50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid

By Maeve Maddox

Fred Astaire drew laughs back in the Thirties with his song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in which the lovers can’t agree on the pronunciation of words like either, neither, and tomato.

incorrect pronunciations

On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternate pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternate pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

Here are 50 frequently mispronounced words. The list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a good start.

1. aegis – The ae in this word is pronounced /ee/. Say EE-JIS/, not /ay-jis/. In mythology the “aegis” is associated especially with the goddess Athene. It is her shield with the Gorgon’s head on it.

2. anyway – The problem with this word is not so much pronunciation as the addition of an unnecessary sound. Don’t add an s to make it “anyways.” The word is ANYWAY.

3. archipelago – Because the word is from Greek, the ch is pronounced with a /k/ sound. Say /AR-KI-PEL-A-GO/, not /arch-i-pel-a-go/.

4. arctic – Note the C after the R. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.

5. accessory – the first C has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.

6. ask – The S comes before the K. Say /ASK/ not /aks/.

7. asterisk – Notice the second S. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.

8. athlete – The word has two syllables, not three. Say /ATH-LETE/, not /ath-uh-lete/.

9. barbed wire– Notice the AR in the first syllable. Say /BARBD/, not /bob/.

10. cache – The word is of French origin, but it does not end with an accented syllable. A cache is a hiding place or something that is being hidden: a cache of supplies; a cache of money; a cache of drugs. Say /KASH/, not /ka-shay/.

11. candidate – Notice the first d. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.

12. cavalry – This word refers to troops that fight on horseback. Say /KAV-UL-RY/, not /kal-vuh-ry/. NOTE: Calvary refers the place where Jesus was crucified and IS pronounced /kal-vuh-ry/.)

13. chaos – The spelling ch can represent three different sounds in English: /tch/ as in church, /k/ as in Christmas, and /sh/ as in chef. The first sound is heard in words of English origin and is the most common. The second sound of ch, /k/, is heard in words of Greek origin. The third and least common of the three ch sounds is heard in words adopted from modern French. Chaos is a Greek word. Say /KAY-OS/, not /tchay-os/.

14. clothes – Notice the TH spelling and sound. Say /KLOTHZ/, not /kloz/.

15. daïs – A daïs is a raised platform. The pronunciation fault is to reverse the vowel sounds. The word is often misspelled as well as mispronounced. Say /DAY-IS/ not /dī-is/.

16. dilate – The word has two syllables, not three. Say /DI-LATE/, not /di-a-late/.

17. drowned – This is the past participle form of the verb drown. Notice that there is no D on drown. Don’t add one when using the word in its past form. Say /DROWND/, not /drown-ded/.

18. et cetera – This Latin term is often mispronounced and its abbreviation is frequently misspelled. Say /ET CET-ER-A/, not /ex cet-er-a/. For the abbreviation, write ETC., not ect.

19. February – Just about everyone I know drops the first r in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.

20. foliage – The word has three syllables. Say /FO-LI-UJ/, not /fol-uj/.

21. forte – English has two words spelled this way. One comes from Italian and the other from French. The Italian word, a musical term meaning “loud,” is pronounced with two syllables: /FOR-TAY/. The French word, an adjective meaning “strength” or “strong point,” is pronounced with one syllable: /FORT/.

22. Halloween – The word for the holiday Americans celebrate with such enthusiasm on October 31 derives from “Hallowed Evening,” meaning “evening that has been made holy.” The word “hallow” comes from Old English halig, meaning “holy.” Notice the a in the first syllable and say /HAL-O-WEEN/, not /hol-lo-ween/.

23. height – The word ends in a /T/ sound, not a /TH/ sound. Say /HITE/, not /hith/.

24. heinous – People unfamiliar with the TV show Law and Order: S.V.U. may not know that heinous has two syllables. (The show begins with this sentence: “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.”) Say /HAY-NUS/, not /heen-i-us/.

