DEAR MISS MANNERS: Ma’am, will you state an opinion about the public-address announcements that we all encounter? Is it as much of an aggravation to you as it is to me?
I hear so many nearly unintelligible loudspeaker announcements. No one has taught the speakers to account for echo.
They should speak in short bursts, one sentence at a time, pausing a single beat before they say the next. Think of a circus announcer, pausing before phrases -- not speaking 200 words without a pause. There is a time lag between their lips and our ears, and the echo must have a moment to fade before they continue. They can still speak rapid-fire, just break up the sentences.
I hear well-meaning people, maybe in an airport, maybe in a grocery store, enthusiastically doing their announcements speaking 170 words per minute. I wonder why it seems no one trains these people to speak in short phrases. Why is it not in every training manual?
Since I have never seen it addressed, I wonder if I am the only person whom it aggravates and who considers it to be downright rude.
GENTLE READER: Not everything unfortunate is rude. Miss Manners cannot be responsible for mere professional incompetence.
So this is not a topic she should address.
However, she has sat in enough airline lounges and subway cars, subjected to just that sort of incomprehensible babble, to overcome her resistance. So yes, she shares your annoyance. Whether it is the speakers who need more training, or the system that needs to be upgraded, something should be done to inform us poor folk of the next stop and the gate change.