Book title: Strictly Speaking (Pronunciation Made Easy)
Author: Bimbo Oloyede
Publisher: Concept Publication Limited
Year of Publication: 2016
Reviewer: Dele Adetiba
Strictly Speaking is not the book many people think it is. It is not the book I thought it was either – which is a local version of Daniel Jones, that famous international book of English pronunciation. Whereas Daniel Jones is largely a kind of compilation of English words and how they are pronounced, ‘Strictly Speaking’ does that and much more. It also deals with English Expressions and how they are used and what is commonly called Nigerian English. You will be surprised how commonplace certain expressions have become even when they are essentially local fabrications.
My task is to review this book with a view to relating it to the corporate world and the arts. Because the book is almost like a test book, I will do less of a review and concentrate on relating the book to the needs of a corporate manager. The question is: Who can benefit from the book? One cardinal point in image building is perception.
When someone meets you for the first time he will sum you up from the way you are dressed and the way you speak. He is not to know that you have a doctorate in a particular discipline or you head some large organization. And first impressions take time to change, it is therefore important that one is able to present a good impression at all times, which is why I will recommend the book to all managers and anyone who speaks in public.
The book starts by stating an important element of the English language which is that spelling is not a guide when it comes to pronunciation. It quotes a book by Bill Bryson titled Mother Tongue. It says: If there is one thing certain about English pronunciation it is that there is nothing certain about it. No language in the world has more words spelled the same way and yet pronounced differently. The import of this statement is that you must endeavour to learn the pronunciation of each word by itself. (Village Headmaster – louse/lice, mouse/mice, house/hise).
I make bold to say that the book is a DIY aid because there is enough in the book to start anyone from the very beginning. The first step is to recognize that English is not our first language and we, therefore, need to work at it The book deals with vowels, the short and the elongated vowel sounds with examples such as hit/heat, chick/cheek. It also has a chapter on consonants of course. To make things easy the book starts from the known to the unknown leading from Yoruba’s a e e i o o u to a e I o u. You also have the equivalent vowel sounds in Hausa, Igbo, Efik etc. Different strokes for different folks. At each step you have exercises to encourage practice before going to the next stage.
On the subject of Nigerian English, the author had a number of hilarious examples such as “he left here not quite long” instead of “he left not long ago or “am coming” when you mean “I will soon be back.” You also have “do you get” “reverse back “or “return back” “it doesn’t worth it”.
The book is accompanied with a CD which serves as a guide to show how the various words and expressions should be called. In fact, the author makes the point that practice makes perfect. In other words, you may not acquire Oxford accent and inflections overnight, but with dedication, we can all call each word appropriately and thereby lose our tribal intonation.
Finally, the book deals with Correct Stress which is vital for the appropriate interpretation of a piece or sentence. I find it fascinating. We do it on a daily basis with varying degrees of success. Take this sentence for instance: “I really like that long red dress.”
At the end of the day it will all depend how much we want to speak properly. But that begins when we accept that we may not have been speaking in English all these years. (Krad/Koleade) The book gives us a chance to test out our diction in the privacy of our bedrooms and to do something about it. The book also shows how easy it can be.
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