Thursday, March 11, 2010

Words pronounced incorrectly by me

(See Nigel edition here.)

Do you ever find yourself reading aloud or speaking in public when, to your horror, you come across a word you don't know how to pronounce? Especially one that you've read in your mind as a written word all the time, but you've never heard it spoken out loud?

I'm not even talking about uncommon, difficult oddball words like "halcyon" or "hubris" (both of which appear on my personal unpronounceable list). I'm talking about everyday words like "apricot," "oregano," or even the abbreviation "lbs." For the longest time (and sometimes I still stumble) I pronounced "apricot" like APP-ricot and "lbs" as - get this - loobs. I knew it meant pounds but I didn't know you pronounced it like that. What, the l, the b, AND the s are silent? I was doing fine with "oregano" until Marge Simpson pronounced it o-re-GAH-no. Now I'm always afraid that pronunciation will escape my lips before the proper one.

Sometimes there are words I think should be pronounced a different way, like "aspartame." I was so sad to find out it's AS-par-tame instead of as-PAR-ta-mee. Or CougarEat, at the BYU: doesn't coo-GAR-ee-ut just sound better?

Then there are the words whose proper pronunciations I know, but I don't know if everyone else does, and I don't want to be weirdly pretentious, so should I pronounce them out loud correctly or not? Like "victuals" (vittles) or "often" (the t is silent). I still haven't figured these ones out.

Proper names are even beyond me every once in a while. I was the laughingstock of my group of friends in high school for a while when I made the mistake of pronouncing the second syllable of "Tupac" like "pock" instead of "pack." I may have also pronounced B.I.G. (as in The Notorious) as the word it spells instead of discrete letters, but that also might have been something my friends made up to make fun of me. I can't remember.

I do remember that once while I was teaching an LSAT prep class the name of the philosopher Sartre came up and the only clue I had to its pronunciation was how Jay Sherman said it on that one Simpsons episode - Shartre? Or something? I really embarrassed myself in front of a bunch of philosophy majors on that one.

"Prague" comes out as "prayg" if I'm not careful. "Doctrinal" sometimes embarrasses me as "doc-TRINE-al."

What words do you habitually mispronounce?

25 comments:

Amanda said...

I think pronouncing it APPricot is perfectly acceptable, not that I say it like that, but I probably wouldn't bat an eye if you said it like that. It's like the 4-year PEE-can vs pe-CAWN debate I had with my Canadian friend during high school. My dictionary thinks either apricot is correct. But, this is the dictionary that thinks that you can pronounce it Wenz-dee instead of Wenz-day. Words that I pronounce incorrectly: archipelago (in my defense, the first time I heard this word, a teacher pronounced it ark-i-pel-AH-go, instead of the accepted ark-i-PEL-ah-go) and dachshund. I know there are more, but I can't think of them. I want to pronounce hubris like the French would say it- hyoo-bree, but that's not right. Same goes for bris; it hurts my ears to say it right. I probably can only say halcyon because that was a street in California. And, I hate that you can't pronounce crépès correctly without sounding pretentious.

Susanne said...

I enjoyed this post so much! I love these kinds. :)

Hmmmm, well compared to Americans (or most anyone)outside of my region, I "mispronounce" a number of words (pen, ten, men, Laura). Here we just call it our southern accent which, by the way, my Syrian friend adores. (He's trying to learn it from me, but, eh, a southern-sounding Syrian is just wrong, in my opinion!)

I totally understand what you mean about words you have read in your mind a certain way and then having to read out loud thinking, "Do I ever know how to pronounce this properly?"

How do you say "caramel"? Here a lot of folks shorten it to "carmel." And "lawyer" often has the "law" in it...not "loyer."

Fun post!

Crys said...

So it isn't that I don't know how these words are pronounced...I do. I just always say them wrong when I have to say them....Wyoming, wolf, and for. the first two you have to ask your self, how often do they come up...the answer often enough that Jason is constantly teasing me about it :) I cringe every time. I know better, I just can't help it :)

Amber said...

