Linguistics experts tackle the curse of Jeremy Hunt’s name

Posted on June 13, 2019 by



You never know when linguistic expertise may be required. It could be aliens attempting contact with Earthlings, or it could be Victoria Derbyshire dropping the c-word on air. In doing so, she joined a long list of journalists mispronouncing the name of the Conservative leadership candidate, Jeremy Hunt. Why does this keep happening?

In this article on WIRED UK, LEL’s Pat Strycharczuk explains how likely it is that the mispronunciation is triggered by the similarity between [h] and [k]. Not very. Instead, other forces are conspiring to trigger this error, such as anticipating a following [k], e.g. in Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary (here it is by James Naughtie). It could also be that the slip becomes strongly associated with the name, due to its shock factor, and it starts making an appearance in high-pressure situations, such as broadcasting live.

This is Pat’s second media appearance this week (she’s on a roll), following an article on speech variation published by The Conversation (no swear words in that one).