Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A mistake the size of Kansas?

Does Natasha Bedingfield mispronounce hyperbole on purpose or on accident in "These Words"?

Wikipedia says: Hyperbole (pronounced "hy-PER-buh-lee"; "HY-per-bowl" is a mispronunciation) is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated.

I found a review that said, "'These Words' IS a great single with a moving beat and aspirant lyrics . . . but the mispronunciation of the word 'hyperbole' is pretty cringe-worthy." I do agree that it makes me cringe every time I hear it. For how could she not know how to pronounce it? Side note I don't want to elaborate on but I can't let go: aspirant is a military rank or a person who aspires. So although their usage is technically correct, I think replacing it with aspiring would be more appropriate. Just my opinion, and isn't that what blogs are for?

So, back to the topic. Another review that I read stated: "As perfect a pop single as you'll ever hear, ['These Words' is] the kind of meta-love song that many songwriters attempt, but few manage to pull off successfully. Bedingfield tackles the love-song-about-a-love-song theme with gusto; backed up by lively hip-hop beats, she sings, 'Threw some chords together/ The combination D, E, F,' the aforementioned chords punctuated cleverly by keyboard stabs. Writer's block kicks in, as she searches for ideas, saying, 'Read some Byron, Shelley, and Keats/ Recited it over a hip-hop beat,' conceding facetiously, 'I'm having trouble saying what I mean/ With dead poets and drum machines.' After deciding there's 'no hyperbole to hide behind,' (lovably mispronouncing hyperbole, I might add) she gives up, and simply states the obvious in the swooning chorus: 'There's no better way to say/ I love you, I love you.' Such a combination of self-deprecating humor, sincerity, and irresistible hooks is so rare these days, but Bedingfield does so effortlessly."

I want to agree with the second reviewer. The second reviewer barely thinks it worth mentioning that Natasha mispronounces hyperbole, and they assume that she does so intentionally (to make herself seem more like a character with writer's block). The song is a story of a writer, and she as The Singer is actually playing a part or performing in a play. But I think we should remember that the reviewer is making an assumption about the intention of her mispronunciation.

I'm unconvinced. I'm a big fan of Occam's Razor (as defined from the movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster). And to me, either way--if she's A) an educated writer or poet or whatever, or B) telling the story of an educated writer or poet or whatever . . . either way, an educated person would know how to pronounce hyperbole. So, the simplest explanation is that she should know how to pronounce hyperbole. And furthermore, I do not see any artistic value in mispronouncing hyperbole. But I do see that it is a funky-lookin' word when you see it in print, and I think a phonetically-challenged person would not know by looking at the word how to pronounce it.

Still a great song though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a peeve of mine. i hate that she's mispronounced the word, I agree with you completely, and the song is cute and fun to sing along w/ anyway. :)

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