I haven’t told my bosses yet, but this newspaper might have to change its name.
Late last year, a retired public relations consultant and translator from the United Kingdom posted a video online in which he made a new suggestion for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Peter Prowse, who made it clear in the video that he was joking but insisted his idea is based in science, said we spit more when we say certain consonants.
It turns out that more saliva droplets are expelled from our mouths when stop consonants, also known as plosives, are pronounced. The big culprits are “p,” “t” and “c.”
In his video, which went viral, Prowse light-heartedly suggested replacing these letters in our everyday speech with “n,” “f” and “l.”
News stories about the video included interviews with scientists who confirmed that the joke has a scientific foundation.
Robyn Schofield, an atmospheric chemist from the School of Earth Sciences at Melbourne University, said certain sounds do indeed project more spit than others.
However, she also pointed out there is no evidence that removing these sounds from our speech would do much to reduce the spread of COVID.
The volume at which we speak is more relevant, she added, so keep that in mind the next time you knock your thumb with a wrench while working on the combine.
Prowse had some thoughts on where this all should lead.
“Based on this new evidence, the (British) government is introducing new rules in stages to make people’s speech less dangerous and slow the spread of COVID-19,” he said before demonstrating for his viewers exactly what would be expected of them.
Anyone speaking in a “fublic flace will have to stof using the flosive sound. Failure to do so will lead to a fine, or even frison,” he said.
“The whole fofulation, even members of Farliament, will all have to flay their fart in this.”
Adopting these new speech patterns would have a widespread impact on all of us, including journalists.
Radio and TV reporters would be most affected, of course, but what about those working in print? I’m wondering if our reporters would have to start thinking about this when writing their newspaper stories on the off chance that someone decided to read them out loud.
And then there’s our name of course — The Wesfern Nroducer, anyone?