I really, really hope Michael Howard won’t be our new Prime Minister tomorrow. Why? Because I can’t stand the way he pronounces the letter ‘l’. Have you ever heard him talk? Have you heard him say the word people? Now I know I’m not a native speaker of English and shouldn’t really criticize the pronunciation of an anglophone, but I am wondering whether I’m the only one feeling that way.
In my phonetic classes at university, I was taught that there are two ways of pronouncing /l/ in English: when this letter occurs at the beginning of a word, it’s a light /l/, pronounced with the tip of the tongue just behind the top teeth, whereas if it is found in the middle or at the end of a word, it’s a dark /L/, and the tip of the tongue is further back (there are exceptions, it’s a general rule). When he says people, for example, Michael Howard uses a light /l/, not a dark /L/, and I find it MADDENING. He was born in Wales and educated in Cambridge, so this is not an obscure regional variation. Does anyone know where this pronunciation comes from? Am I the only one who’s irritated by it? Isn’t anyone else thinking the same as me? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?