Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On speaking clearly

Those of us who regularly speak in public -- whether preaching, facilitating a class or group, or making announcements -- should know the importance of clear speech and pronunciation. I think I know this, and certainly learned to be zealous about diction as a singer. So it comes as a surprise when I speak over the phone with my elderly, hard-of-hearing parents, and they cannot understand me.

Me: (after trying to communicate a sentence three times) Maybe you should try your other ear.
Dad: What?
Me: Maybe you should put the phone to your other ear.
Dad: I can't make it out. What?
Dad: Get the phone every other year??

Yes, this is a more complicated issue. My dear folks do not believe that they have a hearing problem. The problem, they say, lies in the bad phone connection, or is caused by the cheap phone from Radio Shack.

Last night, I stopped for an ice cream cone after a long, long day at church. I asked for the ice cream to be served on a PLAIN CONE. I spoke plainly -- or so I thought. The delightful young woman looked confused and asked, "Um, you wanted that on a ... PINE CONE?"

Okay, readers. Please be kind enough to tell me (if you are among those with whom I interact in person) when you do not understand what I have just spoken aloud. Thank you. (Very much.)


Blogger Trees of the Field said...

My favorite stories about being misunderstood come from the time we lived in the South and I attempted to use a southern accent in ordering something. I once ordered “frahs” at a fast food place, only to discover that I was talking to a transplanted Northerner. Then there was the postal worker who always asked me if I wanted “tayin” stamps when I ordered ten. The one time I asked for “tayin stamps” he looked at me and said, “Tayin?”

As you well know, I get impatient when I am not understood. I am glad that I am not the one talking to your parents. As for ice cream on pine cones – sounds kinda crunchy! What would have happened had you asked for a sugar cone? Or a waffle cone?

8:06 AM  

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