May 7, 2010
Just because I spend most of my time dealing with the written word (writing, editing, and proofreading) doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the spoken word. In fact, I find pronunciation just as fascinating as rhetoric, grammar, and etymology.
Recently, yourdictionary.com posted a list of the 100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in English. Here are a few that I find particularly intriguing:
Arctic (or Antarctic) mispronounced Artic (or Antartic)
Why do we leave off that first c? I think it’s because when we say Arctic correctly, we seemingly break the word in two (Arc-tic), while it’s much smoother to say Artic. But please don’t!
escape mispronounced excape
We have a tendency to form “ex” sounds where they don’t belong. Take, for instance, the terms espresso (expresso), et cetera (excetera), and especially (expecially). It hurts even to type these linguistic monstrosities.
foliage mispronounced foilage
No idea why this happens (I’m immune to this mistake because I grew up in New England, where we take great pride in our fall foliage).
regardless mispronounced irregardless
Where did this even come from? Hearing it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me.
mayonnaise mispronounced mannaise
If you’re in doubt, please just call it mayo.
prescription mispronounced perscription
OK, I admit it: I’m guilty of this one. I don’t know why, but I often mix up per- and pre-. The same concept goes for perspire (mispronounced prespire).
sherbet mispronounced sherbert
I worked in an ice cream shop in high school, so I’ve heard this one over and over again. Ironically, the shop was in Rhode Island, where most people inadvertently drop their r’s!