Metatalktail Hour: Mispronunciations June 9, 2018 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! In honor of this hilarious thread, I want to know what words you well-read MeFites mispronounced when you first attempted them out loud! What words are you still avoiding? And of course your life updates!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 4:19 PM (242 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Monotonous. You speak in a monotone, so it just made sense it would be pronounced Monotone-us!

I saw Ocean's 8 today (I never see movies opening weekend so this is quite an event for me!) and it was everything I'd hoped for. Big grin on my face.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:21 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I said "paradigm" pretty much how a 5th grader would phonetically in front of my first year college roommates. I'm still embarrassed at 42.
posted by LionIndex at 4:40 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I had always assumed "slavish" was pronounced to rhyme with "lavish" until one day I heard someone say it out loud and I suddenly realized that of course it must be based on "slave" and I had been wrong all those years.

It also took me a long time to realize that "miniseries" was "mini series" and not a word pronounced "min-IZ-er-eez" that meant a long dramatic story.

I avoid "cupola" because every pronunciation sounds wrong. I was pretty sure I actually knew how it was supposed to be pronounced, but I just googled it and it appears I was wrong.

I was shocked by the ribald thread, too. Another one I had wrong.
posted by Redstart at 4:42 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Chaos. It’s been a quarter century and the memory still make me cringe. For several reasons, in several dimensions fractional and otherwise.

I also uncharacterisically went to see Oceans 8 last night.... but there was a power outage and I have yet to see the last 25 (ish?) minutes. That pretty much sums up the week right there.
posted by mce at 4:59 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Despite (probably) having heard "awry" used in conversation, when I saw it in text, it was always pronounced "aw-ree" in my head until I graduated from high school. (I guess I thought it was a completely different idiom.)

The spelling of "gunwale" always throws me off. It's a word I'd only heard and used orally, and then I discovered that "gunnel" was not how that word was spelling.

In France I once asked for something with merguez, which I inexplicably pronounced as "mer-goo-ay", as though it were a conjugated verb, instead of "mer-gez".
posted by invokeuse at 5:02 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Chaos. It’s been a quarter century and the memory still make me cringe. For several reasons, in several dimensions fractional and otherwise.

Yep. I was convinced that there was another word 'kaos' meaning the same thing.
posted by hoyland at 5:02 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, I concluded that in times of existential crisis, the world may face ann-hilly-AY-tion. Everything could be an-HILLY-ay-ted.

I also once referred to SAL-mon St. and my mother has never stopped finding it funny.

I run into this sort of problem constantly as an adult, too, or discover something that Secretariat says differently than I do for learned-from-reading reasons, but something about certain of those childhood editions of it just crystalized in memory in a way I'll take to my grave. With foresight, keeping a lifelong notebook of these would have been a good project.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:03 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Macabre, which I thought rhymed with Maccabee, like Judah. Yeah.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:04 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Lingerie ➔ linger-ee (ee like "we") because I had only read it. I had heard some kind of word for underwear, something like "lawnjeray", but it clearly wasn't this "lingerie" word I had read. I mean, there's no "a" in lingerie, and there's two "a"sounds, so they can't be the same word.

My friend who heard me tried to act like he was interested in my unique pronunciation, but his tone gave away his incredulity
posted by Tehhund at 5:05 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Fanzine. I don't give a tuppenny fuck that it's based on magazine, that word rhymes with man-pine.
posted by nushustu at 5:07 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


My inlaws all pronounced caricature cah-RICK-uh-ture instead of CARE-ick-uh-ture. They still do.
posted by nushustu at 5:09 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Lots of reading and no easy way of checking pronunciations pre-modern Internet meant there were a thousand of these for me. I now make a point of looking up pronunciations for any new words I learn.

-"Treaty of Versaylees" (That was an embarrassing one)
-"Debress" (Debris)
posted by Query at 5:10 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


(on preview, the iPod shuffled up Tom Lehrer's "Smut" as I was about to post. Synchronicity!)

We refer to this as putting the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble. Mine was continuity. Something like continue-ity.

I have an interrobang tattoo! Getting a tattoo of your favorite punctuation mark: the most badass and most nerdy way to spend a Friday night.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:11 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


OH man this is fun.

When I was in third grade we were all doing a read-aloud and we kept saying cup board because that's what the book said. None of us had any idea wtf a cup-board was. Our teacher thought we were all screwing with her but finally pointed out that it's pronounced cubbard, which made the entire class go OHHHHHHHH. Everything made so much more sense after that.
posted by nushustu at 5:11 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


The spelling of "gunwale" always throws me off. It's a word I'd only heard and used orally, and then I discovered that "gunnel" was not how that word was spelling.

