Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sick of "Sikth"...

I have to have a short rant.

It concerns the ordinal number '6th'. It seems the English don't know how to pronounce it any more.

It is spellt 'S-I-X-T-H' ok? The 'X' is pronounced 'KS' as always and not 'K'...and after that comes a 'TH'.'

Now it might be difficult for French or German speakers to get their tongues around the 'th' bit and Ancient Persians would have had trouble with the 'ks' which is why you get hotels in the Middle East called 'Al Eskander' from a mispronunciation of 'Alexander', but for English speakers it IS NOT DIFFICULT!

The number is 'sixth' and NOT 'sikth'!

To my ears "sikth" sounds like the kind of thing you hear in infant school where young kids say, "a likkel boy" and when I hear 6th pronounced as 'sikth' I get ektremely ekasperated.

In fact 'sikth' is harder to say than 'sixth'. The 's' between the 'k' and the 'th' is pretty well automatic when you move your tongue from the 'k' postion to the 'th' position. Try it (make sure you are on your own though!)

It wouldn't be so bad if I could say it's only ignorant plebs who pronounce 6th in this way but it is alarmingly prevalent on the BBC too.

Now, I love the BBC...I love the programmes, the style, the humour and even their attempt to include speakers with regional accents amongst their announcers...but 'sikth' is too much to accept. I mean all the speakers on the beeb must be able to say six-thirty: "...that episode of Scrunge your Burzlecocks will be repeated tomorrow at six thirty..." so if they can manage that they can manage 6th...it is six-thirty without the 'irty'.

And there is one more rant while I am at it...there is a series at the moment and which goes on over the next weeks of cookery shows in which two top chefs from the various regions of Britain battle it out to be picked to cook for the Queen's birthday banquet in June(?). It's called, the Great British Menu.

There are 2 chefs ok...remember that.

On this same programme there is an oldish blonde bird who kind of gets in the way and says the same things all the time in her voice-overs. And one of the same things she says all the time is, 'the judges will decide which of the two chefs is the best...', '...which of the two menus is the best...'
I quite often made the other members of the family jump last week as she finally got to me and I found myself correcting her at first in a normal voice and then shouting, "the better of the two...the BETTER of the TWO...you stupid cow!!!"

The fact that José Moanrinho, manager of Chelski says this all the time when his team loses to Liverpool ('the best team lost') does not mean that it has become acceptable any more than his other insane claims are.

Strangely the only person I heard on the beeb last week who got it right was the Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel (an American!).

Anyway rant over, I will go and pick the best of my two kinds of coffee and have my sikth cup...


piksea said...

Just thinking of sikth, makes my tongue feel weird. Eek.

Manjusha said...

I have similar issues with the American pronunciation of ‘Aluminium’ & the Dubya version of ‘nuclear’.

Barbara said...

If you are going to fix all the misspronounced words in the English language one rant at a time you will be ranting 'til the cows come home. Good luck with that. The one that bugs me is 'ask' pronounced axe.
Thank you for dropping by my place.

Neutron said...

Thanks for visiting! Good to see that some of us still care about the language!

jay said...

Oooh, there are so many of these mispronunciations today. It used to make me really irritated, but ...

Since my mother grew old, I have been subjected to a barrage of malapropisms and mispronounced words and I'm afraid in the end, for the sake of sanity, you have to learn to ignore them, otherwise it would drive you insane.

The first I remember was 'cereal' pronounced 'surreal'. Since then she's added many more, but these days I hardly notice - and of course, that ability to ignore the mistakes spills over into other conversations so that my ear has become desensitised.


lourdes64 said...

At last!I thought it was just me!I went to live in Italy in 1988 and when I came back in 2002 someone had stolen the X in SIXTH AND the MIDDLE F in FIFTH!EVEN THE BBC PRESENTERS ARE DOING IT!
And while I am on a rant,also,why do the English respond to the question "HOW ARE YOU?" with "YEAH THANKS" ??Shouldn't it be-""FINE/NOT BAD/OR HOWEVER THEY ARE FEELING AT THE TIME" AND NOT "YEAH"

Anonymous said...

A BBC continuity announcer just mentioned George the Sikth.

And Jeremy Paxman does this all the time on University Challenge: both the Sikth and the Fith.

So I found myself Googling to see if I had lived my life in ignorance of the correct pronunciation.

So thanks for your blog post, it's the Beeb that's wrong.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! I am an expat american living in london and when i point out the mispronunciation of sixth they look at me like I'm mad. I started thinking perhaps i was wrong.
PS Manjusha: no need to have 'similar issues' with US pronunciation of aluminum - it's spelled differently, so just deal with it. Nucular, however, that's 'a whole nother' thing! [have you noticed a whole nother catching on? i;ve even heard people in the their 60s say it.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Neutron!