Think I’m too strict on grammar and language? If so, you should do yourself a favor and not waste your time auditioning to play the game show Wheel of Fortune.
A Florida woman was on a winning streak towards with the puzzle “Seven Swans a Swimming” until she actually attempted to solve it. That’s because when she pronounced the well-known phrase from the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” she dropped the final g, and “swimming” came out as “swimmin’”.
The judges ruled her incorrect. Even host Pat Sajak was caught by surprise: he’d started congratulating her until he had to stop and tell her that they couldn’t accept her answer. The next contestant, who ended up winning despite being unsure of what the problem was, gave the same answer, but she didn’t drop that g and was declared the winner.
The first contestant, who lost a $3,800 victory on the judge’s call, said the dropped-g was simply how she spoke, being from the South. She even pointed out that she called for the letter g during game play, so she clearly knew there was one.
But the judge ruled that her answer wasn’t acceptable because “it was spoken in the vernacular.”
I can understand being strict enough to require that every letter be enunciated sufficiently. But this one is a gray area, because how many people would add a completely unnecessary a before the word but then enunciate the ending g? Adding the non-sense a certainly is meant to even the number of syllables for each gift: the twelve drummers are not “a-drumming.” But they, along with the eleven pipers piping and nine ladies dancing, already have four syllables each.
So musically, the extra syllable does serve a point. In practical usage, though, you’d be unlikely to enunciate the ending g right after adding the a. The “countrified”-sounding a would come from people who’d almost certainly roll the verb off the tongue without that last letter.
The only difference is that as a contestant, you’re reading what’s on the board, not saying it the way you’d actually be more likely to pronounce it. The rules of the show, I’m told, actually specify that you must pronounce each word correctly and completely, which is why for years contestants have read their solutions like they were auditioning for a part in a Vincent Price biopic.
Fans of the show certainly wasted no time complaining about ‘Wheel’s’ ruling on social media. Some called Sajak a “pronunciation Nazi” while others accused the show of “hating Southerners.”
What do you think?
Would you have given the contestant the benefit of the doubt, or would you have called her answer wrong for dropping the g?