Friday, March 16, 2007

No, Please, Chew In My Ear

When I was in 7th Grade, I enrolled in my first foreign language class. And thus, this post shall be written entirely en français to justify the subsequent seven years I spent learning it. Just kidding! Since Hubby refuses to pratiquer the language with me, I am reduced to a few phrases and lots of Franglais. That's like Spanglish, but with French. Anyway, when you are studying a language, one of the best ways to adopt correct pronunciation is to listen to a native speaker, mimic that speaker, and then listen to yourself mimicking the native speaker. How does one accomplish this when one is surrounded by English-speaking 12-year-olds, many of whom are cursed with a Baltimorean accent? Enter the language lab!

At Pine Grove Middle School (go Panthers!), the language lab comprised about 30 carrels with little tape-recording doo-hickeys embedded into each one. Les étudiants would pop on headsets to listen to both the teacher's instructions and the tape of native French speakers. Le prof would hang out at the front of the room and speak into the microphone to tell us to turn to this page or that page, to press play, and voilà! A Parisien would direct us to la bibliothèque.

In many respects, it was a cool way for a kid in the midst of Baltimore County to pick up on all the guttural emphases that make up the French language. In one respect, it was torturous: our teacher had the unfortunate habit of moistly smacking her lips together many, many, many times. Having that sound RIGHT IN MY EAR made me want to rip off my headphones and stick my fingers as far into my external auditory meatus as they could go. But that was 20 years ago, and the aural agony has faded. Until now.

Oh, Elliot. You're on the air from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. That's 4.5 hours. Can you really not go through a whole shift without eating some gargantuan meal? I can see that you mightn't feel a hunger pang during your pre-dawn commute. So you probably hit a point during your broadcast when all you can think about is food, and have convinced yourself that the show will suffer because you aren't concentrating on your chatter. That point occurs at approximately 8:15 a.m., because that's when all of the lip smacking begins.

Honestly, it sounds like you've stuffed half a 7-Eleven breakfast sandwich in your maw. Even the eating noises wouldn't be so awful if you didn't insist on conducting an interview whilst you masticate. You'll periodically say, "Oh, s'cuse me, I'm eating." Dude! You're a professional radio broadcaster. Professional means you don't do things like stuff your gullet when you're chatting with a Cap. It means that you figure out a way to eat during commercials, or before or after the show, or quietly during Diane's news segment.

Here's the thing: I tune into you for entertainment. I want a little bit of the show to happen behind the curtain, okay? I don't need Saran Wrap-style transparency. Especially when it reminds me of my awkward tween years.

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