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NPR journalist Stu Rushfield’s pronounciation of the word emu sparks outrage in Australia


Not emu-sed! US journalist’s pronunciation of the word ’emu’ sparks Aussie outrage – but could he be right?

  • U.S. journalist Stu Rushfield pronounced emu ‘ee-mooh’ during a broadcast
  • Australian’s quickly grew furious as said the name was pronounced ‘ee-mew’  
  • Mr Rushfield said he had never heard it pronounced any different growing up

By Tom Place For Daily Mail Australia

Published: | Updated:

Australians have been outraged at the apparent butchering of the pronunciation of the word ’emu’ by a U.S. journalist.   

In a story published by National Public Radio on Saturday journalist Stu Rushfield spoke about a missing emu in the U.S. which he pronounced as ‘ee-moo’ instead of the Australian pronunciation of ‘ee-mew’.

The audio clip gained a huge amount of attention online as furious Australians blasted Mr Rushfield.

U.S. journalist Stu Rushfield pronounced emu as ‘ee-mooh’ during a radio broadcast which quickly went viral as Australians slammed the apparent butchering of the word

The journalist opened up a discussion on Twitter to settle the correct pronunciation before the story went to air but quickly decided on ‘ee-moo’.

‘After discussions with editors & the NPR RAD team (Research, Archives & Data), the ruling is that ee-moo wins,’ he said.

‘I’ve found videos featuring American zoologists from all over the country who say ‘ee-moo.’ If zoologists can say it, so can audio engineers.’

The reasoning was not accepted by many Australians online who said that Americans do not get to decide how it should be pronounced.

‘How about discussing it with linguists or Australians or taking the OED’s (Oxford English Dictionary) word for it? It is definitely and absolutely ee-mew,’ a woman said.

‘Maybe listen to how the people who live where the bird lives actually pronounce it and respect their pronunciation? Aussies say ee-mew and so should everyone else,’ another man said.  

Furious Australians responded to the pronunciation of the word on Twitter but Mr Rushfield did not back down

ABC Language researcher Tiger Webb said ‘ee-moo’ was commonly accepted as the correct way for those in the U.S. to pronounce it. 

‘I can unreservedly say that Americans are free to pronounce “emu” with or without a palatal consonant: /imju/ or /imu/,’ he told ABC News.

‘I’m only saying Americans are free to pronounce emu as ee-mooh, not that Australians should follow suit.’

After almost a week of arguments Mr Rushfield, who had renamed himself on Twitter to the ‘Nemesis of Australia’, finally believed it was time to admit his mistake.

Mr Rushfield explained he had grown up pronouncing the word ee-moo and had never heard anything different from his fellow Americans.

Mr Rushfield said he had grown up hearing emu pronounced as ee-mooh by his fellow Americans – including the owner of the bird in his story. Pictured is the previously missing emu

He said the owner of the emu in his story, Cassandra Redding, had also pronounced it the same way and he didn’t think anything of it.

‘We were wrong,’ he told ABC Breakfast on Tuesday.

Mr Rushfield said National Public Radio had strict policies on how to pronounce different words but emu had previously been up for debate.

‘I’m guessing, based on the reaction we have had and the fact I don’t want to cause an international rift, I think henceforth, from now on, it shall be ee-mew,’ he said. 

Since the interview, Mr Rushfield has changed his Twitter name to ‘Now Just Australia’s Public Enemy #6!’

Perhaps the final word on the pronunciation should go much further afield, as the word emu was thought to be from either Arabic or Portuguese terms for large birds.


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