Monday, March 03, 2008

Speak Alien English Movement (‘Please Mind the Platform Gap’)

Have you heard the bizarre new announcements on SMRT trains recently? If you have, you’ll probably have noticed that the announcer is a Singaporean (many pronunciation features give her away) trying to speak with a posh lilt — and getting it spectacularly wrong.

Perhaps the most outlandish is her reading of the following:

Please \ mind the \ platform \ gap

This is not a recognizable intonation pattern in any accent of English. Perhaps SMRT should employ humans to do their voiceovers, not aliens?

Native speakers of English would probably say something more akin to:

Please mind the \ platform gap

Here’s one of a couple of letters which appeared several weeks ago in response to the ‘improved’ announcements:

(Straits Times Forum, 2 February 2008)


Fox said...

I beg to differ. Native speakers would probably say:

"Please mind \ the platform \ gap."

There would probably be a slight pause between 'platform' and 'gap' because 'form' is not reduced and 'gap' should be emphasized.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

The rules of compound stress would mean that the main stress usually falls on the stressed syllable of the first component, in this case PLAT. I do agree that 'gap' may be stressed too; however, I'm not so sure that there would be stress and a falling intonation on 'the' (as you've marked it).