25. hierarchy – The word has four syllables. Say /HI -ER-AR-KY,/ not /hi-ar-ky/.

26. Illinois – As with Arkansas, the final “s” in Illinois is not pronounced. Say /IL-I-NOY/ (and /Ar-kan-saw/, not /il-li-noiz/ or /ar-kan-sas/). NOTE: Some unknowledgeable folks may still be trying to pronounce Arkansas as if it had something to do with Kansas. The pronunciation /ar-kan-zuz/ is waaay off base.

27. interpret – The word has three syllables. Don’t add one! Say /IN-TER-PRET/, not /in-ter-pre-tate/.

28. incident – Something that happens is an “incident.” Don’t say “incidence” when you mean a specific event. There IS a word “incidence,” but it has a different meaning.

29. “irregardless” – See the real word, regardless.

30. jewelry – The word has three syllables. Say /JEW-EL-RY/, not /jew-el-er-y/. The pronunciation /jewl-ry/ is common but not correct, as it removes one syllable from the word.

31. library – Notice where the R comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/.

32. medieval – The word has four syllables. The first E may be pronounced either short [med] or long [meed]. Say /MED-EE-EEVAL/ or /MEE-DEE-EEVAL/, not /meed-eval/.

33. miniature – The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/.

34. Mischievous – This is the adjective form of mischief whose meaning is “calamity” or “harm.” Mischievous is now associated with harmless fun so that the expression “malicious mischief” has been coined as another term for vandalism. Mischievous has three syllables with the accent on the first syllable: /MIS-CHI-VUS/. Don’t say /mis-chee-vee-us/.

35. niche – The word is from the French and, though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this is one that cries out to retain a long “e” sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/.

36. orient – This word has three syllables. As a verb it means to place something in its proper position in relation to something else. It comes from a word meaning “east” and originally meant positioning something in relation to the east. Now it is used with a more general meaning. Say /OR-I-ENT/, not /or-i-en-tate/.

37. old-fashioned – This adjective is formed from a past-participle: “fashioned.” Don’t leave off the ED. Say /OLD-FASHIOND/, not /old-fashion/.

38. picture – There’s a K sound in picture. Don’t confuse picture with pitcher. Say /PIK-TURE/, not /pitch-er/. Pitcher is a different word. A pitcher is a serving vessel with a handle.

39. precipitation – This is a noun that refers to rain or snow, or anything else that normally falls from the sky. As with prescription (below), the prefix is PRE-. Say /PRE-CIP-I-TA-TION/, not /per-cip–i-ta-tion/.

40. prescription – Note the prefix PRE- in this word. Say /PRE-SCRIP-TION/, not /per- scrip-tion/ or /pro-scrip-tion/.

41. preventive – The word has three syllables. A common fault is to add a syllable. Say PRE-VEN-TIVE/, not /pre-ven-ta-tive.

42. pronunciation – This word is a noun. It comes from the verb pronounce, BUT it is not pronounced like the verb. Say /PRO-NUN-CI-A-TION/, not /pro-nounce-i-a-tion/.

43. prostate – This word for a male gland is often mispronounced. There is an adjective prostrate which means to be stretched out facedown on the ground. When speaking of the gland, however, say /PROS-TATE/, not /pros-trate/.

44. Realtor – The word has three syllables. Say /RE-AL-TOR/, not /re-a-la-tor/.

45. regardless – The word has three syllables. Please don’t add an IR to make it into the abomination “irregardless”.

46. sherbet – The word has only one r in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/.

47. spayed – This is a one-syllable word, the past participle form of the verb to spay, meaning to remove the ovaries from an animal. Like the verb drown (above) the verb spay does not have a D in its infinitive form. Don’t add one to the past participle. Say /SPADE/, not /spay-ded/.

48. ticklish – The word has two syllables. Say /TIK-LISH/, not /tik-i-lish/.

