Being interviewed by Dirk Lagerwaard for his NovELTies vlog: click here. Among the topics up for discussion is the idea of ‘correctness’ in the context of pronunciation. I suggest that mostly, there’s no such thing as ‘correct’. When people say things like ‘No, it’s not pronounced like that’, they are using a sneaky passive. Not pronounced BY WHO? By what right do these ghostly referees define what is correct and what is not?
I suggest that ‘pronunciation is not just for show; it does the work of communicating’. From that perspective, ‘correct’ can be replaced by ‘effective’ as the main objective in pronunciation teaching and learning.
As an exception to this observation, I suggest that spelling-induced mispronunciations can be considered as errors – for example, pronouncing ‘pear’ as a homophone of ‘peer’. But then again, if enough people started pronouncing it that way, it would no longer be incorrect!