Thursday, September 10, 2009

The King's Anglish

This morning as I readied myself in the bath to start my day, a 'thunk' hit my 'English' ear. Although I write as a side (novels) I am not a stickler for perfect grammar. I fully understand formal verses casual speaking and the various dialects and accents that are scattered across our land. However, there is one usage that thoroughly grates on my nerves; the incorrect pronunciation of the word 'the'.

For this demonstration I shall refer to these pronunciations as 'thee' and 'thuh'. I'm sure at this point North of 50 already knows where I'm heading although I do not know if it annoys him as it does myself. On the national morning news a couple was being interviewed as to a major story that had recently taken place. I could not see them but I could hear them clearly. Just listening to their voices I had conflicting signals to process. For much of the interview I guessed them to be fairly well educated and perhaps in their twenties. Each time I heard the 'thunk' my opinion of them strictly through their speech lessened slightly. Often how you are viewed in life situations depends on your speech and speech patterns.

Although no rule regarding the English language is absolute, at least as far as I know, there are several that are quite resolute, and one is the usage of the word 'the'. English is a language that flows if spoken properly and if a term sounds clunky it is most likely being used incorrectly. I was taught the word 'the' should be pronounced 'thee' when the word following begins with a vowel; thee apple, thee ostrich etc. 'The' should be pronounced 'thuh' when the following word begins with a consonant; thuh movie, thuh football, etc.

I find those who jumble this pronunciation tend to be younger and or speak with a dialect or heavy accent. Often those who are less educated always say 'thuh' and never use 'thee' no matter what the circumstance. I am not sure how it is taught in schools. In this matter I will differ to Baby Sis who is an educator herself and perhaps she can convince the English teachers in her school to address this before I die.

Thuh other option would be to simply let thuh ostriches run around eating all thuh footballs.


  1. I don't specifically remember this concept being taught in school. However, when I ran through your examples, I did pronounce them correctly automatically. I do remember being taught that you say "a" before a consonant and "an" before a vowel. A apple. Maybe you just pick some of these things up by being around more educated people when you're young?

  2. Nah, I had no edjumacated folk around when I was younger. All I had were your uncles.

  3. Yeah, verily, it doth annoy me to teeth grinding.

    Also, an was used before a consonant when the word was something with an h, as in an honor.