Daily Telegraph, London, 26 June 1999

US influence on the way we speak is a hot 'potayto'
By A J McIlroy

THE generations are at war over a surge in "Americanisms" entering our everyday use of words, according to a survey for the authoritative Longman pronunciation dictionary.

Older people loyal to traditional pronunciation are complaining that the Queen's English is being abused by the young, who prefer "skedule" to schedule, the survey says. The research, the most comprehensive examination to date of the way we pronounce words, finds that the young are giving in to the "all-pervasive" influence of American English already marked by the different pronunciation of "tomato" at home and "tomayto" across the Atlantic.

Of 2,000 people in England, Wales and Scotland questioned on their pronunciation preferences, two-thirds of those aged under 26 referred to schedule as "skedule". This was in sharp contrast to the 95 per cent over 65 years old who insisted on using "schedule" and disapproved of the American influence.

John Wells, professor of phonetics at University College London, who is the dictionary's author, said yesterday that the survey, based on 100 words, had shown a growing trend among the young for Americanisms. Those questioned used "veycation", placed the emphasis on PRIN in princess and turned garage into "guRARGE", stressing the final syllable. Half of the young pronounced ogle as "oggle", while nearly all those over 65 used the traditional "oagle".

Prof Wells, the world's leading authority on English pronunciation, said there were other examples of the older generation's impatience with what was seen to be youthful lack of respect for the Queen's English.

He said: "They are shocked at those under 26 preferring misCHIEVous to the traditional MISchievous and who think that a shopping mall should be pronounced "mawl" and not after the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace. The young in their turn laugh at the older ones who don't know how to pronounce gigabyte [starts like giggle]."

He said his research had shown a tendency among young southerners to adopt a northern lilt in pronouncing some words. For example, chance was pronounced "chans" with a flattened vowel by 60 per cent of them while 80 per cent of the over 65s used "chance".

The new edition of the Longman pronunciation dictionary is due to appear in November and will contain 80,000 words.

Placed on the web 1999 06 28, lifted from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=001762165742255&rtmo=kJJJk1Cp&atmo=7777Pkot&pg=/et/99/6/26/namer26.html

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