Lazy speech equals lazy thinking

Tony Morgan writes: Re. “Grammar an early casualty as ABC cuts costs” (April 1). Whilst I agree with all of what Myriam Robin wrote concerning grammatical issues within the ABC and future issues now that Coalition cuts to funding have been implemented, the article did raise the issue of pronunciation and its monitoring by SCOSE (Standing Committee on Spoken English), the internal pronunciation database of the ABC. In fact the ABC has been let down for many years by the apparent non pro-activeness of this system and whilst the general public are not privy to the “regular reports to staff” on pronunciation matters it has been obvious to me that the system has not been working for over four years – when I first raised a pronunciation by presenters and staff on the ABC of the word vulnerable (pronounced VUL-NER-ABLE).

Now I don’t expect presenters and journalists to know the pronunciation of all the various towns and locations as many of them may require local knowledge and are sometimes tricky — for example, “Eungella”, a national park west of Mackay in central Queensland and pronounced “YOUNG-ELLA” — but I do expect presenters on radio and television to know the correct pronunciation of everyday words such as vulnerable, particularly as it is used much more frequently to describe a person(s) or situation in need of protection because they are defenceless against the actions of others. We use the word when describing groups such as children (including children in detention, the elderly, the sick, pensioners and asylum seekers just to mention a few. I have always held ABC presenters as the guardians of proper English and am so disappointed at the lack of proper pronunciation of this word in particular.

Professor Roly Sussex, emeritus professor of Applied Language Studies at the School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies of the University of Queensland, and a regular guest on radio ABC has expressed his concern at this lazy pronunciation of the word vulnerable. It is not only the presenters that concern me but also the myriad of the population, in particular CEOs, doctors, university trained people (including professors) and our ever renowned politicians. I have even written to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to advise her that there is no letter “O” in vulnerable. I have heard her and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pronounce it “VON-RABLE”, even when there is no letter  “o”, so how can we expect politicians to be able to read and interpret documents, laws etc  if they somehow read the letter “O” in a word that does not contain one.

Most mispronunciations speak the word as “VUN-RABLE”, ignoring the first letter “l” in the word. It is not difficult to pronounce the word correctly, yet hundreds of interviewees, interviewers and ordinary people making verbal comments are doing so incorrectly and who obviously have not bothered to read the written word or even write it down. Like Myriam, I wonder where our language will end up, particularly if this excuse for a government continues to defund our national broadcaster. They will never ever receive my vote again.

A quick way to get tax out of multinationals

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “ATO refuses to hand over tax evaders for fear companies won’t like it anymore” (yesterday). Outside Australian jurisdiction there is no way of proving the extent of inflated deductions applied to Australian income. Looking at the Apple case: they claim a $6 billion turnover in Oz.  Their expenses are about $5.7 billion paid to Ireland and a bit here in Oz, and their net profit is under $300 million on which they pay about $80 million company tax. The real profit on sales turnover is probably about 50%, but after they pay all the fees and expenses to Ireland it drops to something like 5% of turnover for Oz company tax.  The problem is attacking the legitimacy of Apple’s Irish fees and expenses … you know … marketing, licenses etc. If the $6 billion turnover was taxed directly at a rate of anywhere between 2% and 5%, depending on the industry or the policy objectives of the Australian government, then Apple would pay something like $120-$300 million in tax,  not $80 million. A gutsy Abbott-Hockey government could do this tomorrow.

The disappointment of the energy white paper

Anne Findlay writes: Re. “The winners and losers of Abbott’s energy white paper (SPOILER: Tony likes coal)“. It’s so dispiriting to see a supposedly “considered” white paper on energy trot out one-eyed dodgy views yet again. Aren’t there any scientists or forward-thinking economists who can sensibly look at the RET or renewable energy sources and put forward an alternative vision of the future that the LNP can call upon for a trustworthy forecast? This is an insult to most Australians, who want to see more energy from renewable sources, to see polluters penalised, emissions standards upheld, climate goals set, the environment given more than a cursory dismissive glance and the RET increased.

Peter Fray

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