Americans are concerned with correctness in terms of speech but only to a certain extent. I agree with journalist Robert MacNeil, but I do think that in some situations, correctness is more important than in other intimate situations. Although there are many dialects and accents across the United States, people usually have the ability to understand others despite their accents. For example, in the documentary, when MacNeil meets Pam Head, an owner of a gas station, he asks her about her experience with out of state customers. Head tells MacNeil about her encountering a Texan girl, who pronounced the word car as “car” instead of “cah”. The Texan girl was confused about what Head was trying to say. However, they soon referred to it as the automotive vehicle, and the Texan girl was able to understand what Head was saying. I think in certain situations like this, people are not that typically concerned with correctness.
The correctness of speech is mainly important in certain job professions. For example, for someone to be an actor or actress, broadcaster, translator, or announcer, one will need to be able to speak correct English. In professions like these, there is little room for errors and speakers need to be able to pronounce the words correctly, loudly, and clearly. In the documentary, after interviewing and asking people for their opinion on where one could find people who spoke correct English, MacNeil found that people in the Midwest (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota), also known as the “Midland”, speak the most normal and correct speech of all dialects. MacNeil then shares his experience at the Priscilla Beach Theatre in New England. He had spent one summer there as an actor several years ago, and while he was on the stage, he learned that his speech is not considered correct. The first time he stood on the stage and opened his mouth, the director asked him what he was saying and criticized him, telling him that he cannot talk like that. MacNeil pronounced certain words inaccurately since he’s from Nova Scotia. He would pronounced words such as “out” as “oat” and “about” as “a-bout”. Speech in certain professions is extremely important and essential for one to succeed.
I can relate to the incident that MacNeil experienced. When I was younger, I would always say the word supposedly as “supposably” instead of “supposedly”. I wasn’t punished for my incorrect speech; however, I was made fun of for not saying it correctly. After that, I changed the way I pronounced that word. In addition, most people tend to expect leaders, presidents, or one who is higher up in status such as Donald Trump, the president of the United States, to have correctness in his speech. However, Trump does not talk with correctness even in formal and important events. In fact, he speaks casually as if he’s having a conversation with someone close to him no matter where he is. On July 19, 2016, president Donald Trump delivered a speech, at Sun City’s Magnolia Hall in South Carolina, in which he started criticizing a nuclear deal made previously. He began rambling on about his late uncle and he talked in a very informal and incorrect way which is inappropriate in a formal speech.
In addition, Trump used phrases such as “believe me” and “people don’t know”, to reinforce his point of view on topics. These phrases are definitely not suitable and appropriate for speeches and rallies. Trump also talked in insulting manners and ways which many people in the United State find offensive. I feel that if Trump did not talk in such ways, he would be in a better position with the audiences that he has and he would have fewer haters.
Personally, I have different styles and ways of speaking. For example, my speaking differs when I’m delivering a class presentation, versus when I’m speaking to a friend. Usually, during presentations, I speak with accuracy, correctness, and I make my voice heard. However, when speaking to a friend, if I make any mistakes, I don’t have to worry much about it. On the other hand, people who are not in certain speech professions are not held to a high standard of correctness. Although having good pronunciation is beneficial, there is no punishment for people who do not pronounce correctly.
In my opinion, based on today’s society, I feel that most people who are interacting personally, such as friends and family members, speak non-correct English, while in a business and formal setting, someone talking to another of higher status would have to speak with correctness and respect.
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