Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Some murder the king's English

I’d like to have a word with Bud Boylan.

Actually, I’d like to have several words with Bud. But remember, he started it.

His square name is Leo J. Boylan Jr., he is a faithful reader who lives in Lyndhurst and is retired from General Electric.

His name has been in this space several times over the past few decades because of topics he brought up for discussion, many of them involving high school sports teams and heroes.

I will say this for Bud — he lets little escape his detection. And some things seem to rile him up. That is a good thing. I like it when people get riled up. I am riled up about many things at the moment, one of which is the conflict between the Willoughby Chamber of Commerce and some downtown Willoughby merchants over the recent Arts Festival. I have been privy to some of the emails that have been exchanged and will say no more about it at this point.

Except that I will carry some of the vituperative missives around in my pocket, in case anyone wants to review them. And I will express my opinion on the accompanying brouhaha between the chamber and the Fine Arts Association, where I have been a trustee for some 42 years. I know shabby treatment when I see it, but since there are two (or more) sides to every story, I will say no more until all sides of this one have been aired.

I would ask the City of Willoughby, however, to revisit the advisability of blocking off U.S. Route 20 for an entire Saturday until the problems have been resolved.

But I digress.

Bud’s most recent communication excoriated me for some recent columns which he typifies as "highly localized."

"How about," he asked, "a column a bit more widespread, such as ‘Things that bug me?’ "

OK, Bud, so what’s bugging you?

"Here are some of mine, for starters," he wrote.

"I’ve heard TV anchors mispronounce the following:

"Renumeration for remuneration.

"Nuculer for nuclear.

"Momento for memento.

"Eckcetera for etcetera.

"Febuary for February."

Yes, Bud, I notice those also. And they grate on me, too. Nobody pronounces February as if it had an "r" in the middle.

And George Bush was guilty of the "nuculer" gaffe.

Bud continued with criticism of sports announcers who say, "He has a great future ahead of him."

Well, very few have their futures behind them.

"And finally," he concluded, "those insane interviews when field reporters stop football and basketball coaches at halftime. Nothing of interest is ever revealed, and the coaches are obviously itching to get to their teams’ locker rooms."

Here’s one thing you’ll have to understand, Bud. Mispronunciation is the American way. I have dear friend with a doctorate degree who says, "heliocopter."

How about, "When I was a "southmore" in high school?

Here’s a word practically no one pronounces properly: Prerogative. You can look it up. It’s not "perogative."

I once had a secretary who was a dear person and a very efficient office manager, but who lived in her own world when it came to pronouncing the king’s English.

One morning she was staring at a communication in her hand. She seemed to be mildly distraught.

"What’s the matter?" I inquired.

"The insurance company is raising the premium on our house," she said, "because it’s more than 1,000 feet to the nearest fire hydrogen."

I knew she meant hydrant, but I didn’t say anything.

She routinely pronounced Wickliffe as if it had a "d" in the middle, as if it were "Widcliffe."

But the one I’ll never forget came on a long ago Saturday night, when several couples were going to Geneva-on-the-Lake and decided to stop at a roadhouse along the way. I believe it was called "The Castaways."

Over the doorway was a huge torch, fed by oil, with flames shooting skyward amid lots of smoke.

The secretary tugged at her husband’s sleeve and pointed at the torch.

"Gee," he exclaimed, "it looks like Kennedy’s grave."

"Yeah," she replied, "the internal flame."

Eternal, internal, what’s the big deal?

See, Bud, you don’t have to be on television to mess with the language.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't get riled up just yet. Your a wise man. Be a good detective and investigate the other side of the story. WCC is a hard working group. Some of your cronies have not been completely honest you.

August 14, 2011 at 6:27 PM 

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