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Feb 25, 2009

The Perpetuation of Mispronouncing English

I was watching the television the other day and during the commercials listened to the way the different products (English names) were pronounced (badly in general) and realized that part of the problem that most students have with pronunciation and understanding spoken English is perpetuated by the commercials and announcers mispronouncing brand names, titles, people’s names, etc. Can somebody explain the logic behind the pronunciation of Colgate (col-gueit) as col-ga-te but Nike (nai-qui) as naik????? Or how about the recent Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire” has somehow become “Slamdo Miyonayr”! I could go on and on. Why don’t the announcers stop to at least try and listen to the correct pronunciation? As to commercials, one would think that the companies would be more vigilant as to the pronunciation of their product, right?
My beef is that this slipshod way of presenting things is perpetuating the mispronunciation of English that is endemic to the Spanish student. As it is, everything is dubbed (and for the most part badly translated) in this country. A student must make a very concerted effort to hear and speak in English. In schools for example and for the most part, the “English teacher” does not speak English. Students spend their time translating and studying grammar.
So where am I going with this? For the serious student of English, USE YOUR DICTIONARY!!! I mean the English/English dictionary. You can find the CORRECT pronunciation, definitions and the various uses of a word- which in English can be quite extensive- with examples of the uses, etc.; in other words, the whole enchilada! If you have a really good dictionary it will also give the origin and how the word has transformed over time.
The point being to learn English you MUST use the dictionary – whether it is the one on your table or on the internet. Take the time to say the word out loud paying close attention to the pronunciation given until it feels comfortable. (Remember to put the accent on the correct part of the word!) Make it a habit! I assure you that very soon you will see an improvement in both your speaking and LISTENING skills.


  1. I agree with that. The lack of spanish students is pronuntiation. I´m used to listen news on CNN international, and there are interviews with leaders from all countries, and most of them speak really bad. I switch off the television when this happens, because i can´t stand it. We have to find good sources.

  2. Thanks Francisco! I have the same reaction. I have even sent complaints to TV stations about the mispronunciations - but nobody seems to listen! LOL