A few weeks ago, I did an article about the correct pronunciation of Adidas and people lost their minds. Look, I didn’t make it up, so stop giving me grief.
Screwing up the pronunciation of words is not your fault. Well, it’s your fault, but you can blame the young stupid you and not the adult, not-so-dumb you.
“I think that people often read words without hearing them pronounced and make up their own pronunciation in their head, especially when people are young,” says grammar author Mignon Fogerty, better known as the word expert Grammar Girl. “For example, if you’re 12 years old and you read ‘hyperbole’ in a book, and your friends never use that word, you might conclude it’s pronounced ‘hyper-bowl’ and never realized you have it wrong.”
First of all, if you’re 12 and reading anything with the word hyperbole in it, you should be smart enough to know how to pronounce the word. Secondly, most of the pronunciation mistakes we make stem from the morons who raised us — the people on television.
Mother Nature Network has a list of the 22 most common words people say wrong. Here are a few of my favorite.
The master of children’s rhymes, Theodore Geisel, took his pen name after his mother, Henrietta Seuss. He pronounced it the German way — rhyming with voice — but realized Americans naturally read his name as “soose.” But Geisel (pictured at right) didn’t bother with corrections when he realized it wasn’t bad to be phonically associated with another strong name in children’s literature, Mother Goose.
Try showing up at a Boston basketball game cheering for the “Keltics.” You’ll be laughed right out of the arena. Yet the hard “k” sound was the original way to say it. The pronunciation evolved and now most major dictionaries list both versions as correct — but the hard “k” Keltic as preferred. Except in Boston.
Whether you’re talking the restaurant or the jalapeno, there is a little bit of disagreement about whether it should be “chi-POAT-lay” or “chee-POAT-lay” (the long “e” sound making it more Spanish), but it definitely shouldn’t be “chi-pole-tay” or “chi-potl.” In fact, the restaurant chain wanted to get off on the right foot when it premiered in the U.K. last year. It launched an ad campaign that helped the British with pronunciation — with the tagline, “Delicious however you say it.”
Here are the other words you’re probably saying wrong, and will continue to say wrong, because you’re just pronouncing the words the same way everyone else does.
[H/T: Mother Nature Network]