Shhhhhhh!

I’ve heard that sound so much lately that my head is reeling.

Television news reporters and anchors use it, meteorologists, actors, talk show hosts, public figures — the list goes on.

They say:

“The shhhtrawberries are in season.”

“Conssssshtruction workers fell to their deaths.”

“Police received a dishhtress call.”

“Boston Shhhtrong.”

“She said she gets her shhtrength from her family.”

If we had pronounced the ‘str” sound “shhhtr” when we were in grammar school in the 1960s, our teachers would have corrected us and made us pronounce it repeatedly until we got it right. Some would have rapped us on the side of the head, but that was another time.

My maternal grandmother, a teacher, was always correcting us when we said things like, “I’m going to go lay down.”

“It’s LIE,” she’d say. “LIE down.”

My grandmother was big on pronunciation, enunciation, diction and elocution.

If she were alive today and could hear these TV people speak, she’d have a stroke.

If I, as a child, said that one tree was further away from another, she’d correct me: “It’s farther … FARTHER,” she’d say.

I think she believed that the more she corrected us, the more we’d be likely to get it — and she was right.

Whenever I hear someone tell a dog to “go lay down,” I can hear her voice in my head: “It’s lie down…LIE down!”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people use the non-word “irregardless,” regardless of the fact that their teachers probably told them repeatedly there is no such word.

Another thing that bothers me when I watch the television news is hearing reporters and anchors drop a “g,” as in, “The meanderin’ river,” or, “She used all the strenth she could muster to get out of the river.”

Is it just me, or have we become lax in our language?

Are teachers not as vigilant, or is it that they don’t view language as important?

Perhaps they are doing just fine and students now don’t listen, don’t care or don’t have a clue?

I’m surprised that some people land jobs in the communications field when they are not the best communicators. I’m even more surprised that they manage to squeak by, apparently, their bosses’ scrutiny. Maybe their bosses don’t know that “the car struck the truck” should not be read aloud as “the car shhtruck the truck?” If that’s the case, then it’s a pathetic one.

How are we to teach our children the proper way to speak when they hear people in public mispronouncing words all over the place? How are kids ever to trust us?

I don’t want to appear to be holier than thou, but if our old teachers from the 1960s succeeded in drumming correctness into us, what has happened since?

We were always told that speaking clearly would help us get jobs and succeed in the world. I don’t understand how someone whose job it is to communicate clearly can get away with just the opposite and maintain a job.

But, hey, maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

The world has changed — there’s no doubt about that — but aren’t some things still sacred?

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 26 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]