I would like to make a confession: I have gingham syndrome.
I know I’m not the only one afflicted with it, though I’ve never seen numbers anywhere.
In case you don’t know, gingham syndrome (aptly named by my dad) is when someone doesn’t know how to pronounce certain words because that person primarily writes and reads.
Take me. I’m a writer. I read all the time. But I don’t really watch TV, so I miss out on that verbal communication. That leads me to mispronouncing words such as gimgham (or in my case, “jin-jam”) or gala (“gah-lah”). When I’m reading, that’s just how I say it in my head.
My spelling is fine; it’s just my pronunciation that needs work.
There’s no cure for gingham syndrome other than watching more TV, which would cause problems of its own (time management concerns, for instance). I’m moving into my apartment in fewer than two weeks, and I don’t own or plan on buying a TV. So I remain the way I am, letting my reading cause conversation faux pas.
This may create problems besides not knowing how to pronounce vocabulary. I know what’s going on in the news and can discuss literature to some extent, but it doesn’t sound that way when I mispronounce “gala.” For better or worse, the other people in the conversation probably think I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I could blame the random rules of English pronunciation, but I won’t. I don’t want to criticize my consistency-challenged friend by asking why it can’t be more like Spanish.
It’s not you, English. It’s me.
The next time I trip over an easy word, I’ll remind myself: If only I would watch more TV, I could become well-spoken.