Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Telugu's English pronunciation blues - II



Disclaimer: This article is not to demean a particular section of the society. It is an analysis of problems faced by me during my journey TBE, but most of these are still present in Telugu-speaking people. Some of them may apply to other Indians also.


In Part-I, I wrote about my pronunciation blues with some English letters. Here, I would continue with some common words and syllables that were taught incorrectly by most of the A.P. English teachers.

1. And,Answer:

The Telugu alphabet doesn’t have a letter to represent the sound “eah” made as in ant, animal, bat, cat, fat, rat, etc. But, still the Telugites, including me, never face any problem to produce this sound.
Now observe how most of the Telugus pronounce the words – answer, and. ‘a’ in “answer” similar to honour; ‘a’ in “and” similar to under. Even, I used to pronounce the same way till I had started watching English movies in my 10th, thanks to the advent of STAR television network.

2. for:

Most pronounce this the familiar way – without stress on any syllable, the second syllable as light as possible; or sometimes, stressing the first syllable.
But, most of the Telugus (again I was) stress both the syllables. It hits the eardrum while listening.

3. environment:
Again, the common Telugu’s pronunciation is :- en-vi (i as in itch)-ron-ment. However, the NGC and the Discovery channels taught me early in my high-school that I should pronounce it as “enwirement”. I can still find hundreds of Telugu people at higher position use this word the former way.

As I have mentioned in the disclaimer, these posts are not to demean the Telugus (how can I, I belong to the same community); but to highlight the damage that was done and being done by the teachers to the students at an early stage.

We can’t blame even the Teachers because, not all schools appoint a graduate in M.A. English literature.

We can try to improve our English speaking skills by reading many books, attending sessions but it is very hard to get rid of some habits that were learnt in the childhood. Whenever we observe similar anomalies in English speaking by children around us, we should educate them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Telugu's English pronunciation blues - Part I

Disclaimer: This article is not to demean a particular section of the society. It is an analysis of problems faced by me during my journey Towards Better English (TBE), but most of these are still present in Telugu-speaking people. Some of them may apply to other Indians also.


Good pronunciation is one of the milestones on the path TBE. Every word should be pronounced in a way that most of the audience can understand.

This article is not directed towards accents, but various problems faced or common errors made by a typical South Indian, especially Telugites and importantly me. My ire is primarily against my primary and secondary school teachers of English whom I feel are the real culprits.

1.‘a’: The first trouble starts with the first letter of the English alphabet (again careful to not append ‘s’ after TBE-I ). The teachers start teaching the language by making us yell the letter “AAAAAAAAA…..”, “Beeeeeeeeeeeeee” and so on. I had got used to this “A” so much that I used to pronounce the article “a” in a sentence as A in ancient rather than A in away.

2.‘h’: Next comes the letter H. The teachers in Andhra Pradesh generally teach this as “Hetch” – and we, the Telugites, add the usual stress as we do with Telugu words. It took me 10 more years to know that the “Ha” sound is not required. That’s why I was always confused why “an” should come instead of “a” before hour and honor (i.e., why it is our and not ‘ha’wer).

Telugites can observe this with the ‘MH’ in Devanagari on Maharashtra RTC buses and the ‘H’ in Telugu newspapers.

3.‘o’: This is not as common as the above two, but it happens in some schools in AP. ‘o’ is a vowel. Generally vowel sound comes from inside, whereas the consonant sound involves lips and/or tongue.
But my teachers somehow chose to teach ‘o’ as in vote rather than in old/own.

Again, I was confused with the usage of “an” before ‘old man’ when I learnt that “an” comes before vowel sounds. I used to pronounce ‘old’ as ‘vold’.

4.‘v’: I had always pronounced this as ‘vee’ until an instructor in one of those English in my organisation remarked quoting me that the South Indians pronounce ‘v’ incorrectly and that the upper teeth should press the lower lip while producing the ‘v’ sound; especially for words like ‘victory’.

Somehow, I got rid of the first three, but still trying my best with the fourth one. I will write about pronunciation blues with some common words in the next one.

Share