This is news to me, only reversed--I don't think I've ever heard anyone say it.
posted by hoyland at 5:11 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


I just remembered a few more:

"Interstice" was always IN-ter-stice (rhymes with "ice") to me, not in-TER-stis (rhymes with "this"). Oddly enough I've never had a problem with "interstitial."

I am not at all confident my placement of the stress in "alveoli" and "alveolar". AL-vee-o-li? al-VEE-o-li? Al-vee-O-li? No clue. I've listened to the pronunciation on Merriam-Webster's website many times and it still hasn't imprinted on my brain enough for me to rattle it off without consciously thinking about it.

I note with some sadness that howjsay.com appears to be down - it was my favourite English pronunciation dictionary.
posted by invokeuse at 5:15 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Queue is not pronounced "quay" apparently.
posted by nushustu at 5:15 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I, too, stumbled on miniseries:

It also took me a long time to realize that "miniseries" was "mini series" and not a word pronounced "min-IZ-er-eez" that meant a long dramatic story.
posted by QuakerMel at 5:21 PM on June 9


I have so many of these over the years from being a kid that learned most of their new vocabulary from reading.

Mine is Thames. I thought it was like "thanes" with an M.
posted by Freeze Peach at 5:21 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Until I was in my mid-teens I thought that "misled" was the past tense of "misle" and pronounced it "MIGH-zulled". (I've run into other people who did the same thing.)

For a long time I thought that "quire" was a word for a group of singers that happened to be a synonym of "choir", which I guess I didn't know how to pronounce.

I still smart from the time that as an adult I pronounced the sui in sui generis as "swee" to an educated friend and he doubled over laughing.

I still need mnemonics to remember how to pronounce "trough".
posted by dfan at 5:23 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I was 19 and making conversation at a dinner party and mispronounced “gamut.” Didn’t live that one down for quite some time.

Also, I absolutely cannot pronounce derisive; I always try to say dirsive. Unknown miysteries of the English language plaguing my brain.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:31 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I knew how to say hors d'oeuvres form hearing it said by parental units, but when faced with it spelled out in my first French class I could only come up with horse dee overs.... I still like and say it to myself when I see it on a menue. And I imagine a horse jumping over a big fence.

Recently I've been enjoying lunches that I call "bat wrap" cause the name is fun: bacon, arugula, & tomato on a wrap. The arugula is so much better than lettuce and the wrap keeps the arugula from skittering about and escaping.
posted by mightshould at 5:32 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]

Queue is not pronounced "quay" apparently.
And "quay" is also not pronounced "quay." At least, it's not pronounced the way that I expect "quay" to be pronounced. I sounded like a big, dumb American for weeks before I realized you say "key."
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:48 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Mine is route-er vs roote-er, and gif vs jif. Those things. What gets me worse is the US/mostly-the-rest-of-the-world english things which I seem to slide back and forth through depending on what suits my ear at the time. Like 'hospital' vs 'the hospital' or sked-ule vs sched-ule. It's awkward when I visit home in the Appalachian mountains and it takes two days for everybody to stop having to say "say that again", then I return and spend another two days before people have to stop saying "say that again" to me. This happened to a lesser degree growing up. A new teacher refused to believe I wasn't a recent transfer because I talked like a yankee. I blame too much PBS and reading encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun.

My aborted vandalism turned out just as expected. Old broken beyond repair thing was replaced with shiny new thing. It had been broken for years and nobody really cared that much. It took some new tenant (well, trying to hack it "in the most wrong way") to get me thinking about it. There were a good half a dozen ways, the wildest involved drawing a picture in the style of a middle-schooler in crayon/gel-pen with glitter demonstrating how to avoid the problem in a way understandable to tenants and visitors alike. Or to just sneak out, take the damned thing off (eight screews, I have power tools) and toss it in a dumpster somewhere. Pretty much everythng was too much effort vs the "meh, just wait.".

This week is pretty bland. I had like a summer flu a couple of weeks ago and lost about 8 pounds or so over a few days. I'm mostly trying to climb on that thing and loose another 8-ish. That would put me back into that stack of jeans in the closet that I haven't worn in years.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:50 PM on June 9


hors d'oeuvres

When we were kids, this was pronounced either "whores de ovaries" (courtesy of one of my dad's Navy buddies) or "horse doovers" (meant to distract us from the first, only mildly successful).
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:52 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I went oops 'loose' vs 'lose' but then went... I want them freed and never to return so....
posted by zengargoyle at 5:54 PM on June 9


"I still smart from the time that as an adult I pronounced the sui in sui generis as "swee" to an educated friend and he doubled over laughing."