There are two that come to mind, although I'm sure there are many more - I feel like Jason teases frequently for mispronouncing words. One is "forward" - I say it foward, without the "r". I like to think that this is an alternate pronunciation, but perhaps I really do just say it incorrectly.

The other one is cacophony. This is a word that I only saw in print for a really long time, and so I had my own way of saying it, which is something like ka-koh-FOH-nee. Like Crys' words, you would think this wouldn't come up very often, but you'd be surprised. Even though I now know that it is pronounced ka-KAW-foh-nee, I rarely say it that way, and thus, am frequently teased by my husband. (Please excuse the pronunciation respellings - I had to look it up, and I'm still not sure I did it right!)

Liz Johnson said...

CARAMEL IS NOT THE SAME AS CARMEL! So help me. This has been an ongoing debate in my marriage for 7.5 years.

I like to think that I pronounce everything correctly... but that's just because I'm too naive (or proud) to know otherwise.

Merkley Jiating said...

Awry. I didn't figure that one out until my final year of college.

I missed you at play group today! I actually went, it was crazy!

Katie said...

Haha. I am definitely guilty of this. But I think what I worry about more when I read aloud is this weird breathing/gasp sound thing that I do. I of course was unaware of such a sound happening every time I pause until one of my friends pointed it out to me in high school. While we were practicing our lines for a play. Thanks a lot.

But--more on the subject--I will tell you about something embarrassing my friend did instead. We were reading scriptures aloud during some Young Womens class at church one time when somebody else was reading and came across the word "chaos." After they read it aloud, my friend piped up, "Oh! I always thought that was pronounced 'chow-s.'" She was funny and honest about herself in a lovable way, much like yourself.

And I too thought it was Tu-POCK. Are you sure that isn't the right way to say it? Not that I would know. I don't even really know who that is.

Bridget said...

Wait, IS it Tu-pock? Maybe I've overcorrected myself.

Awry is another one. I still say it "AW-ry" in my mind but it's "aw-RY," isn't it? I think the first time I heard it pronounced that way I thought it was a different word.

Jessie said...

Is it CASH-ew, or ca-SHEW? I always said ca-SHEW until it caused an entire group of people to laugh hysterically at me. I had just moved from Virginia to Nevada, so maybe this one is a regional thing? Or maybe I just say it wrong. I've never known.

Kathy Haynie said...

"Victuals" is pronounced "vittles"? I didn't know that. I run across words like this every so often, but they're not coming to mind right now. Usually it's words I would never dream of saying out loud, but I read them, and I think I know how to pronounce them in my mind. Then I hear someone smart use the word in a sentence, and I'm like "Whoa, so that's how you say it." Sometimes I fess up and sometimes I just nod knowingly, like, oh, yes, of course, that's how I say it all the time, too. Not. Ha ha! Good post.

Bryan Lewis said...

I always want to pronounce "bury" like "blurry" without the L. I have to pause and remind myself it's pronounced like "berry"

Susanne said...

How do y'all say "naked"? Naykid or nekkid?

I didn't know "bury" was really said "berry"! You mean I was saying it right? :)

I hate "library" said like "liberry."

One I heard my dad say today "salmon" -- do you say the "L" or not?

Also, I love caSHEW ... I'd reply "Bless you" because it sounds like a sneeze! :)

I think February is mispronounced a lot. Now I'm going through my day thinking of all the words I or others say wrong. Thanks a lot, Bridget! :-P

Bridget said...

Amanda, people totally laughed at me (the one time) when I said APPricot. I am still injured.

Jessie, ca-SHEW definitely sounds like someone sneezing but I've heard other people pronounce it that way. Mostly foreigners.

Susanne, you always bring us such an interesting perspective from the south. Speaking of salmon, some people say the L in our last name and some don't. I say it. But in Arizona there were plenty of people who just said "Pommer."

Lisa Lou said...