49. tract – Religious evangelists often hand out long printed statements of belief called “tracts.” That’s one kind of “tract.” Houses are built on “tracts.” Then there’s the word “track.” Athletes run on “tracks.” Animals leave “tracks.” Don’t say /TRAKT/ when you mean /TRAK/, and vice-versa.

50. vehicle – Although there is an H in the word, to pronounce it is to sound hicky. Say /VEE-IKL/, not /vee-Hikl/.

51. wintry – Here’s another weather word often mispronounced, even by the weather person. The word has two syllables. Say /WIN-TRY/, not /win-ter-y/.

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1,356 Responses to “50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid”

  • Shoni

    No one mentioned converse/conversate?

  • John

    OK after reading your intro I was all ready to be a good little linguist and say that there’s no such thing as “correct” pronunciation, only standard pronunciation, and that the standards can change depending on where you live and who you talk to (which is how dialects appear in the first place). But after reading a few of the examples… people actually *say* these things? Not being American I’m exposed to a whole different spectrum of errors than you, and some of these ones blow my mind. I mean, “tchaos”, seriously?

    PS I love reading these kinds of articles’ comments board just for all the self styled pedants (or “peddan’ts”, thank you Eric) making stupid mistakes regardless.

    PPS Megan^ is a dick, I’d rather be a stereotype than come up with the damn things.

  • Jim

    What about the question words like when, what, where, and why?

    I remember I had an English teacher in elementary school who always used to pronounced an the H sound before the words.

  • CJ

    While I do understand the frustration of mispronunciation (I cringe when I hear aks instead of ask), I can only describe much of this list as pretentious.
    Before anyone starts ripping on other people’s pronunciation, he or she should take into consideration accents (the reason why I never actually say anything about those irritating pronunciations) and, oh yeah, dipthongs. Medieval, eh?
    And while, yes, you did have some fair points on additions/deletion of syllables, I really don’t know how to take “to pronounce [the h in vehicle] is to sound hicky” as pretentious and ridiculous since “hicky” isn’t even a word.

    Regarding the last comment about “white people,” who the hell do you think you are? I would LOVE for you to tell me what race I am. Oh, wait. You would have no idea sitting at your computer feeling all offended that there are people who value the ability communicate well.
    Everyone has his or her pet peeves and I bet you vocalize yours every chance you get (maybe one being white people correcting grammar?).

  • Azri

    “tempe*r*ature,” not “tempitchur”

  • susie

    i have a co-worker who misuses words on purpose, she thinks its cute! UGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i hate her

  • Frosty

    @ Megan

    You devote time TO something, not with.

  • amy

    being austrailan i know it may be somewhat hypocritical of me to comment on this subject but a lot of the corrections in the other comments here seem to be people complaining about accents, at least as far as vowel pronunciation is concerned, most of the time this is something i make allowances for when i hear other people say things wrong, my problem is people who continue to mispronounce words specific to a locality when they have heard the correct form, amongst other aussies things like ‘nasi goreng’ indonesian for fried rice, its a phonetic language that doesn’t have a hard s sound, i have a similar problem with americans using a soft s to pronounce ‘aussie’ in australian slang ‘ss’ is always ‘z’, no australians say it otherwise so i don’t know how this variation has occurred. other pet peeves have to be antarctica is said how its spelled, people who drop the first t always make me cringe, another common error is people saying pronounciation instead of pronunciation, and the phrase “i could care less” to mean i don’t care, it’s “coudn’t” or it doesn’t make sense. anyway, i’m going to have to take your word for it on those mispronunciations mentioned, because i’ve never heard most of them, i suppose americans make different mistakes, but thanks for an interesting read 🙂

  • Charles

    I would HAVE to add:

    Government which has an “n” there in the middle and should be pronounced Gov-ern-ment not gover-ment.

