The Red Reel
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Your Political Views Influence How You Pronounce Certain Words, New Study

If you pronounce Iraq as “eye-rack” … you just might be a Republican. This is according to a new study that claims it can predict your political orientation (Republican or Democrat) by how you pronounce certain words.

A new study, conducted by Zachary Jaggers, who is a postdoctoral scholar of linguistics at the University of Oregon, has revealed how you pronounce certain words might give away your political leanings.

Jaggers asked a group of participants to read random sentences out loud. The phrases included the names of foreign places, as well as English words borrowed from foreign languages.

The speech test

After noting their pronunciations of these words, Jaggers asked the participants about their political identities, views and opinions. Then he compared their political stance with their pronunciation of those words and says a predictable speech pattern emerged.

Republicans tended to pronounce the following words this way:

Iraq: “eye-rack.”

Chile: “chill-ee.”

Muslim: “muzz-lum.”

Spiel: “speel.”

Foyer: “foy-er.”

Democrats tended to pronounce the following words this way:

Iraq: “ear-rock.”

Chile: “chee-lay.”

Muslim: “Moose-limb.”

spiel: “shpeel.”

foyer: “foy-ay.”

As an interesting side note, I use voice software to write rather than typing. I tried both pronunciations all of the above words using DragonDictate software and it correctly identified and typed the intended word either way. In other words, both ways I pronounce these words are correct for American English.

The presidential test

Jaggers made a comparison in the difference between how Republican President Donald Trump and former Democratic President Barack Obama pronounced certain words.

Trump pronunciations

Tanzania: “tan-zay-nee-uh.”

Namibia: “nam-bee-uh.”

Obama pronunciations

Tanzania: ” tan-zuh-nee-uh.”

Namibia: “na-mih-bee-uh.”

Jaggers said Obama was a stickler for going out of his way to learn the way native speakers in a foreign land pronounced certain words. Reportedly, the Pakistanis express their appreciation to the White House for Obama’s pronunciation of “Pakistan” correctly as “pock-ee-stahn” rather than the way most Americans say it, which is: “pack-iss-stan.”

You might be a…

In the study, Jaggers also tried to posit people who are more “ardently nationalist” – which he named as Republicans and conservatives – might hold to certain English-style pronunciations out of nationalism, rather than being willing to pronounce foreign or foreign-influenced words like native speakers in those countries do.

It’s worth keeping in mind, this study was essentially one linguists’ opinion.

He seems to forget that people also tend to speak like those they are surrounded by or spend the most time with.

Nonetheless, some of us know the correct way to pronounce words regardless of our political leanings. Regardless of how former President George W. Bush pronounced certain words, I think I can speak freely for many conservatives when I say our political leanings will never make us pronounce “nuclear” as “nuke-cu-lar.” Just saying.