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Friday, April 15, 2016

When you are mizzled by English spelling

We all know that English spelling and pronunciation do not match up very well.

A facebook group I belong to recently had a very entertaining discussion of words that its members had mispronounced for a very long time because they had only ever seen them written.
The culprits:

WORD
MISTAKEN PRONUNCIATION
CORRECT PRONUNCIATION
Placebo
PLACE-bo
Pluh SEE bo
Pinochle
Pin OACH'll
PEE nuckle
Epitome
EPPY tome
ip PITTA mee
Awry
AWEree
Uh RYE
Rely
RELLee
Ruh LIE
Asylum
ASSY lum
Uh SYE lum
Misled
MIZZ'ld, MIZE'ld
Miss LED
Underfed
Un DERFD
Under FED
Ascites
ASS kitties
Uh SITE eez
Whodunit
WODD you nit
Hoo DUNNit
Subunit
Soo BUNNit
SUB you nit
Fatigue
FATTY goo
Fuh TEEG
Anathema
ANNA THEEmuh
Uh NATH uh muh
Voila
VOYL uh
Vwah LA
Infrared
In FRAIRD
IN fruh RED
Flamingo
FLAY ming go
Fluh MING go
Sundried (tomatoes)
SUN dreed
SUN dried
Nauseating
NAW seeting
NAW zee ate ing
Paradigm
Para DIDGE um
PARA dime
Omnipotent
Omnee POTE 'nt
Om NIP uh t'nt
Redolent
Ree DOLE 'nt
REDDA l'nt
Picturesque
PICK chur skew
Pick chur ESK
Cesarean
Seez ur EEN
Suhz AIR ee 'n
Pseudo
Puh SWAYED oh
SOO do
Hyperbole
HIPE ur bole
Hi PURR buh lee
Colonel
Koe l'n ell
KER n'll
Bedraggled
BED ragg 'lld
Buh DRAG 'lld
Hitherto
HITHER toe
HITHER too
Indict
In DICKT
In DITE
Chaos
CHAY oze
KAY oss
Fajitas
Fuh JYE tiss, FADGY tass
Fu HEE tuhzz
Aspartame
A SPARTA mee
ASS purr tame
Inchoate
INCH oh ate
In KO uht, INKO uht

What words have you had this experience with?

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6 comments:

  1. As I child, I thought I was quite advanced, having worked out the pronunciation of acetaminophen. It wasn't until I was older that I realized ace-ta-mih-NO-fen was incorrect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Miniseries", when written unhyphenated, never fails to get me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a novice horticulturist, I asked a local nurseryman for a cotton-easter only to have him burst into uncontrollable laughter. The plant cotoneaster is actually pronounced kah-toe-nee-ass-ter

    ReplyDelete
  4. To this day I still struggle with "legacy" and have to think twice before I say it (I always thought it was "leh juss ee," rather than "leg uh see.")

    Not as good as ass kitties tbh, but still...!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's especially aggravating, when an actor in a TV program or movie, makes an egregious mispronunciation of a word they were too pig-headed, or embarrassed, to ask for the correct way to say it. Some of the words on your list have been mangled by actors, big and small, of both sexes, and sadly, this influences an already ignorant and lazy audience, into believing they've heard the "correct" way to use the word.

    ReplyDelete

About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.