Book Review: A Linguist’s guide to diction



Author-Sandra Chime-Age

Publishers- Mireya Educational Services Limited

Reviewer: Charles Ike-Okoh

WED, JANUARY 10 2018-theG&BJournal-In the preface Sandra Chime-Age wrote: ‘’the importance of good diction is to convey our thoughts clearly in everyday life using appropriate words and pronouncing them well.’’

That is one trait of English language that is missing in the everyday communication process of an average Nigerian. Truly, most Nigerians don’t really know the importance of diction and the values it can bring to the workplace, the home and in every day conversation. But the thing about mastering diction is that it is useful. Mastering diction helps navigate the complexities and nature of language particularly when it is a foreign language.

In the eight chapter essay packed into a tiny book, Chime-Age, a Linguistics graduate of the University of Benin, Nigeria, underscored the need to master diction. She argues that to ‘’have a good diction is to speak confidently anywhere, anytime and in order for one to employ good diction in everyday language use, one must be able to identify the International Phonetics Alphabets (IPA).’’ This comes into play when you need to check the correct spelling of a particular word or/ and its meaning, she adds.

Her perspective is impeccable and the shadows of her explanations and definitions fall across it. Ignoring those presents the prospect of losing sight of what is most important in a conversation and I am certain that for many, it is difficult to find patterns in the differences of all human languages if not properly equipped in diction.

Chimke-Age’s concern is to introduce the beginner to good diction and in her own words help anyone who is passionate about pronouncing words right to refresh his/her vocabulary or just a knowledge of good diction.

She outlined in the book structure of diction divided into a number of subfields. They include Phonetics/Phonemes which is defined as the study of sounds of human speech using the mouth, throat, nasal and sinus cavities, and lungs.

Vowels; speech and sound which is produced by opening the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction, and which is a unit of the sound system of a language that forms syllable.

Similar clarity and definition are provided for diphthongs, consonants, diagraphs, nasal consonants and the ‘H’ Factor.

Chime-Age as a diction coach and speech therapist herself has for a number of years authored lectures for students and facilitated diction training sessions for journalists and teachers.

In truth, the joy of this book comes more from her excursions and definitions: her brief easy to understand style and her knowledge of the intricacies of language and communication. It is its best as the books of Naom Chomsky, the American linguist whose book was widely used in Nigerian universities. We remain lucky to have this book.

One other plaudit is the lovely cover which cleverly underscores the theme: A guide to correct English pronunciation.

DCSL 90X780