Thursday, January 17, 2008


We were browsing the sporting goods store in Bonifacio High Street when I heard one of the salespeople describe a really expensive pair of shoes as "water proof and britabol." I was clueless as to what "britabol" was. My first thought was it had something to do with the Brita water filter, although what a water filter has to do with a shoe is beyond me.

I eventually realized that what the salesperson was trying to say was that the shoe was "water proof and breathable." In this case, his mispronunciation could have very well cost him as a sale! I will not buy a "britabol" shoe (what the hell is that?) but I will get a "breathable" one.

Now, some might say that the mispronunciation is due to a heavy accent (see my previous posts regarding the "i" and "e" sounds and the "th" and "d" sounds) and that might indeed be true. However, I have heard very good speakers of English who make themselves clear despite their heavy non-English accents (I'm thinking of my European friends whose English is heavily accented but very understandable).

English is actually very forgiving where accents are concerned. If what you're trying to say is obvious despite the accent, you're ok. In the case of the poor salesperson, his accent made things very unclear and difficult for all concerned. Remember, an accent is not an excuse to avoid learning proper pronunciation.


Qing said...

I agree with you totally.

Manny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manny said...

oh, that reminds me, I need to practise my tongue for 'th' sound words. ta