A Lesson with Miss Pronunciation

"Listen up, class." - Miss Pronunciation

It’s time for AMAZE-ing Words Wednesday! Today’s word lesson will be taught by renowned language arts instructor, Miss Pronunciation. Miss Pronunciation will present the incorrect and correct ways of articulating some commonly mispronounced words in the English language. Without further ado, I hand our virtual classroom over to Miss Pronunciation.

Arthur is a lovable aardvark featured in children’s books by Marc Brown and the PBS series of the same name and/or Dudley’s Moore drunken character from the movie Arthur(1981) which co-starred Liza Minnelli and gave John Gielgud a Supporting Actor Oscar. An author writes books. Please do not confuse the two.

An axe is a tool wielded for cutting down trees or butchering family members (e.g., Lizzie Borden). To ask is to inquire, query, request information.

An ath-a-lete does not exist. Unfortunately, the additional syllable is often added by those simply unaware of the proper two-syllable version, athlete, or by such athletes who have been knocked in the head too many times.

I believe that Excetera, or Ekcetera, is Superhero Elektra’s younger sister whose ninja skills didn’t quite make the cut to get her own comic line. Et cetera, pronounced [et set-er-uh], is the Latin phrase meaning “and so on” and is used to indicate more items in a list without naming them specifically.

Pic from Kevin at deviantart.com

An ideal is a standard of perfection or excellence, while an idea is a notion or thought which pops into your mind like that lightbulb above the cartoon character’s head. What would be ideal is for people to pronounce idea without the added “l” since it is rather unnecessary and somewhat confusing.

Libary is the command given to your dog Barry when you wish him to play dead for the amusement of your neighbors. A library (note the “r”) is a public institution which collects and loans out books to residents who go the trouble of procuring a library card.

New York Public Library

Mischievous is a word almost no one knows how to say. However, it does not have an ē sound anywhere in the word (no mischievEEous). Those who mispronounce it demonstrate a mischievousness all their own. Personally, Miss Pronunciation believes that the problem could easily be avoided by changing the spelling of this word altogether to mischuhvus.

A pitcher is what one uses to pour liquids into cups and glasses, as in “Bring me and my buddies another pitcher of beer!” If, however, you have too many pitchers, you and your friends will not be a pretty picture for long. Not only will your speech slur such that you can no longer get a “k” sound in before the “ch,” but nearby tables will ask you to leave or call the cab for you. (Drink responsibly. Or not at all.)

Johannes Vermeer's Milkmaid - A piCture with a piTcher

The Pacific is an ocean or the region of islands in that ocean. Specific is something identifiable and particular. You may wish to be more specific in using this word by making sure that you include the requisite “s.”

If the good-looking guy across the hall asks whether you get ESPN because he wants to watch the game at your place, do not answer “Supposably I do.” That will be the last “I do” you say to him if he possesses pronunciation skills. In fact, he will supposedly find another young lady in the apartment building whose couch is comfortable and whose speech is clear. “Oh well,” you say, “I didn’t want a sports-obsessed couch potato anyway!” Perhaps, but you might want to shift that “b” to a “d” just in case the guy you adore wants to know if the Caribbean cruise passes through Acapulco, to which you would say, “Supposedly” as you pack your carry-on to join him.

Miss Pronunciation thanks you for your attention and hopes that this lesson has been enlightening and entertaining.

What other words have you heard mispronounced? Do you struggle with certain word pronunciations yourself? (Undoubtably Undoubtedly, it can be hard to break a habit!)

22 thoughts on “A Lesson with Miss Pronunciation

  1. Classic. Thank you, Miss Pronunciation. These all drive me crazy, too. I have a few others to discuss sometime–warsh v. wash, melk v. milk, pellow v. pillow. It's enough to drive a person crazy.

  2. I love these examples of poor pronunciation… and must admit, I'm guilty of adding the E sound to mischievous. :-)The other word I often hear mispronounced is "frustrated" where the "r" is dropped so it's pronounced, "fustrated". Drives me nuts. I suppose we all have certain words we pronounce incorrectly and I can only imagine how those who use the Queen's English must shudder when they hear us speak. lolFun post. Loved it.

  3. Oh, Julie, I LOVE this post! Miss Pronunciation is a perfect title and the words are superbly chosen. It's funny how people mispronounce words and I have a pet peeve about that as it is. And I hate it when educated people say things like, "He said some bad things to John and I". AACK! I always am saying, "Take out the first person's name and listen to what you just said."

