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Error Magnified and Exacerbated

There is always a kind of figure-ground relation between linguistic errors and the grammatically correct context in which they are embedded. Consequently, when a native speaker who is otherwise articulate and speaks the standard language makes an error, it tends to create an outsized effect.

This phenomenon was recently demonstrated in an NPR report broadcast by the Middle East and Africa correspondent, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, a speaker of standard American English (despite the Hispanic name) educated in the U. K. and the U. S. A. Her speech generally makes the impression of a carefully cultivated preciosity bordering on prissiness, so that when she mispronounced the word cache to rhyme with cachet, it had a jarringly percussive effect on this listener. Quod erat demonstrandum.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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