Friday, July 10, 2009


I'm on the line between "word snob" and "oh who cares." In some ways I think proper grammar, spelling, and pronunciation of words are extremely important. I strive to incorporate these things in my oral and written communication. But I am also willing to overlook mistakes others make in these areas without lecturing them or thinking I am better than them.

I've always thought I did I pretty good job with the English language. But I was forced to reevaluate my performance as I looked over a list I found of the 100 most mispronounced words. I was shocked to find that I have been mispronouncing several of these words. It's kind of embarrassing.

But I'm not too snobby to admit my mistakes. Here are a few I have been guilty of mispronouncing (wrong way is in black, right way is in blue):

perogative prerogative Even in dialects where [r] does not always trade places with the preceding vowel (as the Texan pronunciations "differnce," "vetern," etc.), the [r] in this prefix often gets switched.

spitting image spit and image The very spit of someone is an exact likeness. "The spit and image" or "spit image" emphasizes the exactness.

supremacist This word is derived from "supremacy," not "supreme." A supremist would be someone who considers himself supreme. You know there is no one like that.

Tiajuana Tijuana Why make Spanish words more difficult than they already are? Just three syllables here, thank you.

and the one I am most embarrassed about:

nuclear The British and Australians find the American repetition of the [u] between the [k] and [l] quaintly amusing. Good reason to get it right.

Let me say, however, that I DO know it is supposed to be nuclear even though I sometimes slip up and say it the wrong way.


Quad Squad! said...

If our former president can say "nucular" so can you, right?

Rachel said...

I can really relate to this post. Especially to the part about wavering between "word snob" and "who cares?" Couldn't have said it better. And I have my own pronunciation problems too...not all of your words specifically (although some), but some others for sure. One I have on my blog today.