Jim A.

Mispronunciations

35 posts in this topic

I really should be talking here about more earth-shaking issues; there are so many of them, especially now. However, I felt that somewhere on this forum might be a place for me to vent about something that has always been gnawing at me: when people continually mispronounce certain words, even though they've seen their spellings many times.

I guess the reason chronic mispronunciation bothers me so much is because it seems to me--whether I'm right or not--that the person speaking doesn't really care about language, or at least not in the precision of usage of language. Am I being overly sensitive? And do I ever dare to do something I'm afraid of doing "to" someone--that is, "correcting" him or her on their pronunciation?

Anyway, from the category of mispronounced words, here are my top five "enemies" (drum-roll, please):

5--"aksed", instead of "asked"

4--"drownded", instead of "drowned"

3--"supposably", instead of "supposedly"

2--"excaped", instead of "escaped"

And the real winner:

1--"nucular", instead of "nuclear"

Anyone have any other examples that tick them off?

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All mispronunciations irk me, as do all spelling errors in email and other internet communications.* The only time a mispronunciation doesn't bother me is if the speaker notes that he is unsure of the correct pronunciation. Otherwise I assume the speaker just never bothered to learn what's correct, and that's the irksome part. It suggests intellectual laziness.

_____

*I'm "cursed" with perfect spelling. The only mistakes I ever make are typos I don't catch, except for complicated words I've never encountered before. Those I look up.

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Am I being overly sensitive?

Nope. :) You're right--it's important for the reasons you state.

A personal "favorite" of mine:

"chipolte" instead of "chipotle".

All of your examples, and mine, are in the category of being clearly wrong by trivial examination of the spelling.

I am much more forgiving when the proper pronunciation rests on information not conveyed in the spelling. That simply suggests that the person has learned the word in writing but hasn't heard it spoken (or hasn't made the connection to the spoken word), particularly for young people. For example, "rendezvous" or "Worcester".

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Anyway, from the category of mispronounced words, here are my top five "enemies" (drum-roll, please):

5--"aksed", instead of "asked"

4--"drownded", instead of "drowned"

3--"supposably", instead of "supposedly"

2--"excaped", instead of "escaped"

And the real winner:

1--"nucular", instead of "nuclear"

It looks like what happens when children are not taught phonics and how to sound out words.

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"Heigth" instead of "height."

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"Heigth" instead of "height."

Oh yes, this is definitely by far my #1 annoying mispronunciation. A circle of my friends in 6th grade even talked about this one, it was so prevalent.

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I forgot to mention another "favorite" of mine: when people, even some who've read a few of Ayn Rand's novels, pronounce her first name "Ann". It's apparent to me they just ignore the "y" in her first name and therefore don't pronounce it as a diphthong.

And this brings to me to another subject which still saddens me: all those editions of The Fountainhead, The Virtue of Selfishness and possibly other Ayn Rand works which were reprinted in 1992 (I believe that's the year) and contain a number of not only misspellings, but words that are not in the original texts.

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I am much more forgiving when the proper pronunciation rests on information not conveyed in the spelling. That simply suggests that the person has learned the word in writing but hasn't heard it spoken (or hasn't made the connection to the spoken word), particularly for young people. For example, "rendezvous" or "Worcester".
You mean like Richard Pryor doing a great fatuous, sophisticated British accent, asking the waiter for "some of that 'Wore Chester Shire' sauce"?

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Antartica for Antarctica.

Liberry for library.

Febuary for February.

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One of my irritations is the pronunciation of the 't' in 'often.'

From Random House:

'Often' was pronounced with a t-sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the "t" came to predominate in the speech of the educated, in both North America and Great Britain, and the earlier pronunciation fell into disfavor. Common use of a spelling pronunciation has since restored the [t] for many speakers, and today  /ˈɔfən/[aw-fuhn] and  /ˈɔftən/[awf-tuhn] or /ˈɒfən/[of-uhn] and [of-tuhn] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, 'often' with a /t/[t] is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.

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One of my irritations is the pronunciation of the 't' in 'often.'

From Random House:

'Often' was pronounced with a t-sound until the 17th century, when a pronunciation without the "t" came to predominate in the speech of the educated, in both North America and Great Britain, and the earlier pronunciation fell into disfavor. Common use of a spelling pronunciation has since restored the [t] for many speakers, and today  /ˈɔfən/[aw-fuhn] and  /ˈɔftən/[awf-tuhn] or /ˈɒfən/[of-uhn] and [of-tuhn] exist side by side. Although it is still sometimes criticized, 'often' with a /t/[t] is now so widely heard from educated speakers that it has become fully standard once again.

The Other Jake: Language is and always has been fluid. Most of what was correct in the 17th century has changed. That's language. No need to get irritated.

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The Other Jake: Language is and always has been fluid. Most of what was correct in the 17th century has changed. That's language. No need to get irritated.

I was not irritated. I posted the entry to make the very same point: that language is fluid (i.e. it's not wrong to pronounce the "t" in often.)

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The Other Jake: Language is and always has been fluid. Most of what was correct in the 17th century has changed. That's language. No need to get irritated.

I was not irritated. I posted the entry to make the very same point: that language is fluid (i.e. it's not wrong to pronounce the "t" in often.)

I don't care I still don't like it. One of my other pet peeves is toxic used as a noun usually by addding an 's', i.e. toxics as in that dump is full of toxics instead of toxins. You may argue similarly that Merriam-Webster lists toxic (secondly) as a noun but it still sounds awful used as a noun just as the 't' sounds awful in often when pronounced. There, I've got that off my chest.

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I don't care I still don't like it. One of my other pet peeves is toxic used as a noun usually by addding an 's', i.e. toxics as in that dump is full of toxics instead of toxins. You may argue similarly that Merriam-Webster lists toxic (secondly) as a noun but it still sounds awful used as a noun just as the 't' sounds awful in often when pronounced. There, I've got that off my chest.

I haven't heard that one, but I agree - it's nogood.

One I hear frequently when out to sea is "potable" pronounced as pottable. A number of well-educated commanders pronounce it that way. It definitely ranks in my top 5 pronunciation pet peeves.

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I don't care I still don't like it.

Other people may like it, though, and consider the "mispronounced" version a legitimate alternative. It is a fact of reality that languages continually evolve, and words get new meanings or new pronunciations.

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My pronunciation pet peeve would be using the regular "the" even when the following word starts with a vowel sound. "Thuh egg" or "thuh orange". I was taught that you should use "thee" in such cases.

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My pronunciation pet peeve would be using the regular "the" even when the following word starts with a vowel sound. "Thuh egg" or "thuh orange". I was taught that you should use "thee" in such cases.

What about words that start with the ē sound? Do you say "the evening" or "thē evening?"

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My pronunciation pet peeve would be using the regular "the" even when the following word starts with a vowel sound. "Thuh egg" or "thuh orange". I was taught that you should use "thee" in such cases.

I don't remember being taught that, but now that I think about it that's how I pronounce it: "thee egg" or "thee orange." I tried to force "thuh" for them and it sounded and felt unnatural.

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What about words that start with the ē sound? Do you say "the evening" or "thē evening?"

The former. This is the exception.

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The former. This is the exception.

That's what I was thinking. The Japanese would have no problem with consecutive ē sounds, because they're used to distinguishing single and double vowels (ie = house, iie = no / o = small, oo = big) or putting glottal stops between vowels, but English speakers are not used to that and need the "uh" to hear the ē as a separate sound.

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The only time I consciously use 'thē' is when emphasizing something. I never heard of using it before vowels. I have no problem saying "give me 'thuh' egg or 'thuh' onion. Does not sound strange to me at all.

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