The other day, the word "across-t" came out of my mouth. As in, "it's right across-t the street." Whoops! I thought I had trained myself not to say that anymore!
Also, I find myself saying "pam-plet" instead of pamPHlet. I actually didn't realized it was a "F" sound until I was a junior in college. Also, jewelry. I say that word with 3 syllables. Jew-le-ry. And get made fun of.

Eevi said...

I'm sure there are way too many words that I mispronounce. My friends couldn't stop laughing when I would try to pronounce different drug names during nursing school.

cori said...

Yes yes, Bridget... it is Tu-"Pock"!!! If you say Tu-"Pack," people are going to make fun of you for sure, me included :)

Kathy Haynie said...

Banal. For years I had only known it in print, and inside my head I pronounced it "BAY-nel." Alas, it is "buh-NAL." Sigh.

sslang said...

Well, I'm actually notorious for mispronunciation. In my defense, the notoriety stems from a single word.

RATHER (rahther) i would fit in perfectly in london (and my theory is that since i lived in london at the age of two that's where i picked it up.) in oregon, texas, hawaii, north carolina, south carolina, georgia, new york, cali, arizona, nm, colorado, louisiana, jersey, philly (ahem, i mean penn), ...i'm tired of this, pretty much the entire US...et cetera et cetera et cetera...not so much.

so i figure that one word alone, and the s*** i've caught for it can comprise my addition to this page.

try saying rather like that in a big group, i dare you. :)

ok, admittedly there are others but i'll save that for another day b/c this is way too long as it is.

bridget walker!!!!! holy crap!

Bridget said...

Cori, I really could have used that information about 12 years ago when I was being laughed at.

"Banal" is ba-NAL????? I thought it was BAY-nal. The next time I have to pronounce that out loud I will be thanking you, Kathy.

Jill said...

I fought my class to the death on the pronuncication of the word "colonel." I was wrong

JackJen said...

I once heard an NPR program on the "speaking test" the BBC gives to potential broadcasters before they can be hired. I'm now going to commence upon a google search to find it for you. I think you'll like it!

Steven said...

Remember when The Bourne Ultimatum came out, and you thought that it should have been pronounced ul-TIM-a-tum to match the previous titles?

I also pronounce jewelry like jew-LER-y. And o-re-GAH-no seems okay to me. Marge Simpson also messed me up on foliage (FO-lee-age vs FOIL-age).

Bridget said...

Jill, that is hilarious.

Jen, please to be finding that article (when you're done having your baby).

Steven, there is no past tense about that sentiment. I still think it should be Ull-TIM-a-tum and I wish I had included that in this post.

Kristen said...

Ooh, this is just delicious! I'm with you on BAY-nal. Huh? My embarrassing moment was when ordering a focaccia sandwich at a deli with a friend. Yeah, I said FO-kuh-CHI-uh. I'd never heard it aloud before! Also just recently, a girl asked to see a designer bebe purse from behind the counter and to confirm her selection I said, "the BayBay?" And she goes, "Um, the BeeBee." I should have been like, "Oh right, I thought you meant this other one that's pronounced the way I said it." Sheesh. There are probably many more words I currently mispronounce, or would, if I was ever faced with saying them. Plenty of words I've had the "aha" moment of realizing I thought they were pronounced differently, such as oregano and aspartame, as on your list. Also I should add that my husband loves to purposely mispronounce words phonetically, for fun. I can't think of any really good ones off the top of my head, just Worcestershire (werCHESTershyre, of course).

Melody said...

Ok, so I know that I'm commenting on something from a long time ago. It's just that it was drawn to my attention from your most recent post.

I went to the Merriam Webster site to listen to the pronunciations of some of these words (they have audio, so you can hear the pronunciation). You might be interested to know that some of the words have two audio recordings because they have two ways to correctly pronounce them. For example, Apricot had both "APP-ricot" and "APE-ricot." February had "Feb-you-ary" and "Feb-rue-ary." I think that Aspartame had two pronunciations as well, but neither of them were "AS-par-te-mee."

I think I was pronouncing most of the ones mentioned correctly except for victuals and banal (I guess I associated that one with anal). The one I got made fun of for was enchilada. I said it more like "ON-chilada."

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