Welcome to Amaze-ing Words Wednesday! I was expecting to experience the lazy days of summer with my toes in a kiddie pool and the sun on my face, but my vacation was interrupted by Miss Pronunciation. Having noticed some poor pronunciations in the English language, she has called a special summer session to address them.
Okay, okay, Miss Pronunciation. Welcome back and all. Whassup?
Miss Pronunciation: First of all, Ms. Glover, please remove the gum from your mouth. Second, the proper pronunciation is “What’s up.”
Now, class, I am happy to be back at Threading the Labyrinth so that we can clear up some confusion in the English language with regard to the following words and their pronunciations. Since you are looking forward to summer vacation, I will keep this lesson short and not give the quiz I had prepared on words we covered last time (see A Lesson with Miss Pronunciation).
CANDIDATE. In an election year, this word will likely be mispronounced 5,431 times. Let’s not make it 5,432. It is not cannidate. Think candid, even though we all know candid is the last thing the candidates will be as they promise, plead, and plow their way into office. Regardless, may the best candidate win.
CRAYON. Many children pronounce this word as if they are speaking of royal headwear. You do not, however, pick up a crown of burnt sienna or cornflower blue. Crayon is two syllables and rhymes with rayon or stay on.
ESPRESSO. While you might wish that the barista provide your drink in an express manner, if you wish to imbibe that syrupy coffee, please dispose of the x. It is not an expresso, but rather an espresso. In Italian, that probably means “this caffeine is killing me.”
ET CETERA. I am once again covering this oft-mispronounced word. Ms. Glover has requested that this word make repeat appearances until she consistently hears et cetera instead of ek cetera. However, Yul Brenner will demonstrate this time.
If Julie’s husband wishes to add the “Very well, your majesty,” she says that would be welcomed as well.
JEWELRY. At times, I wonder if people have fallen victim to a word scramble. Rearranging the letters, one might discern that this word is pronounced jewl-er-y. Yet a close look at the actual word shows us that the e comes before not after the l in the word. Be sure, therefore, to say jew-el-ry.
ORNERY. Onri is the pronunciation of the French male name Henri. Orn-e-ry is how I feel when people continue to mispronounce words time after time despite adequate correction. It has three syllables, beginning with the syllable orn. Admittedly, it is an unusual word in that no other words rhyme with it, but I feel confident that my class can master it.
REALTOR. This is another word which we have a tendency to draw out into more syllables than needed. House hunters need not consult a real-a-tor, as there is no such thing. However, a two-syllable realtor might wish to show you around until you settle on the perfect place to store all of your stuff and adopt a lifestyle of maintenance and repair.
SALMON. Some consonants are silent, such as the l in salmon. Just as one would not say castle with a t-sound or muscle with a k-sound, the word salmon is actually pronounced sammon. Forget that l. It squeezed in somehow, and we can’t get rid of it. Perhaps it stands for lemon, a lovely garnish for grilled salmon.
TRIATHLON. In preparation for the Summer Olympics, we must rectify this mispronunciation once for all. This word is three syllables only. It is not a tri-ath-a-lon, but a tri-ath-lon. The same can be said for bi-ath-lon and de-cath-lon. It’s a bit of a tongue twister, but athlon is a Greek root that means “prize” or “contest” and it has no additional a. So there we are.
Julie: My sincere thanks to Miss Pronunciation for a second appearance on my blog. I was doing well with pronunciations until I reached “triathlon.” Guilty as charged! I will remedy that mispronunciation before the arrival of the London 2012 Olympics.
I would like to add my own mispronounced word to the list. It’s a Spanish word actually which refers to a smoked jalapeño pepper, but it is often used here in Texas in restaurants: CHIPOTLE. It is not chi-pol-te. The t comes before the l. Thus it is chi-pot-le. Order accordingly.
Now it’s your turn! Which words from the above list have you struggled with? What other English words do you often hear mispronounced?