Friday, July 20, 2007

Basic Etiquette

One of the basic elements in etiquette is acknowledging a person’s correct name and that of his country.

Therefore, it is imperative that a person unfamiliar with the way of pronouncing a name of place in another tongue should make it a point to find out the CORRECT pronunciation and then pronounce it the correct way.

But for some strange reasons no one in the broadcast media – from the top man to lineman seem to care.

A glaring observation by many radio and television audiences in California – a state once populated and belonging to Mexico – is the seeming lack of interest or desire by radio and television announcers and anchor-persons to pronounce Spanish words correctly.

Among the guilty culprits are the news announcers and reporters.

For some reasons, announcers who appear to look like second generation Asians are the even better ones who take great pains in pronouncing the Spanish words precisely more than the local borns do.

A recent incident that I can cite here is the earthquake in Paso Robles.

Now Paso Robles IS a Spanish name. It means “pass of the oaks.”

But almost ALL the Caucasians pronounced the word “Robles” sounding like ROW BALLS. The correct pronunciation sounds like “NO BLESS.”

But this is just one of hundreds of words and places in California mispronounced by radio and TV announcers and newscasters.

The other glaring words we hear daily are: SAN RA FA EL (they say SAN RAY-FEL) Vicente (they say VIE CENT TEE), and even JOAQUIN many pronounce JOKE KWIN until they realize a valley is named San Joaquin and then correct themselves accordingly.

It seems strange that in Manila, the rule that binds announcers in the radio and TV stations were established by ex-GIs after WWII who were discharged and married Filipino women.

To name one, Bob Stewart who married and became manager of DZBB and later on Channel 7, inculcated among his announcers to double check the right pronunciation of words with a pronouncing dictionary (yes, there is one such book).

And foreign words are even more tricky especially if they are European languages like German and French and even Russian.

As a rule, Filipino announcers take pains in articulating words regardless of its origin and thus come out speaking more clearly than most Americanized announcers.

During the early fifties and sixties American network announcers seemed more careful in pronouncing words.

This was the time when articulate and exemplary announcers like Walter Cronkite, Charles Kurault, Charles Osgood, became the models of young budding announcers in Philippine media.

In fact, to date Walter Cronkite enjoys the respect of listeners and officials of the broadcast media here and abroad.

He still speaks in his low-voiced, well-paced articulate manner.

Another strange thing that commercials seem to have adopted these days is delivering a voiced commercial at rapid fire speed as if one were competing in “the fastest speaker” contest.

Among the better announcers in Manila stations were Ray Oliver, Dick Taylor, Cris de Vera, Vero Perfecto who spoke also Spanish, five dialects and in impeccable English and with a clear baritone voice.

Cris de Vera even ventured in speaking with a British accent in imitation of James Mason the actor – and very well indeed.

What is the big deal, someone might ask? The big deal is that in polite society one has to make sure he pronounces a person’s name correctly.

Therefore, saying SAN RAY-FEL and VIE CENT TEE and JOKE KWIN violates common politeness and therefore it is a breach of etiquette, which commercial announcers should know and be aware of!

I do hope someone from the mainstream broadcast media reads this and takes time to hold a Spoken Communication clinic especially for their announcers since these individuals are paid a lot of money – much more than executives of other professions and therefore are obligated to do their job professionally well – which includes pronouncing foreign words like Spanish places in California.

We owe it to the Latinos and Spanish-speaking citizens in California and other states whose tongue we are murdering!

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Two Arresting Figures -

In the age of excellent images boosted by modern media technology, it is interesting to note that the world – yes the global population thanks to internet and cable TV – is continually attuned to changes that they See and Hear. Indeed, the movies have shaped our world so much that the viewing the negative side it is terrifying – as in bad movies with destructive themes, or with violent messages.
Spike Lee
I have singled out two of the influential movie directors who have stirred the mind and emotions of millions living today .

The first one is Spike Lee who made, among other excellent films DO THE RIGHT THING. Starting with his first film SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, a comedy, Lee burst into the cinema limelight of America as one of the very few black directors at the time with substance.

Lee’s message is in the interaction of the blacks with non blacks which in film a good director can put it loud for all to hear!

In DO THE RIGHT THING Spike focused on the recurring racial conflicts in Manhattan. Again in 1990, with Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes), he featured an interracial romance titled JUNGLE FEVER followed by Malcolm X (1992, starring Washington and based in part on the book by Malcolm X and Alex Haley).
As a sort of Hitchcockish trait, Lee has often appeared in his own films, like his appearance in She's Gotta Have It.

The second personality is Michael Moore and his latest documentary production “Sicko” already creating a sensation in the country, especially in the field of American health care area perhaps because of its seductive timeliness as in his earlier movie Fahrenheitt 11 which clearly analyzed events that led to the September 11, 2001 attack by Arab terrorists.

Moore was born in Flint, Michigan to Veronica, a secretary, and Frank Moore, an automotive assembly-line worker.[1] He grew up in the city of Davison. At the time, the neighboring city of Flint was home to many General Motors factories, where his parents and grandfather worked.

When Moore produced the anti-gun carrying movie Bowling for Columbine, Americans who desperately clung to their “Constitutional right to bear arms” were incensed. Still many took notice and sat up to review once again whether GUNS in American life was so important.

It is significant to note that Moore was brought up Roman Catholic and attended St. John's Elementary School for primary school, as well as a Diocesan seminary at age 14. Perhaps, this attests for the fact that he truly loves human life and losing the victims of guns especially the youth really affects him a lot. A director comes to mind too - Oliver Stone who always works hard at his documentary and like Moore puts his own capital to be able to endorse a message or thesis before the citizens of the world.

Moore, an Eagle Scout, considers it an achievement of which he is still very proud. For his Eagle Project, he filmed a documentary pointing out various safety hazards in his community.

1986, when Moore became the editor of Mother Jones, a liberal political magazine.
Moore stayed with the magazine for only a short while, before working for Ralph Nader. In 2003, the Star-Ledger printed an opinion piece by Paul Mulshine that claimed to know the terms of Moore's exit from Mother Jones Mulshine quoted Paul Berman, who stated that Moore had been fired following a series of clashes with people on the magazine's staff, including a dispute over Moore's refusal to publish an article by Berman that was critical of the Sandinistas' human rights record. Before Moore's arrival, the magazine had commissioned the article. Moore later sued Mother Jones for wrongful dismissal, seeking $2 million. He finally accepted a settlement of $58,000 — the amount of anticipated trial costs — from the magazine's insurance company. Some of this money provided partial funding for his first film project, Roger and Me.

Moore has been married to producer Kathleen Glynn (born April 10, 1958 in Flint) since 1990. They now live in New York City and spend quite a bit of time in Traverse City, where Moore founded the Traverse City Film Festival. Natalie (born 1981) is Michael's stepdaughter. He has no other children. Moore is a practicing Catholic.

Michael Moore