The PM can’t speak

A key characteristic of a good public speaker is pronunciation. So I am intrigued by the lack of pronunciation by none other than the Prime Minister of New Zealand, or as he would say Nu Zilund.  I am even more fascinated by the level of influence his poor pronunciation has had in his cabinet by those who try to emulate the PM’s pronunciation in interviews. To provide examples I have linked a video journal made by the PM at http://www.johnkey.co.nz/ from which I picked up a number of his pronunciation errors in the first 5 minutes.

  1. It’s not nu and it’s not new-nique to Nu Zealund  (It’s not new and it’s not unique to New Zealand) I must give him credit for pronouncing the ‘ea’
  2. Problee (Probably)
  3. Intrish-rates (Interest rates)
  4. Borra-from the bank (Borrow from the bank)
  5. They-illend (They’ll  lend)
  6. Austray-l-yah (Australia)
  7. Infa-strucksha (infrastructure)
  8. Wea consinnering (We’re considering)
I acknowledge that there are probably times when we are all prone to be a little lazy with our speech, most notably when intoxicated, but this is the PM addressing his constituents, and arguably, the nation on housing affordability. 

It irritated me at first, but I’m finding it hilarious that others would allow their own pronunciation standards to deteriorate, to emulate a man often slurs his words together in a not too dissimilar way to an intoxicated person. 
Advertisements

5 comments

  1. As someone who participated in speech competitions and did speech lessons throughout secondary school, I am always a bit perplexed as to why our imperial overlords so seldom speak with eloquence. But I digress. I am actually of the opinion that dressing communications up in grandiloquence is counter-productive to those in public office. Public address need not be an exercise in displaying ones pompous vocabulary, indeed most 'pragmatic' people would agree it's about 'getting the message through' to those being addressed. In doing this, it often helps to use the vernacular appropriate to the audience; if I was to speak to a classroom of primary school children I would probably not use this sort of language, nor would I address a room full of deaf people without adjusting the means to something appropriate to them.It's a dangerous line between paternalism and over-simplificaiton, and being a bit pompous and inaccessible / unrelatable; both can reek of elitism and a general contempt for one's audience. On the other hand, you could argue that our national dialogue is becoming more and more trivial and 'dumbed-down', and that our political leaders should be the first to help reverse this by using a more technical style of speech. And lastly there is a political aspect to it, Brand Key is a homely, awkward-Uncle kind of idea – his 'achually's, and 'nu zillunds' are a good way of making him relatable to the 'average kiwi' (or at least the middle-class or right-leaning support base National guns for), it helps disguise the fact that the guy is of a net-worth unimaginable to most New Zealanders.Btw, good to see you're back at it – hope exams went well.

    Like

  2. Arguably Helen Clark wasn't a great orator, while Don Brash – at least in my opinion – was quite eloquent. I'm not sure if a chosen style of speech speaks volumes about one's political efficacy, or even intelligence, so much as it does their upbringing and background.

    Like

  3. I hadn't really thought about this aspect: 'it helps disguise the fact that the guy is of a net-worth unimaginable to most New Zealanders' so true! And I agree about tailoring what you have to say to the relevant audience. However, I think as a public speaker, and more importantly, as a PM, using plain english does not require him to mispronounce or drawl his words to the extent that he does. I would be more forgiving if it were simply his 'Nu Zilund' pronunciation, I might even consider it an endearing trait, but I am less endeared and more irritated!p.s 1 more exam to go, otherwise all good.

    Like

  4. Yes, I feel I may have been a bit picky. It was after seeing Simon Bridges conduct himself in the same manner as the PM on The Nation in the weekend. It was really off-putting. I do somewhat recall that Don brash is an eloquent speaker beneath the smarminess!

    Like

  5. I'm glad you highlighted that example, because I think it shows the difference in effectiveness between Bridges and Key's similar styles. Where Key's speech helps circumvent his wealth (or at least contextualise it in terms of his 'statehouse' backstory), he still uses that wealth as a political 'measure of success' – giving assurance to us all that underneath his charm he is a cunning and savvy wheeler and dealer; good traits to have in our leadership during a recession. Bridges on the other hand does not have a definitive totem of success (albeit a relatively 'good' career background) and to me, comes off as a bit of Simple Simon, who might believe in his policy – but not necessarily understand it. I'm not saying that's a true assessment of either MPs' ability, but just my assessment of their communication style.

    Like

Comments are closed.