No impediment, poetess

No impediment, poetess

Monday, January 25, 2021

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Dear Editor,

The young, gifted and black Amanda Gorman delivered a powerful and poignant piece at last week's inauguration of President Biden.

The day after the inauguration I caught a portion of her interview on GMA and heard her say she suffered from a speech impediment and went on to clarify that she would drop letters like the 'r' in her own surname.

Subject to the correction of professional speech therapists, this is not a speech impediment per se, but a mistaken learnt approach to English pronunciation, which suggests that every letter in an English word needs to be articulated, even though we all know of silent letters in English like the final 'e' in were, are, etc, and the troublesome silent 'h' for even some very educated Jamaicans.

As I point out in my book A Controversial Clergyman, p 170, the basic rule of thumb for sounding the consonant 'r' for singers especially and public speakers is simple: “Never 'r' before a consonant or pause (punctuation or dramatic), always 'r' before a vowel [sound].”

So Gorman's surname is correctly pronounced as Gawman, 'r' dropped!

For Christians, especially, the word Lord is correctly pronounced as Lawd, dropped 'r', but for us Jamaicans, not Laad!

Clinton Chisholm

Florida, USA

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