  4. Sophomore = SothamorePomeranian = PomeraniumKindergarten = KinnygardenGarter snake = Gartner SnakeDachshund = Dash houndNuclear = NucularRealtor = RelatorI have a no solicitors sign on my front door. You wouldn't believe how many people have tried to explain to me that since they are not inviting me to church (or proselytizing me), they are not soliciting. They genuinely do not know what the word means. I also get amused at people using the word "irregardless." Fun post.

  5. Y'all have some great ones. I hate the warsh/wash thing too, Erin. Melanie, you are so right about that silent "t" in often! And Catie, I could never understand not getting "nuclear" correct. I'm Texan through and through, and it isn't that hard.Actually, I think we're all guilty of getting a pronunciation wrong at times. If someone gently points it out, we can adjust. No big deal. Despite Miss Pronunciation, there are no grades here. :)Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

  6. Is this going to be a regular feature, Miss Pronunciation? You always have a unique twist on useful information for us writers (and readers). I also liked the graphic for Miss P. Athlete – 3 syllables – ugh! 🙂

  7. I've got one for you, Miss Pronunciation…how about ValentiMes Day. Drives me crazy! Or Jury for Jewelry? Speaking of which, one time driving through south Memphis I saw a sign for a Jury sale–it was Valentine's day–he meant Jewelry.Thanks for the fun post!

  8. My husband said a really funny one yesterday, and now I can't remember what it was! But, he regularly says "ambliance" for ambulance – yet it drives him nuts when someone wants to "axe" a question! His mom used to go to the car "worsh" and mine does too. I figured that was a Great Lakes states thing.

  9. I laughed so hard reading this. These are great examples! Debora's right – frustrated is a good one, too. I also hate when people say "warsh" clothes. My mom does that, and I always want to yell, "there's no R!"Irregardless is another good one as Catie mention. Also, a lot of people say "doxen" instead of pronouncing Dachshund correctly.

  10. There are so many good ones! I may have to do this again and steal all of your ideas! Actually, I would give y'all credit for your brilliance.(Stacy – I don't know dog breeds. I must look up how to pronounce dachshund now. I may have been saying it wrong!)

  11. Love this post! My mother "warshed" clothes. We used to tease her, asking her where the R was in wash. She finally told us "show me the R in colonel, and I'll show you the R in warsh." Smart lady, that. She's an English teacher. I'm pretty sure that's a regional thing. Anyway, here are mine, some have touched on themJewlery for JewelryAsprin for AspirinBuh-in for Button (include mih-en in there too)Fiel Gold for Field Goal

  12. Oh, there are so many troublesome words in the English language. Unfortunately, my brain is mush after yesterday's travel back home and my first day back at the day job in a week. Thanks for giving me the sillies, though.

  13. Reblogged this on A Garden of Delights and commented:
    In lieu of the Flash Fiction I have sitting in my 750words and haven’t edited, I’m reblogging this amusing and useful piece by Julie Glover. Having fun on her page… and her Miss Spelling pst this Wednesday. Please, enjoy and stop in to Julie’s page for some sun and words.

  14. Re: “Often”: Are you saying it should be pronounced withOUT the t? When it is an extension of ‘Oft’? People in England say off-tn. Just as we would say ‘oft’. “Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft”. Its ‘oft’. Not ‘off’. It isn’t a ‘silent T’, it never has been. Off-en isn’t the word. It’s ‘oft-en’. Why would it be a silent t? I don’t get it. When we say ‘offen’ as kids we are teased by older people “Offen? What’s Offen? Off-n-on? (Off and on). As potentially discourteous as it may sound, the way Americans pronounce a great many words can sound really cringe-worthy to England based English speakers too, just as you have an irk about the way we are pronouncing ‘oft’ and it’s extension ‘often’. As to other words in general, multi-national use right now, things that irk ME are: “Liberry”. “Sanwich or samwich”. “Pecific”. “Aks”. “Somethink”. “Supposively”. “Demond”. There’s also bureaucratic speech such as “continuing to do that dangerous thing would not be advisory.” Huh? Do you mean ‘advisABLE?’ Because an advisor advises (gives advice) in an advisory capacity. Listening to them is advisable. Ignoring them is inadvisable.” ‘continuing to do that would not be advisory’ is like saying ‘it would not be giving advice’. The worst is “That story has been defunct” when they mean it has been “debunked”.

    1. In America, it’s “oft” with the t and “often” without the t. Does it make sense? I don’t know. It’s just the way it is. 🙂 (You can verify here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/often?s=t.) I agree with all of your other mistaken pronunciations. It’s sandwich, not sammich; specific, not pecific; library, not liberry; etc. Poor English is poor English on both sides of the Atlantic, but our pronunciations do vary at times. Thanks, Elle!

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