Q&A: Pronunciation vs Enunciation vs Elocution

Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week, we’re charged up as we discuss pronunciation…

Q: Hi there – I have a question for you.
A: You’ve come to the right place
Q: What’s the difference between “pronunciation”, “enunciation” and “elocution”? Isn’t that last one when you stick a fork into a power socket?
A: No, that’s electrocution. Very different.
Q: Shocking.
A: Haha.
Q: So what’s the difference? I’m amped to find out.
A: Are you going to persist with electricity puns throughout this whole thing?
Q: I have no idea what you are talking about. Now, let’s switch on to the topic at hand…
A: Hmmm okay, so, let’s start with the first two. “Pronunciation” is simply the act of making sounds or articulating words correctly – the verb being to “pronounce”.
Q: Actually, while we’re on that, why isn’t it “proNOUNciation”?
A: Because, English.
Q: Fair enough.
A: Well, to elaborate, “pronounce” and “pronunciation” had slightly different upbringings – one via Old French and the other direct from Latin. From there it’s the usual semantic roulette.
Q: I played roulette once. Put it all on number 11.
A: And?
Q: Sorry, can’t remember the end of that story.
A: Right. Okay, so that’s pronunciation. Meanwhile, “enunciation” is similar, regarding articulating words – but it specifically relates to the clarity of the sound that you make.
Q: They both seem to be positively charged with similar roles.
A: And the puns are back.
Q: So, what about “elocution”? How does that fit into the grid?
A: Well, elocution sits separate to those other two.
Q: So it’s wired differently?
A: Yes, if you insist. It’s actually the study of pronunciation, grammar, style and tone.
Q: Completely different energy then.
A: Please stop.
Q: Okay, so can you provide an example of each so we can discharge this topic?
A: Sure. “The director – who was an expert in elocution – commented that while the actor’s enunciation was good, their pronunciation wasn’t correct for the American market.”
Q: Who was it? I bet it was Colin Firth or Emma Thompson. They’re rubbish at doing American accents.
A: Not sure. But clearly they didn’t deliver an electrifying performance.
Q: Oh nicely done. Lovely pun powerplay there.
A: You’re welcome. So, anything else?
Q: Just one more thing. What’s “diction”?
A: Well its main meaning refers to the selection of words or phrases by a writer or speaker – hence “dictionary”. But its secondary meaning is synonymous with “enunciation” – the clarity of speech.
Q: Nice. Okay, well that’s enough for me. I’m starting to black out here.
A: Don’t blow a fuse…

Do you have a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore this year? Email it to us today!

Browse posts by category
Browse posts by category

Courses starting soon


Nice one! You've added this to your cart