    Vegetable which should be Veg-et-able not veg-table

    And Probably which should be pro-ba-bly not pro-bly
    (interesting side note to that one. My sister, when she was young, wrote the word “proi” on a school paper. When questioned about the word it was discovered that it was the word “probably” but she wrote it as she said it (prah-ee.) Hooked on phonics definitely would not have worked for her)

    I’m proud to say that I scored 48 out of 51 from the list. And Sherbet I actually thought was spelled with an “r” as I seldom order or eat the stuff I had just taken the common pronunciation for granted. I’ll have to start getting myself some extra funky looks for pronouncing it correctly now. I already get them for such things as Aluminium, Comfortable, February, Government, Vegetable, etc.

  • amy

    megan which is worse: playing to a stereo type or making certain assumptions despite the knowledge that what they are based on is in fact a stereo type, even by your own admission?

  • Charles

    I just HAD to write this, whether it gets approved or not.

    To Megan (comment number 135):

    It’s not that those who are correcting grammar are stereotyping their ethnicity but rather their intellectual stature. It’s not that we are white, we’re SMART. I know a LOT of “White” people who desperately and repeatedly need their grammar corrected. I also know of a number of “Black” and “Yellow” people who are first to speak up when such corrections are needed.

    Those of advanced intellect are not constrained to a single ethnic background or geographical origin any more than those of substandard comprehension are.

  • John

    As an Australian I am very surprised by the similarities in pronuounciation. Almost every (the exceptions being heinous: HEE-NUS and often: OFFEN) word is described as how Australians are taught to speak. From reading the postings I think pronunciation is (should be) ruffly the same everywhere; it is the accent that differs.

  • Beth Barton

    May I congratulate AvidR for a very well written opinion.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the previous 136 entries and even though I am a 67 year old Australian, I managed to get the gist of what everyone had to offer as their opinion or suggestion.
    I have always been a stickler for pronunciation and correct grammar and I would say that it all boils down to what we were taught.
    I do feel that TV writers have a lot to answer for also, as they want to be perceived as being current but do not realise that they are projecting bad influences to young people.

  • Robert

    “Arctic” was actually borrowed into English from the Latin word “articus” (note the lack of a ‘c’ before the ‘t’). The Latin word, however, comes from the Greek word “arktikos”. At some point, the powers that be decided to add a silent ‘c’ to the spelling to be more etymologically accurate. Following the change, people spent decades complaining (such as you are here) about all those stupid people pronouncing the silent ‘c’. In fact, /ah-tick/ is the only pronunciation the OED gives for this word (that being the british “r-less” pronunciation)

    I tend to be a descriptivist, and feel that, linguistically speaking, it’s pointless to enforce all these little rules that people feel are so important. From a stylistic point of view, yes, there are things that sound better than others, there are pronunciations that sound “uneducated”, and there probably is some value in people knowing what the “correct” way to say something is. What I get really annoyed with is people claiming that all the mispronunciations and slips in grammar are indicative of an overall decline in language, and pretty soon we will be reduced to gibberish. This is simply not held up by the evidence. People have been saying the same thing for 1000 years or more, and language changes, but it never degrades.

    Sorry for the length of the comment

  • mike

    niche is pronounced nitch accept it, check proper dictionaries

  • Gabrielle

    ARCHIPELAGO:
    In my dictionary it states that the English word was influenced in the 16th century by the Italian word ARCIPELAGO (which is definitely pronounced “AR-CHI-PE-LA GO” CH as in CHANGE). It does however also state that the correct pronunciation is with a K sound and not a CH sound.

    The origin may be Greek but in my opinion they should both be accepted. It just sounds so strange to say it with a K, maybe it’s because I live in Italy and I hear it so often with a CH sound.

  • not-chad

    Jared Stein: That’s very democratic of you. It’s very PC and nice of you to say let’s let’s all hold hands and love each other, maaan. However, some people – you know, the ones who bothered to go to school to try to communicate effectively – actually do lose respect for those who can’t be bothered to speak correctly. Sure, people will do what they want to do, but that doesn’t make it right. For example, George Bush, who is widely-perceived to be an idiot, was voted into office. Twice. Change is natural, but it’s not always for the better.

