How we use English is a matter of pride

It is refreshing to read Mr Ng Hee Chun's plea to pronounce English words correctly ("English words: Time to say them right"; Feb 4).

He called for the authorities to "create an awareness campaign".

I suggest that any campaign for proper pronunciation appeal to individual pride. Anecdotes help.

In a critique of participants' performances, a judge at a speech competition my daughter participated in pronounced "gesture" with a hard  "g" and lost all credibility.

That many English tutors here do not even pronounce the name of their chosen profession correctly is more than ironic.

I am reminded of a couple of books that Anglo-American author Bill Bryson wrote some years ago to further the cause of proper English - Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way and Troublesome Words. They are delightful and funny explorations into the history of the English language and its correct usage.

They also serve as guides to navigate some of its trickier aspects.

What makes these books work so well is Bryson's understanding that language is more than just words and grammar.

How and what we read, write and say are as intimate a reflection of our personalities as our faces and voices.

We would do well to teach our children to love their language(s) as they love themselves.

David Knapp

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline 'How we use English is a matter of pride'. Print Edition | Subscribe