Words commonly mispronounced

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by I Push Wood, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. I Push Wood Dreadlocked Skateboard Fanatic Registered Senior Member

    Oh god, I get my friends down at the skate park saying "o' course!" all the time... Shouldn't be a big deal, but it's like nails on a chalk board for me.
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  3. takandjive Killer Queen Registered Senior Member


    That is a GREAT story. And I thought my niece calling chihuahuas "chi-la-las" was funny.

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  5. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    No mention yet of the number one mispronunciation I hear on a daily basis: "ask".

    It boggles my mind that people can pronounce this word as "axe"....
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  7. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    I bet this one gets mispronounced alot:


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  8. leopold Valued Senior Member

    the state fish of hawaii is:
    Humuhumunuku-nukuapua 'a

    how's that for a gold medal?
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I hate to break it to you, but FEB-yoo-ary is an accepted pronunciation, although not preferred.
    Geeze dude, "o' " is a venerable, established contraction of "of," that even occurs in the British Isles. Perhaps you've heard of "twelve o'clock," "top o' the mornin' to ye"? To put an F in front of a K or TH sound is quite an exercise of the vocal organs, and we tend to simplify when speaking casually. I guarantee you say "o' the" in casual speech; those are practically noise words with no meaning.
    That's an unusual phonetic combination in English. We have thousands of words that end in KS because S is both our plural inflection for nouns and our third-person-singular-present-tense inflection for verbs. Likes, books, takes, works... you probably can't get through three sentences before you encounter that combination. Your mouth gets a lot of practice.

    Whereas ending a word in SK is very unusual. To be sure we have a few of those words: risk, disk, task. But "ask" is the only one that's really common. It's natural that it would endure metathesis and fall in line with the more common arrangement of those two phonemes.

    Perhaps as computer jargon proliferates, "disk" will become a common word. And project management principles bring "task" and "risk" into common parlance.

    It's easy to mispronounce "ask" as "ax" because the context makes it obvious which you mean. But it would be confusing to muddle "task" as "tax" in a business context, which is where the word is most likely to be uttered.

    And I can't imagine anyone walking into a computer center and casually saying, "There's a virus loose, so I want you to scan your dicks."
  10. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    Maybe after the local computer clubs' annual "night on the town", perhaps?

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  11. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    yep, that one makes me crazy. Or 'idea' pronounced 'ideer'. :wallbang:
  12. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    It's back to the liberry for all of ya.
  13. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    My daughter calls an escalator an alligator and an ambulance an ambalance.

    I hate when people pronounce police with a huge emphasis on the po
  14. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    I don't think alligator in place of escalator is a mispronunciation as much as it's just the wrong word, or maybe her accent is way different than mine, but I'd have to say escalator really really weird to get it to sound like alligator. But at least they rhyme and she's not like my brother who calls lettuce, salad and apartments, hotels and flamingos, ostriches. It would be cute if he was like you know 3, but he's a teenager so it's just sad (he has a learning disability, but still).
    A lot of kids say ballyball instead of volleyball, banella instead of vanilla, pagetti for spaghetti, but I assume they'll outgrow this.
  15. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    Just kids learning the words: it may become a family tradition.

    An ex G/F's 4-year old daughter always had trouble with the word hospital:
    it was either a plural "Are we going to the hospitals?" or corrupted "That's the bespital over there!"

    And at the age of 53 I am STILL reminded by my mother of my inability as a 3-year to pronounce the word "van", even with a "run-up":
    v v v BAN!

    Mothers, who'd have them?
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's just a regional accent. Parts of New England used to have a non-rhotic dialect like the British. That means R after a vowel is silent. Bostonians would say "pahk the cah," like Englishmen, except the vowel was much different, more like "pack the ca." But they went one step further. Words that ended in a vowel would have a spurious R added. A parka in Boston was a "pocker." That dialect spread a little way into New York. Their way of saying "idear" was something the rest of us found amusing so it caught on. Today you don't hear that dialect so much any more. On David E. Kelley's TV shows set in Boston (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, etc.) absolutely nobody ever talks that way. But you do still hear "idear," sometimes for humorous effect but often because that's the way people taught their children to say it. It might be all that's left of the dialect.
    I've already noted in this thread that unaccented vowels often degrade into a schwa (IPA ə) in both American and British English. It's such a powerful force that we all feel it unconsciously. Your daughter is simply applying that force to the unaccented U. After all, none of us actually says AM-byoo-lans unless we're teaching the word to our children. We all say AM-byə-ləns. Losing the Y that makes a long U a diphthong is also a pervasive force in American English; after all the British say nyooz for news, dyooty for duty and edyucation for edjacation. Your daughter is applying both forces like a good American. She's probably just a few generations ahead of the rest of the population in the simplification of American phonetics.
    Yet another powerful force in any English dialect is the Germanic language family's standard of putting the accent on the first syllable of a word (as long as it's not an ancient prefix like be-, for-, etc.). Police is a French word, not a native Anglo-Saxon word, and French words invariably have the accent on the last syllable, but still we don't feel entirely comfortable with it. We did the same thing with enclave and we're working on debacle.
  17. ThinkingMansCrumpet Registered Member

