There is no one-letter word in our language pronounced "ay"
But listen for five minutes to TV news or any political speech, and you'd start to wonder.
Recently I was listening to a youthful (and quite exuberant) newscaster on TV delivering breaking news on a rather serious subject. In her effort to emphasize the seriousness and drama of the situation, she regularly pronounced “a” as “ay,” a long A sound. She seemed to think that such an incorrect pronunciation ramped up the emphasis or importance: It wasn’t just a rifle. It was “ay” hunting rifle! Police on the scene said “ay” serious crime was committed here.
If she had done it only once or twice, I might have been able to stay the course and let her finish her newscast. As her exuberance bubbled up, though, so did her mispronunciation of the simplest word in the English language; I had to change the channel.
The President of the United States mispronounces “a” to provide emphasis. So do many other political figures and activists when being interviewed on television. Poor little “a,” correctly pronounced as “uh,” doesn’t seem to do the job anymore.
The only time “a” (uh) is not the correct choice is when it precedes a vowel and therefore must be changed to “an.” It is never, ever correct to pronounce “a” as “ay.” And yet, every week that little old article, “a” (uh) loses ground to the other ridiculous pronunciation. At this point, I can’t find a news reporter who consistently gets it right. Could it be that, in this world of never-ending, round-the-clock broadcasting, overlaid with a continually thickening blanket of social media noise, our TV personalities subconsciously grasp at any foothold that might make their report a little more dramatic than its competitors? What do you think? Are we losing our tiniest important little word, or am I being oversensitive?