Many of us are accustomed to working on banishing the ums from our speech, but let’s not confuse that with the uhs. Pauses are essential and not to be confused with our great need of the article a – that’s “uh” – not “A” as in bake. We throw “uh” ball. When we throw “A” ball the phrase becomes stilted and stiff.
The same hypercorrection happens with “the.” The appropriate times to say “thee” are when it is spelled with two e’s, when it precedes a vowel, or when you very clearly mean that specific object. We do say the (thee) earth. But we say the (thuh) ball.
Hypercorrection tends to happen when we are attempting to sound more formal or professional, when in reality it muddies our message. Hypercorrection can throw off our natural speaking rhythm. We often start to feel odd while speaking and we are not even sure why. When speaking casually with colleagues or friends we hit or highlight our operatives naturally. We emphasize the word or phrase that clarifies the meaning of what we are saying. When we hypercorrect, we emphasize words we think need emphasis. Another common misstep in this category is the “and,” which gets emphasized at the expense of hearing what you are actually joining. Salt “and” pepper is really salt “n” pepper. Romeo “n” Juliet. It is actually linguistically correct to say “n” when joining a pair or series of objects or descriptors. When we emphasize the “and,” that is generally what we hear. “The client likes colors AND stripes” is heard quite differently from “the client likes colors n stripes.” The meaning of the phrase actually changes by emphasizing the “and.”
Know what you want to convey and trust your natural speaking rhythms.