Posted by: episystechpubs | July 3, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Incorrect Pronunciations

In yesterday’s Editor’s Corner I thanked two people for sending the list of heteronyms: Ron Harman and Mark. Ron Harman, the Education Manager of Enterprise Payment Solutions (EPS), was the sender. Mark Harmon, actor, was part of my daydream. 🙂 My apologies to those I confused.

Incorrect Pronunciations
I remember when I was a kid, my dad sometimes asked me to read newspaper articles to him. One day, I was sitting on the stairs in our living room with the front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in my hands. I was reading an article about some crime that had been committed, and I cruised right along through the word indicted—only I pronounced it “in-dik-ted.” He knew exactly what I meant and said, “Actually that word is pronounced ‘in-dite-ed,’ with a hard ‘e’ and silent ‘c.’” I was ticked off! How could there be a silent “c”? The Electric Company and Sesame Street never covered that!

The following list of incorrect pronunciations is part of a list from Daily Writing Tips. I must say that there are several of them that I am guilty of, especially when talking too quickly. You can take these or leave them—I like listening to different accents and regional pronunciations. I also think I might go medieval (MED-EE-EEVAL) on the writer if she told me to say miniature (MIN-I-A-TURE) with four syllables. 🙂

50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid
by Maeve Maddox
Fred Astaire drew laughs back in the Thirties with his song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in which the lovers can’t agree on the pronunciation of words like either, neither, and tomato.

On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternate pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternate pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

The list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a good start. [KC – Click here
for the complete article.]

  1. anyway – The problem with this word is not so much pronunciation as the addition of an unnecessary sound. Don’t add an S to make it “anyways.” The word is ANYWAY.
  2. arctic – Note the C after the R. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.
  3. accessory – The first C has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.
  4. asterisk – Notice the second S. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.
  5. candidate – Notice the first D. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.
  6. clothes – Notice the TH spelling and sound. Say /KLOTHZ/, not /kloz/. [KC – Saying KLOTHZ makes me feel like I’m going to bite my tongue off.]
  7. daïs – A daïs is a raised platform. The pronunciation fault is to reverse the vowel sounds. The word is often misspelled as well as mispronounced. Say /DAY-IS/ not /dī-is/.
  8. February – Just about everyone I know drops the first R in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.
  9. foliage – The word has three syllables. Say /FO-LI-UJ/, not /fol-uj/.
  10. hierarchy – The word has four syllables. Say /HI -ER-AR-KY,/ not /hi-ar-ky/.
  11. Illinois – As with Arkansas, the final S in Illinois is not pronounced. Say /IL-I-NOY/ (and /Ar-kan-saw/, not /il-li-noiz/ or /ar-kan-sas/).
  12. library – Notice where the R comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/. [KC – Is it just me, or does this person seem to be a bit condescending?]
  13. medieval – The word has four syllables. The first E may be pronounced either short [med] or long [meed]. Say /MED-EE-EEVAL/ or /MEE-DEE-EEVAL/, not /meed-eval/.
  14. miniature – The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/. [KC – MIN-I-A-TURE with four syllables makes me laugh.]
  15. Mischievous – This is the adjective form of mischief whose meaning is “calamity” or “harm.” Mischievous is now associated with harmless fun so that the expression “malicious mischief” has been coined as another term for vandalism. Mischievous has three syllables with the accent on the first syllable: /MIS-CHI-VUS/. Don’t say /mis-chee-vee-us/.
  16. niche – The word is from the French and, though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this is one that cries out to retain a long E sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/.
  17. orient – This word has three syllables. As a verb it means to place something in its proper position in relation to something else. It comes from a word meaning “east” and originally meant positioning something in relation to the east. Now it is used with a more general meaning. Say /OR-I-ENT/, not /or-i-en-tate/.
  18. prescription – Note the prefix PRE- in this word. Say /PRE-SCRIP-TION/, not /per- scrip-tion/ or /pro-scrip-tion/. [KC – How about purrrrr-scrip-tion? How does that work for you?]
  19. preventive – The word has three syllables. A common fault is to add a syllable. Say PRE-VEN-TIVE/, not /pre-ven-ta-tive.
  20. sherbet – The word has only one R in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/. [KC – But sher-bert sounds more friendly.]

However you say it, have a safe and happy July 4.


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