  • Asher

    If everybody spoke in the same way, nobody would have anything to say.

    Embrace the quirks of your language and enjoy when people speak differently from you. Language is dynamic, it doesn’t exist in a dictionary or prescriptive grammar.

    All the same, I wince at a couple of these =P

  • Mel

    I stopped reading this when I got to “February”. It’s widely accepted that the first “r” is silent. As with most English words, the spelling doesn’t necessarily tell you how the word is pronounced.

    And “pecan”? Well – sorry if this annoys you, but no Brit is going to say pe-caaayn. We have different accents. You sound strange to us too, but we’re generally quite polite about it.

  • Nazreel

    Robert V come to Scotland. We don’t use intrusive rs here. We also know how to pronounce “ch” properly. Loch not lock!

  • Doug Rosburyh

    Please include (comfortable) in your list. This needs urgent attention.
    Thanks——-Doug Rosbury

  • Shan

    Another one to point out – Merriam Webster accepts “sherbert” as an alternative spelling to “sherbet.” Which is honestly the only way I have ever seen it. Thus, that pronunciation could be considered as correct.

    The way in which words are pronounced does change over time. Without that trend, a language becomes dead. Is that not what happened to Latin? It was in use for a millennium after the fall of Rome, but Renaissance humanists made the decision to standardize and perfect the language. From that point on, it became unchanging. Certainly, English is not a dead language. Pronunciation-elitists may just have to accept that.

  • Will

    The ‘H’ at the start of the words herb is not silent. Honest. It’s a herb, not an erb. Similarly, Bernard is pronounced bUrn-ud, not bur-nArd (I used capitals to show emphasis). American culture has a habit of pronouncing these words in a slight French accent, which is weird. Granted, the words may be of French origin, but many many English words originate from other languaegs, and we rarely overpronounce them in these accents.

  • Rooty

    19. February – Just about everyone I know drops the first r in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.

    -I pronounce this Feb-ro-ee and I’m not going to change.

    24. heinous – People unfamiliar with the TV show Law and Order: S.V.U. may not know that heinous has two syllables. (The show begins with this sentence: “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.”) Say /HAY-NUS/, not /heen-i-us/.

    -Heen-us.

    30. jewelry – The word has three syllables. Say /JEW-EL-RY/, not /jew-el-er-y/. The pronunciation /jew-ry/ is common but not correct, as it removes one syllable from the word.

    -Jool-ry.

    31. library – Notice where the R comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/.

    -Lib-ry.

    33. miniature – The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/.

    -I say min-a-ture. I don’t care.

    46. sherbet – The word has only one r in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/.

    -A standard British variation is sher-bert.

    48. ticklish – The word has two syllables. Say /TIK-LISH/, not /tik-i-lish/.

    -I say tick-i-lish. Always have, always will.

    50. vehicle – Although there is an H in the word, to pronounce it is to sound hicky. Say /VEE-IKL/, not /vee-Hikl/.

    -I sometimes say ve-hikl for comedy purposes. Many British people do.

    So, to conclude, no. All the ones I highlighted above are standard British variations on English words. And guess what? Britain is where English comes from.

  • Rooty

    Also, can Americans PLEASE stop calling British people “Brits”. If you must, call us “Britons”. “Brit” is an awful word.

  • Ryan

    Prescriptivism for the lolz. Some of these are legitimate complaints, but “vehicle” has a slight h sound. Also, considering how demanding and precise you’re being about how things are pronounced, it escapes me why you wouldn’t want to use something a little more nuanced with your transcriptions of the “proper” way to say words like hierarchy or daïs (for instance IPA or X-SAMPA), especially when the same combination of letters represents two very different sounds (ay represents /æɪ/ in daïs but /eɪ/ in heinous). Also, “foliage” has 2 syllables, no one I know gives the i a full beat. It’s slurred into a diphthong and/or palatalizes the l preceding it.