After going to law school in the South, where pronunciations of voir dire are radically different than in the North (where I grew up and now live), someone once asked me how to pronounce voir dire and I said, "I pronounce it jury selection." I would frankly rather die than attempt it in front of other lawyers. :D

I taught philosophy at a community college for five years, and a LOT of my students were first-in-family to go to college, so even things like "Socrates" could be a mystery, and when we got into the weeds with Greek names for bit parts in the dialogues, or dealt with guys like Descartes or Sartre or Kant, people would freeze up for fear of pronouncing the names wrong. I had a whole little speech after a while, where the first time it happened, I'd say, "Look, mispronouncing words that you've only seen in print is a sign of being well-read and self-educated, and those are both admirable things, and nobody's going to make fun of you in my classroom for not knowing how to pronounce a name or a term. And you're getting them from me in my very particular Chicago accent and I strongly suggest you don't take my pronunciation of Sartre as authoritative because it's wrong and I can hear it's wrong but I can't make the right sound, but everyone knows what I'm talking about, and that's the important thing. I'll correct your pronunciations just because I'm the teacher and that my job, but it's not something we give a rat's ass about in this classroom as long as we know who you mean. It happens to literally every smart person who reads a lot and self-educates, and sometimes it's funny and people laugh and that's fine, but anyone who's a jerk about it is a snob, and not as well-educated as they think, or they'd have sympathy for you because they've done the same."

I had so many really bright students with low social capital who had a ton of interesting things to say about Plato or utilitarianism but had never had any reason to hear these names or terms out loud before, and I really, really wanted them to internalize that this is a thing that happens to all intelligent and well-read people, and that it's a sign of a motivated learner who has worked hard to self-educate, and 90% of the people you want to impress are in complete sympathy with you because they've done it too. (And the other 10% are jerks.) I mean, after your teenage years. Teenagers like to dunk on everybody.

One semester my students got very interested in a minor character (I forget which one!) in one of Plato's dialogic works, but none of us could pronounce it, and we finally went to google and found an audio file of the name pronounced and played it, and then we all stared at each other in dismay, made several attempts, none of us even got close, and one student said, "Yo, Imma call him A-dog." And A-dog he was for the remainder of the semester. (That student was a parolee -- I had a lot of parolees over the years -- who spent his whole sentence contemplating crime and punishment and retribution and morality, and he came into philosophy expecting to be bored (he was working on a voc tech degree to be more employable), and then he found all these guys who 2500 years ago were thinking what he was thinking and he bloomed like a goddamn sunflower. I don't think grad school was in the cards for him, but I wished it had been -- he had one of the keenest minds I ever taught and would set a philosophy graduate program on fire, and I told him so. If I one day see him profiled in the NYT as a hotshot newly-minted philosopher with an unusual background who got his PhD at 50, I will not be at all surprised.)

"At least, it's not pronounced the way that I expect "quay" to be pronounced. I sounded like a big, dumb American for weeks before I realized you say "key.""

whaaaaaaaaaat. Well, shit.

posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:02 PM on June 9 [62 favorites]


Napoleon was NAP o leen for a long time in elementary school til I heard it pronounced. I'm still awful with French pronunciations, which is why I chose to learn Spanish in high school instead!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 6:05 PM on June 9


Fur-us-ter-a-ted is how I would say frustrated as a kid. I had a pretty big vocabulary for a partially verbal 4 year old- damned if I could say anything correctly though 😝 Also several Greek gods and names I only realized I was pronouncing wrong until last semester’s Myth class.

My surgeon is a low down dirty scoundrel! I mean don’t get me wrong I love him and trust him but he said I’d be walking after my surgery Friday and that was a lie! I’m still laid up with my bandaged ankle on pillows with ice and it hurts like hell. I won’t be walking until at least Monday- maybe even later. But in good news, They took out the whole screw! And it’s green! AND THEY LET ME KEEP IT! I’m so making a necklace out of it! The surgery took all of a half hour and everyone at the surgery center was lovely as always. Don’t get me wrong I hope I see none of them ever again but... well they said my 2nd surgery would be my last, same with number 4 and 6. So let’s hope this is lucky number 7! I’m due for another tramodol soon- but it’s a good pain, the sort of swelly-healing pain that tells you everything’s going all right. It sucks that I know the difference so well. I can’t wait to see what my new scar looks like over all the old scars. But I’m a weirdo like that.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:10 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


I live in fear of ever having to read out the word eiptome. Using it in conversation is fine, but off the page will lead to epi-Tome every time.

hors d'oeuvres

In a similar vein i have intentionally mispronounced canapes as the sum of the English nouns 'can' and 'apes' that I am losing the ability to recognise how it should be pronounced.
posted by biffa at 6:10 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Some time ago, a cousin ended a relationship because his girlfriend of the time pronounced 'scone' in a different way to how he did.

