Experts have called on broadcasters to speak well and pronounce words correctly while on air. This called was made on Saturday at the official presentation of two books titled Pronunciation Guide: The Clergy and Pronunciation Guide: The Spoken Word Industry by foremost broadcaster, Funke Treasure Durodola.
In his speech, Broadcaster, Femi Sowoolu said the standard has fallen in radio presentations across the country.
According to him, when the term OAP (On-Air-Personalities) was introduced into the lexicon of Nigerian radio, when Rhythm 93.7 started some years ago, it was done to bring some level of respect to the profession.
“I fear to attempt to vouch for many of today’s ‘OAPs’ on those same standards. They fail in many areas – in speech, delivery, pronunciation, style, elocution, or even preparation. They do excel however, in the one area that the true broadcaster knows is wrong to have – the huge egos bandied about all over the social media space. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the true radio voice preferred to remain hidden, behind the mic. Not anymore! Times have changed,” he said.
He also decried the presence of foreign accented English spoken by broadcasters on air.
“To worsen issues, the trend, I am told these days, is to have a foreign accent, or to speak through one’s nose, and many of today’s new entrants into the profession use that as a guideline. I once consulted for a Port Harcourt based radio station over a couple of years and at some stage early in my contract, we needed to have auditions for both existing and prospective staff. There’s this girl who walks in for the interview with this nauseating twang in her voice; even her Ekwerre native name was heavily accented. Unfortunately for her I couldn’t decipher where the tone came from – some parts British, some Aussie, some American, some native; she regaled us with a mish mash of foreign textures. She didn’t understand me when I asked her, “So where did you grow up, in Australia, England or Texas?” “That’s how they tell us to speak when we come for auditions, otherwise they won’t employ us.” Indeed, things have changed,” he said.
In the review of the book Pronunciation Guide: The Clergy, Tokunbo Ojekunle, former General Manager, of Max FM, Lagos, commended the effort of the author to state the errors coming from the pulpit without sounding offensive.
“The striking thing about ‘The Clergy’ is that the mind behind it thought it wise not to express derogatory thoughts on those that fall into the pit of common English errors. She ‘gracefully’ offers help based on the explicitness of her intention. Funke brings her coaching skills to bear; I ended up asking myself as I read through the pages, ‘Am I at a presentation training session? ” he noted.
He further said one of the greatest challenges that could prop up during speaking engagements or church ministration sessions is the preacher’s inability to conceal his ethno-linguistic influences or regional accents.
“To make this clearer, the author, in the seventh chapter, researched into contrasting English alphabets with those of the three Nigerian Major Languages; Hausa; Igbo; Yoruba. I quote from chapter seven, “We will compare pronunciations of English alphabets with those of the three National languages in Nigeria, to determine speech sounds you find most difficult to learn as a result of the influence of your mother tongue. This is a big step towards identifying where your accent challenge is, and strategies you can apply to improve your speech. This exercise will also enable you lose your provincialism,” he explained.
Durodola in her welcome remark said she considers it necessary to write books on the dearth of correct pronunciation of words on air and on the pulpit. She argues that media and the pulpit have greater influence on listeners, who like the speakers, are second language speakers of the English Language.
According to her, “There are many wrongly pronounced words in the communicative cycle in Nigeria . . . these books, address the retrogression in the proper pronunciation of words by on-air-personalities, comperes, trainers, motivational speakers, the clergy and other gatekeepers in the Spoken word industry”.