Monday, September 30, 2013

Texted or Texted . . . how should the word be pronounced?

Texted or Texted . . . that is the question. 
Whether tis Nobler to the ear to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of insecure people
Or to take courage and correctly pronounce the word with two syllables.
 Text - ted. Not Texttttttt. 

Look.  I grew up in the sixties and seventies, and back then "text" was a noun, and never a verb. Like "desk," "text" was always a thing, never an action.

It was only in the late 90's that all of a sudden text went from words on a document to something people do on a cell phone.

As a noun, we never had to worry about past tense. What is the past tense of "desk," after all? But since "text" is now not only a noun, but also a verb, the pronunciation of the past tense "texted" suddenly became an issue.

For years I avoided speaking outloud the past tense of the verb so that I wouldn't have to publicly face the dilemma. Every part of my being wanted to use the two-syllable pronunciation, but the first time I said it out loud a family member looked at me and said, "That sounds so ignorant. If you know better than to say 'like-ted,' why would you think it's okay to 'text-ted,' Karen?"

That did serve to give me pause. For quite a while I mentally rephrased my statements before speaking aloud so as not to commit a grammatical faux pas. If I wanted to say "I texted my daughter and asked her to stop by," I would instead say "I just shot my daughter a quick text and asked her to stop by." 

I didn't want people to think that if I thought "texted" was pronounced "text-ted" I also thought that "liked" was pronounced "like-ted."

But the more I thought about it, the more I rejected the "like-ted/text-ted" argument. And I wanna kick myself for ever having accepted it in the first place.

The reason it's wrong to pronounced liked "like-ted" or looked "look-ted" is because it's simply the wrong pronunciation! The past tense for words that end in the "k" sound is to add a "t" sound to the end of the word. Hiked is pronounced "hikedt" not "hike-ted" just like booked is pronounced "bookt" and not "book-ted." Following that rule, liked and looked would have a one-syllable pronounciation, also. To pronounce any other way is incorrect.

On the other hand, words that end with a "st" sound or made past tense by adding a "ted" to the end of the word. Rested is pronounced "rest-ted" not "restt," and nested is pronounced "nest-ted" not "nestt," bested is pronounced "best-ted."

In fact, MANY (not all, but many) words that end with "t" need to have "ted" tacked on to make the change to past tense. Bat becomes "bat-ted," chat becomes "chat-ted," and part becomes "part-ted." But again, ALL words that end with a "st" sound need that second syllable to become past tense.

"Text" ends with a "kst" sound. I offer that AT BEST the pronunciation is up for grabs, but I believe the correct pronunciation is "text-ted" -- following the "st" rule rather than the "k" rule.

So I finally took a deep breath and announced -- in a room full of people -- that "I just 'text-ted' my nephew and told him to pick up some ice cream to go with the cake." I gave a furtive glance over the crowd to see if anyone had that "I thought she was more intelligent," expression on their face. No one did.

BUT! BUT! BUT . . . someone did say, I've always wondered what the correct pronunciation should be. Text or texted.

I gladly spelled out my reasoning, and almost everyone in the room agreed with me upon hearing it. Many even seem relieved to have the, largely unspoken, argument settled once and for all.

However, one person piped up, "I'm sorry. If we all know it's ignorant for people say 'look-ted' it's ignorant to say 'text-ted.'"

I didn't bother to point out again that 'look-ted' is incorrect, but to say 'text-ted' is no more ignorant than it would be say 'rest-ted.' I just gave her an up and down look, then smiled and plastered a "I thought she was more intelligent that," expression on my face and changed the subject.

I can't wait for technology to come up with a way to make "next" a verb!

(okay . . . I just found out that, which is a free online talking dictionary of English pronunciation, says it with two syllables. You can go to to see yourself!)