    Sure!(sherr), jus' dooin' her dootie.
    Cringe, sounds purely shithouse from here.
    Oh yeah but then the doories still airut
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    English always looks funny when it's written phonetically, simply because that's not the way were used to seeing it written. But every one of those words is commonly pronounced the way you spelled them in quick, informal (U.S.) conversation. "Sure" is always "sher" unless we slow down to explain it to a foreign student. "Just" before "doing"? You'd have to slow down and enunciate each word with a pause before the next one, before you could succeed in pronouncing the consonant cluster TD. "Doin'" for "doing"--Even the British change the participial suffix -ing to -in in colloquial speech; that's hardly an Americanism. "Dootie"? That's the standard American pronunciation. We don't say "dyootie," "nyooz" and "fortyoon" like the Brits. One of the myriad differences between our standard dialects.
    I see, you must be British or Aussie. I can figure out that "airut" is probably "all right," but I have no idea what "doories" is a contraction of. Clearly something plus "is."

    It used to be common to indicate lower-class speech by writing "says" as "sez" and "was" as "wuz," even though those are both the standard pronunciations of those words.
  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I've been told by my Korean friend that my English is more easily understood than the American one because the words are clearly enunciated.

    IOW, I would say , Shure, she izz justt doingg herr duty. ie pronounce each and every word.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Yes, that's standard Indian English dialect. It's okay if you speak slowly, but it's a nightmare for us when Indians who speak that way talk fast, i.e. at the speed of British English rather than American. We get a lot of phonetic clues for parsing sentences from the way words are or are not connected, from the difference in duration of the syllables, from the change in volume and pitch from one syllable to another ("accented" or "stressed" syllables). But when the language is spoken more mechanically, with each syllable having the same length, pitch and volume, and there's not even any telltale allophony as the phoneme at the end of one word affects the phoneme at the beginning of the next word and vice versa, we lose our clues and we have trouble figuring out which syllables belong to which word.

    I can see how a foreigner might appreciate hearing English spoken that way because it's a little bit like reading, but for us it's a real challenge.

    Compared to Spanish, English phonetics is rather flat. But compared to the languages of India apparently it's very dynamic. I hear my coworkers speaking on the phone to their families in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, etc., and it sounds like they're reciting the alphabet. Da da da da da da da da da, every syllable the same except for the vowels and consonants. Since Indians from different provinces speak to each other in English, I get the impression that they've developed a dialect that mimics the understated dynamics of their own Indic and Dravidian languages.

    Listen to English speech like it was music, and try to capture the tone, cadence and other dynamics. Don't talk like a computer.
  21. mikenostic Stop pretending you're smart! Registered Senior Member

    One word I commonly find mispronounced is mischievous. It's supposed to be pronounced mis-cheh vus with the emphasis on the first syllable.
    It is often pronounced mis chee vee us with the emphasis on the second. For some reason it makes me cringe when I hear it like that.
  22. tim840 Registered Senior Member

    im actually not sure whether its supposed to be pronounced "MIS-chih-vuhs" or "mis-CHEE-vee-uhs"... i always pronounce it the first way, but for all i know it could be wrong. i generally figure that if i pronounce a word in manner rendered POSSIBLE by the spelling - even if it is not the usual/correct way of saying it - its alright, because it COULD be that. for instance, i say "albeit" as "AL-bit" even though i think its SUPPOSED to be said "ahl-BEE-it" because from seeing it written, i had thought that was how it was pronounced. i didnt hear it spoken until later.

    Edit: upon looking at the word "mischievous," i have realized that in fact the second pronunciation described by me and Mikenostic is in fact impossible due to the spelling, as the final vowel combination is solely "ou"
  23. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    Or the idiots that pronounce it as mis chee vee uss.
    Or is that just a UK thing?

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