  • a humble linguist

    Clearly who ever wrote this is not a linguist and is not aware of acceptable dialectal differences. Just because it may not be the IPA pronunciation given in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If that were the case, everything said by Americans would be wrong because we don’t speak with RP, which I would assume would be the prescriptivist norm in terms of English Phonology.

  • Nobody

    Dear Xander,
    Guess I’m nobody. My lips make the “w” in jewels.

  • Kendra

    All of this stuff does really bother me for whatever reason, though I admit I’ve always said KASH-AY instead of KASH.

    It really bugs me when people say “crown” instead of “CRAY-on.”

  • jezebel

    wow… an instruction manual on punctuation! pompous twat.

  • James

    AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Bloody yanks!! No one says mini-a-ture!!! How dare you American idiots tell people how to pronounce English words properly!! Your accents and pronunciations are a mish-mash of other countries and cultures! I hate the American pronunciation. It’s a pox upon this Earth. What a waste of time this website is. You make me sick.

    Thanks,

    James

  • The Dude

    Lemme aks you sompn! Why do people talk? I think that it is to convey a message and hope that message is received and understood, maybe even also felt by the receiver. So if you understand the message being delivered why do some pretentious bastards insist on correcting it? It seems like it would be pretty dull if every English speaker in the world had the same accent, dialect, vernacular, etc. Language is not stagnant, it is a constantly evolving and changing thing, building upon itself through itself and it’s users. My advise is to learn to enjoy the funny quirks of language that annoy some of you so much.

  • Bill Vincent

    Jim: I’ve also known many people who pronounced “wh” with an audible “h” preceding it. Simply put, it’s a regional mispronunciation. As is the case with a great many things, the fact that many people believe something to be true or correct, this does not MAKE it true or correct.
    200 years ago most everyone thought the earth was flat. Their assurance didn’t flatten the earth. It stayed roundish regardless. 🙂

  • captaincrank

    I disagree with your pronunciation of “et cetera”. I know the t in “et” is not pronounced, but others might not. So, when you’re telling people to pronounce it correctly, I think you should spell it “AY CETERA” or something like that.

  • legbamel

    If Realtor has three syllables, then does real, as in real estate, have two? I agree that real-uh-tor is incorrect, but reel-tor is the proper pronunciation of the word in question.

  • mohan

    I think there is lot more words than this we are,still pronouncing them wrong.I have seen many people pronouncing even the common words,wrong

  • Pauline Waggoner

    I often hear and read the word “tack” misused, as in “they’re going to take a different tack.” The word tack relates to the direction one turns in sailing. I often see it written or hear it spoken as “tact.”

  • Luke

    It seems that all of you have forgotten why humans have language: to communicate. It really doesn’t matter HOW something is pronounced as long as it’s understood by the listener and speaker.The entire notion of grammatical and vocalic “correctness” is really a redundant one.

    Given the divergence of English into different dialects which will probably end up eventually as different languages its a little unfair for everyone to speak the same way. For example most of the American dialects are rhotic (for non-linguists: they pronounce post-vocalic r’s e.g. /robeRt/ or /loRd/) and Commonwealth English is non-rhotic (we’d say something more like /lod/ or /robet/

    I’m sick to death of my fellow Kiwis feeling like hicks because they feel they don’t speak proper English.Dialectation is a valid part of linguistic evolution: DEAL WITH IT!!!

  • Sadie

    The writer of this article has clearly never studied any form of language study. Sure, some of the words mentioned are frequently pronounced incorrectly and there are definitely some mispronounced words that drive me up the wall (my mother says fustrated, libary, and resterount) but fact of the matter is different areas have different ways of pronouncing different words. Have you ever heard of an accent? The complaint of the word “halloween” was the one of the worst on the list, in my opinion. It’s like saying “aunt” is pronounced ant. Sure, it’s pronounced “ant” in certain regions but many people say “awnt” it just depends on where you are from.

