gasp of horror in the room. She wondered at everyone’s amazement, totally nonplussed.
The gentleman to my wife’s immediate left (name withheld) looked on in horror, shocked that she apparently did not really know what she had done. She too began to ask if she had done or said anything amiss. As the gathering started to mumble among themselves, yours truly, unable to take it any longer, simply blurted out, “Posthumous means they’re DEAD!”
“Oooooh!” she exclaimed, catching on at last. She then made an appropriate correction. Where did they find such a one? Rather, “Whey dey find she?”
My colleague mentioned that she was a youth who was being “given a chance.”
“Yout,” I asked, “Yute?”
He replied, “No, YOOT!” Hahahahahaha!
I’m sure this woman has tertiary level education. And yet, for all that, unable to read, write, spell and pronounce? Good God!
The esteemed lady to my right ascertained that these faux pas—which I deliberately and audibly mispronounced “fox pass” a couple of times—were not the fault of the persons concerned but rather of the hall, since she had been at a function there the week before where someone welcomed “all the members of the Diplomatic Corps(e)”!!! Oh gawd! Murder, yes!
The night’s saving grace and redemption came from the response of the inductees, delivered by one Hollis Raymond Charles. What use of language! What style, what diction, what command!
It was a classic QRC speech, of the sort to which I was accustomed as a boy at the College but which has been sadly lacking of late as standards have been falling and we seem to be alright with mediocrity.
We no longer stand on the shoulders of giants, as he alluded that we once did. As with Elizabeth Browning’s poem, “Aurora Leigh,” when we see greatness and majesty, we don’t take off our shoes and follow; we “sit in stupor, pluck blackberries and daub our faces far from our first similitude.”
Hollis Charles reminded me of why I wanted to go to no school other than The Queen’s Royal College and why I wanted to marry someone with a like intellectual and linguistic capacity and performance.
And why I pray that any future male issue of ours would be educated at and groomed by none other than The Queen’s Royal College.