Words We Love to Misfronounce
As you are reading this, you should know that I love to misfronounce words. Droppin in a word intentionamally misfronounced and lookin at the faces of da people and seein their responses is a game that is fun to play. Also, you should by now realize that this article will be tedious to read at some points, as I drop in the ohcasional misspelling of a word to imply the misfronunciation. I’m enjoyin it, although it takes longer to write.
Finally, there are a few ground rules. We will not make fun of speech impediments of any kind. We also will not make fun of people for whom English is a second language. First of all, both of those are mean, and furthermore, the comedy is too easy and cheap. The four readers of cloften.com deserbe better. I’m inclined to make fun of British pronunciation, but then some Brit will start rantin about how they determine true English and we are the ones misfronouncing words. Then an American will start talkin trash about the Revolutionary War and dental hygiene and it will spiral out of control fast. We don’t need that.
Finally, most, if not all, of the regional misfronunciations will be makin fun of Southerners, simply because I am one. None of these are intended to be associated with ethnic groups, axcept in as much that Southerners are their own ethnic group. Yahd and cah for yard and car would easily make this list if I were from New England, but I will save such things for a list on the ten reasons why Southerners are better than Yankees. Anywhoos, on wit da list.
10. Isapropren: “My head hurts. Will you get me some isaproprens.”
You may be thinkin that this is not a commonly misfronounced word. You would be correct, but it is one that I hear a lot. I have dedicated #10 to all the words that my parents and my wife’s parents misfronounce all the time. I will not say who misfronounces which, because this isn’t about makin fun of any parent in particular, because this is really dedicated to all parents everywhere who had some word that they couldn’t say. In our homes we had isapropren, chafarone, and a pronunciation of potentate so outrageous that I will not spell it phonetically for you. Also, didn’t we all have a grandma or aunt that said warsh? (Side note, one of our parents and siblings had an argument about how to pronounce the name Shemp from the Three Stooges. The parent pronounced it with the always intriguing silent “m.” Where does that come from? To this day, this parent will argue this unwaveringly.)
9. acrosst: “Be careful when you go acrosst the street; be sure to look both ways.”
Initially, when I heard this, I assumed that it was a “t” sound at the end of across, and that the misfronunciation was simply inexplicavle. What I have come to believe is that it is an “ed” sound with a hard “d” that sounds like a “t.” So the word is acrossed. I think we could easily make acrossed its own word, by making it the past tense of the preposition across. Use across with a present tense verb and acrossed with a past tense. “I am gonna across the street today just as I went acrossed yesterday.” I think my wife will be with me on this. She has been withed me on stuff like this before. (Withed is apparently already a word–to bind with withes which are tough, flexible twigs of willow, osier, etc., used for binding things. Who knew?)
8. ideal: “I have a great ideal. Let’s go to a movie tonight.”
This is classic. Using ideal when you mean idea. It gives off the vibe of being a morally superior idea. It’s not just an idea; it’s an ideal. Here’s a fun game to play if you know someone who uses ideal when they mean idea. See if when they use ideal, if it still is a meaningful sentence. For example, look at the example sentence. Instead of me havin a thought that we should go to a movie, I have a standard of excellence that drives the need for us to go to a movie.
7. The giant list of words that we all pronounce the wrong way all the time to the point that we’ve given up tryin.
I’ll start with the words spelled correctly and then you will think, “What? I don’t pronounce those words the wrong way.” Then I will phonetically write what we say. Then you will think, “Oh, yeah. Nevermind.”
Wednesday, February, espresso, realtor, chipotle, duct tape, breakfast, veterinarian
Wensday, Febuary, expresso, realator, chipolte, duck tape, breafast, vetrinarian (Auto-correct fixed all of these. That says something.)
I think Brett Farve would like this one.
6. strenth: “I hope I have the strenth to get through this list.”
