English is an Egg-citing Language

Ernie Zarate’s book once again came handy. I still consider his Malictionary, which has been inside my blue laptop sling bag for quite a while, as a practical reference (and entertainment) to most frequently (ab)used English words.

While figuring out what to do this afternoon, one of the words in this small yellow paperback led to me to open our thick dictionary to see if this architect-turned-broadcaster’s pronunciation guide is correct for the English words starting with ‘ex.’

In his book that was published in 2005, Mr. Zarate wrote that even some broadcasters have repeatedly mispronounced the word exercise (during the past Balikatan exercises) by saying it as ‘EGS uhr sighs’—he made his own easy pronunciation guide for the benefit of his readers. The book also states that it is common for most Filipinos to do the same thing with words ‘exciting’ and ‘except’—that is, pronouncing ‘ex’ as ‘EGS.’

Pronouncing the letter “x” as “gz” or “gs” may be alright if the accent was on the second, third or fourth syllable as in “exalt or exaltation (ig ZOLT, igzol TEI shun) or as in “examine or examination” (ig ZAH min, ig zah mi NEI shun)”, Mr. Zarate explains. But his explanation wasn’t completely absorbed by the soft stuff inside my head.

Our Merriam-Webster dictionary then comes to the rescue. After flipping back and forth through its pages where the ‘ex’ words are, I eventually recognized the pattern. I discovered that if the ‘ex’ is followed by a vowel or a silent ‘h’, it is then likelythat either ‘ig’ or ‘eg’ applies such as in the following words: exact (ig’ zakt), exam (ig’ zam), executive (ig ze k(y)u tiv), exist (ig zist), exit (eg zit), exile (eg zil), exotic (ig za tik), and exuberant (ig zu be rant).

Meanwhile, most ‘ex’ words followed by a consonant use either ‘ik’ or ‘ek’ such as that in excel, exciting, exclusive, and excuse. At this point, it is already clear that the famous noodle commercial that introduced the word EGG-citing is catchy but wrong thus should never be used in normal and, especially, in formal conversations.

However, as this is just my general observation, it apparently still pays to continue reading and learning from reliable sources and not just believe anything that popular media feed us. This is also to say that writing English is one, articulating or pronouncing it is another.

***

Incidentally, a couple of hours after learning all about these things, I was called by two separate call center companies. I’ll be in for an interview tomorrow somewhere in Laguna.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Phone calls from HR personnel are always egg-citing.)

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Author: crisn

I'm Cris Nacionales from the Philippines.

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