The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule of Spoken English

In 1854, the word diastema/daɪsti:mə/ was first used to mean a space between teeth. Little did I know that tooth gap is a health issue until this write up. When the gap is at the upper front teeth, it could make a smile look really cute. Surprisingly though, some persons are not comfortable with diastema or tooth gap.

As you read this script, you also can see spaces or gaps between words. Gaps between words make writing look attractive, presentable and readable.

WhatifIwrotewithoutanyspacesbetweenwords?

As you can see, it’s not readable and it does not appeal to our sense of writing and reading. It looks awkward but does not altogether sound awkward. This explains the difference between writing and speaking. We deliberately create spaces between words when we write, but consciously close the spaces when we speak. This is what makes the difference between writing and speaking.

Why do we create spaces when we write?

We create spaces when we write for three strategic reasons: clarity of understanding of individual words; clarity of expressing the writers thought without ambiguity and for proper pronunciation of, especially, content words. Be that as it may, we do not speak the way we write. When this happens, that is, when we speak the way write, we sound awkward and unnatural; we lack fluency and fluidity of expression. We also appear to be poor speakers of English and may not be easily understood by English speakers who may rate us as uneducated. When we speak the way we write, leaving spaces between words, we make English sound like a syllabic language like most African languages.

How would you rate a person who pronounces however as how ever, although as all though, moreover as more over, thereafter as there after, nevertheless as never the less, whenever as when ever, and on? Obviously, this person speaks in syllables and may confuse their audience. This sort of speaker may as well split words into syllables as they speak: planet becomes pla net, enter becomes en ter, difficult may as well be expressed as dif fi cult just as newsletter becomes news let ter. Speaking in this manner is neither interesting nor listenable. So how do we close spaces when we speak English? By applying the Golden Rule of spoken English.

The Golden Rule of Spoken English

If you want to sound natural and English when you speak English, you must know, understand and apply what I describe as the golden rule of spoken English. The rule says that when a word ends in a consonant and the word next to it begins in a vowel, close the space between the two words. The space is closed when you link the two words and sound them as one. Do you recall when airport was written as air port? Or air-port? Probably not! as the word was first used in 1902, more than a hundred years ago. Even when air and port are written as two words, and we say them as airport, we have closed the space or the gap.

The Golden Rule in Use

In writing, letters connect with each other to form words. So when reading or speaking, we strive to connect letters so words don’t sound awkward. In this same way too, words connect with each other when we speak English properly.

The golden rule says: When a word ends in a consonant, and the next word begins in a vowel, connect the final consonant to the beginning vowel. whena wordendsina consonant, andthe next word beginsina vowel, connectthe final consonantto the beginning vowel.

Here, When a becomes whena (one word 1+1 = 1) word ends in a becomes wordendsina (one word 1+1+1+1= 1).

The Golden Rule and the Intrusive R

Rule: When a word ends in letter A and the next word begins with a vowel, we invite ‘r’ to close the space between the two words.

            Written                                                           Spoken

  1. The idea is good.                                                   The idearis good
  2. Paula is a mistress.                                               Pualarisa mistress.
  3. Is Argentina in the finals?                                   Argentinarisin the finals
  4. Is Sandra in your group?                                     Is Sandrarin yourgroup?
  5. Linda is a beautiful girl.                                       Lindarisa beautiful girl.
  6. You can go with Amanda if you like.                 You can go withAmandarif you like.
  7. America is the country I love most.                  Americaris the countryI love most.
  8. Africa is a dark continent.                                  Africarisa darkcontinent.
  9. You can travel to Angola if you wish.               You can travel to Angolarif you wish.
  10. Agrippa is a deep sleeper.                                   Agripparisa deep sleeper

Just as I never knew that diastema was a defect, you too may not have known that spaces between words was a kind of defect in spoken English. Now that you know, would you close the space or leave it open?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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