The power of this word is that people who say strenth over strength know that other people pronounce it strength. They are choosing to say strenth, believing it is the correct pronunciation. I amember hearin this a lot from people at church. Maybe it is an old lady southern thing, because many of my Sunday School teachers would use strenth instead of strength. I remember inquiring about it and I was told that you could pronounce it either way. I’m sorry, what? You can pronounce it either way? I suppose you can. You could also pronounce it, clemfadoopie, but you would, in fact, be wrong. (Is anyone old enough or random enough to remember the Martha Ray Polident denture commercials? She used strenth in that commercial. I was maybe 8, and it bothered me even then. What is wrong with me? Please don’t answer that.)
5. prostrate/prostate: (Example sentences below)
Let us be very clear. Here are the definitions of these two words,
prostrate—stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission
prostate—delicate internal guy parts.
I know that it may be hard in casual conversation to remember which is which and you may have to stop and think and pronounce them slowly and clearly. That’s ok. We will wait. It’s better that you go slow and say it right. Otherwise you may find yourself sayin something embarrassing. For example, I was at a prayer meeting once where we gathered around a friend and began to pray for his prostrate exam, which is of course, a test to see how well and how far you can bow down. You could also find yourself singin “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” and be singin the line, “Let angels’ prostates fall.” I have a joke here, but we should probably just move on, and remember, be careful. (see also, conscience and conscious)
4. Aks: “Com’ere and lehme aks chu a querschun.”
“But Cloften, it is so hard to say ask. It’s so much easier to make the one consonant sound than havin to deliberately pronounce the s and then the k. That’s too much work.” Since this word is with us forever, let’s give aks its own definition. Let’s make aks a more intense form of the word ask. When you are just askin say ask, but when you are askin with anger, say aks. “I asked you once, don’t make me aks you again.” See?
Definition: Aks—to ask a question with the violent intensity of a lumberjack.
3. supposably: “This is supposably entertaining, but so far, zzzzzz”
I am not sure that we can rightly put supposably on the list. Supposably, as it turns out, is a word. If I never write again, this will have all been worth it for that discovery alone. Supposably is the adverbial form for supposable meaning capable of being supposed. “Supposably, this article could become award-winning. It is not likely, but it is possivle.” Howeber we use supposably when we mean supposedly, something that is assumed to be true. “The author of this article is supposedly very smart, but have you read this?” So technicamally, this would be bad grammar rather than a misfronunciation. However, since none of the people usin the word supposably knew that, it’s in.
2. The random adding of ‘s’ to singular entities. “Let’s go to the Wal-marts and go shoppin for TV’s, but first check the internets to see what kind of prices we should be lookin for.”
The adding of “s” is great and should be encouraged in all circles by everyone. Furthermore, if you are talkin about stores, you need to also add “the” before it, unless the name has a “the” and then you should remove it (see, Home Depots). You will get two kinds of responses. The first is that no one will flinch and that’s great. The second is that people will look at you like you are an ignorant, hayseed which is even better. (I remember right where I was when George Bush said internets in one of his debates with John Kerry. My wife and I paused the DVR and died laughin. In the spirit of bipartisanship, that was the same debate that John Kerry said, “Looking around the room, I can see the two of us and Charlie (Gibson) are the only ones who will be affected by my tax increase.” You can tell that by looking around the room, Senator? Classy.) (See also, the addin of “r” to the end of towns that end in vowels. The Wal-Marts in El Derader (El Dorado) is better than the one in Vilonier (Vilonia).)
1. nucular: “The nucular crisis in Iran is simyular to the one in North Korea.”
Why is nucular number one? Nucular has two great things going for it. First, it was popularized by a sitting president, which is great. Second, people don’t know they are misfronouncing it. I was talkin to people about this list and told them that nucular was gonna to be number one. The response was, “What? Say that again.” I repeated, “nucular.” “Ok, now say what it’s supposed to be.” “Uh, nuclear.” “Oh, yeah, right.” In fact, in some circles, it sounds haughty and pretentious to be so precise to actually say, nuclear.” Very nice. (See also simyular)
As always, I have a lot of apologies to make. I would like to apologize to prolly, I-talian, pasketti/basketti, punkin, and library. Please take no offense that you didn’t make the list. Yer garate werdz.
Post yer comments here:
(Realized that the word mispronounce is nowhere in this column. It will be hard to find this article without the phrase “words we mispronounce”)