A couple of evenings ago, a young pundit who is a regular on the MSNBC political chat shows used the word, “efficacy.” Crabby Old Lady thought it was nice to hear the vocabulary of public discourse raised a smidgeon from its usual third-grade level.
Or, rather, she would have thought so if he had not pronounced the word, e-FIK-a-see. (Say that aloud; it sounds like a chicken dish.)
How is it possible, Crabby wondered, that someone could use a word correctly, as he did, while getting the pronunciation (correctly, EF-i-ka-see) so wrong?
The answer, of course, must be that he had only read the word and never heard it – not difficult in a era of declining literacy. This reminded Crabby of another word, one that is, apparently, undergoing a change in pronunciation.
She first heard it three or four years ago when a neighbor in Maine, a musician, told her he was going on tour for a month. She did not immediately understand what he was saying because he pronounced the word as “tore” - going on tore.
Huh? Since then, Crabby has heard this pronunciation with increasing frequency and it came up many times on the cable news channels last weekend as reporters spoke of the tourist – that is, toreist – dollars being lost up and down the east coast due to Hurricane Irene. Every reporter Crabby heard, without exception, pronounced it toreist.
In all Crabby's 70 years, until recently, that word was pronounced toor rhyming with moor, not more. When and why did this change?
The pundit's pronunciation of efficacy is simply wrong. But tour is not an obscure word that wouldn't be heard by everyone with some regularity. The change in its pronunciation sounds ignorant, or it could be sloppy, like dropping a g; it takes slightly more effort to say toor than tore.
Crabby Old Lady knows perfectly well that in the greater scheme of things, this falls at the bottom of any given list of 10,000 issues. Still, she finds both e-FIC-a-see and tore annoying.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: My Angels