    This article is calling all sorts of people ignorant, but fact of the matter is the writer of this article is extremely ignorant and elitist. Get over yourself. There are many ways to say many words. The beauty of the English language (any language for that matter) is that it changes and has many different colours. We adopt words from different languages and adapt them to our accents and speech patterns. That’s the way language works!

    Also, to the person who commented on espresso vs expresso. This word also bothers me, and I was insistent on espresso being right, but I live in a predominantly French speaking Province and many people here say expresso, the Italians included. It’s spelled expresso sometimes too.

    Also, think about this. My mom calls gas “gaz” this is due to the fact that although she is an Anglophone, she grew up in Quebec. In Quebecois gas is “gaz” so she was clearly influenced by her surroundings. Most Anglos who grew up in Quebec will say gaz. They also say “close the lights” which sounds pretty strange until you notice that the French way to ask to turn out the lights is the direct translation.

    I guess what I’m saying is that proper pronunciation isn’t so black and white. There is almost no such thing as the right way and the wrong way to say thing. If you disagree you should check into some sociolinguistic studies. Some great sociolinguists include: Labov (can’t remember his first name) and Charles Boberg.
    Please educate yourselves about linguistics before you decide what’s “right” and “wrong” in language. What makes you the authority anyway?

  • Dylan

    I really don’t like the presumption there’s an absolutely correct way to pronounce. As anyone who’s listened to older movies and radio shows will realise, even ‘correct’ pronunciations differ. Those objecting to difference are being, at best, Canute-esque.

    Fortunately, the article defeats itself with its numerous errors, as many have pointed out. Here’s another…

    Only three sounds for CH in English, huh (see chaos)? That forces you to mispronounce words like LOCH, which use a fourth. It’s not spelt LOCK because it’s not pronounced LOCK; it’s correctly pronounced using the CH very similar to the Flemish (not Dutch) CH.

  • Rogier

    How about Aluminum (A-LU-MI-NUM) apposed to Aluminium (A-LU-MI-NI-UM)? Many Americans pronounce this word incorrect. But then again, perhaps the metal is just called that way in the USA.

  • Stephanie

    Working in a Starbucks for the last 2 years has given me some insight into how many people just simply cannot read.

    Its not so much the incorrect way people say drink names as much as it is when people add an “x” to Espresso. Even my co-workers do it.

    Its not eXpresso, its eSpresso.

    That’s it for me…

  • rusty shackleford

    This really bothers you that much? Most people don’t mispronounce most of these words anyways….

    You don’t seem like a fun person to hangout with.

  • Fish

    On nuclear:

    read it before you make any comments about the origins of the word defining the pronunciation of it.

  • Jenny

    When I started reading this, I was like, okay, yeah, I agree with a lot of this… then you started tearing into dialect.

  • Elodie

    Realtor has two syllables. REAL – tor. (REEL-tor)

  • Fink

    Jim,

    Your teacher was probably using a voiceless labiovelar approximant in her pronunciation of these words [ʍ], not an [hw]. If she was Scottish or from the South, this would be genuine. Otherwise, she was likely hypercorrecting a bit.

    Most dialects don’t have [ʍ] in words like when, what, and why (or whip or whale or wheat), and [w] is the sound used in its place. So however your peers talk…that’s ‘correct’.

  • Merrick

    dialects are what make this world unique. sure it might not be ‘proper’ english but dialects what bring diversity to this world.

    cheers

  • Paul

    Hloy crap! Get a grip! I bet you get so hung up on how people talk that you don’t even hear what they say.

  • Passenger

    I was just stumbling bye… I thought I would correct you, by telling you about “ask”. You are complaining about how people pronounce ask. However, “aks” was the latin word, and pronunciation. So, when your telling everyone not to say it that way… Your the mistaken one…

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