A few weeks after she was dumped, she had a major win on the lottery, leading to her picture in the newspaper. She sent him an expensive-looking package in the post. He got excited. On opening it, there was just a packet of cheap supermarket scones inside.

When I'm in company with this cousin, who I don't like because he was an utter jerk during teen years, if I ever see a scone on a menu or price list I make a point of saying "Huh; scones are really expensive. You'd probably need to win the lottery to order a scone here."

Heck, karma is so fucking sweet sometimes. Almost as sweet as a scone. Or a scone.
posted by Wordshore at 6:13 PM on June 9 [58 favorites]


Ah, that should be epitome. Just missed the window.
posted by biffa at 6:17 PM on June 9


I still have trouble with "misled" even though I know how it's supposed to be pronounced. It's just that the spelling of the word SCREAMS the wrong pronunciation at me and it's hard to disengage that. There are a lot of words like that for me: epitome, hors d'oeuvres, and so on.

I was teaching a class last semester and a student asked me how to pronounce "hegemony," and I literally did not know. I had probably heard it before - but again, I had a spelling-based pronunciation in mind that was much stronger. I said, "probably this way, but let's look it up."

It was kind of embarrassing, because I was wrong, but I hope I played it as normal enough that they didn't think it was embarrassing. That is, Eyebrows McGee is 100% right that this is a problem that people have because they read and it really shouldn't be embarrassing.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:17 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Talked to a coworker with a Russian lit grad degree for days about how I was reading The Gulag Archipelago, which I pronounced Ark-i-pe-LOG-oh before eventually looking it up. We’re both copy editors, and I think she should have told me, though I should have looked it up to begin with.
posted by FencingGal at 6:19 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I have always, and will continue to pronounce the t in often. I'm not sure how I originally got started down that wrong path but hey.

As for today, my workplace (a children's museum) hosted the local LGBTQ community organization's Family Breakfast today, which was delightful. The park where my work is located also had the annual Pride In The Park festival today.
posted by sundrop at 6:25 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Macabre, which I thought rhymed with Maccabee, like Judah. Yeah.

They are etymologically related, though.

For me: Gibraltar, as in rock of. I'm pretty sure the first time I said it aloud it came out something like "gibbril-tar."

Also, on a lark I pronounced the word "stomachache" as "stoma-cocky" a while ago and I'm worried that I may not be able to stop.
posted by gauche at 6:26 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


My favorite one in this space isn't mine, but relayed from a friend talking about her childhood in Oklahoma.

Merci beaucoup pronounced as Mercy Buckets
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 6:26 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Foucault, Foucault, Foucault. It wasn't until I was literally in France that the penny finally dropped. (in my head he is still Michael Foe-caldt and so he will be forevermore.)
posted by btfreek at 6:29 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


All of the best people have some godawful pronunciation story. It means that you learned words by reading them, which is what all the best people do.

Also, "misled." It really should be pronounced "mizzled."
posted by selfmedicating at 6:30 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Oh, dear. I can't remember most specific words offhand that aren't proper nouns, but I definitely have a long and sordid history of putting the stress on the wrong syllable.

Proper nouns and names: I only found out that I was improperly frow-ing instead of froo-ing the Victorian historian J. A. Froude while delivering a conference paper, which is not perhaps the best time to make such discoveries. And provided great entertainment for a friend when I pronounced the name of the resort town Skaneateles (skaneeatlas) as "skaneetles." (Fortunately, right after I moved here one of my colleagues explained how to pronounce the local shibboleth, Chili ["chyly"].)
posted by thomas j wise at 6:33 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Mine is "inchoate". I've never been sure how to sound it out. It's not a word you run into a lot, and I don't know if I've ever heard it said aloud. Don't have a lot of need for it day-to-day, so I figure I can fake it until I break it.

I also remember pronouncing the "w" in "whorehouse" upon my first introduction to the word as a teenager.
posted by briank at 6:41 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Another in the "misled" as past-tense of "to misle." That's the one that stuck around the longest.

My father has always been really bad at this, though he mainly sticks in extra letters. I don't remember all of his, but at one point he called someone a "crumdrugeon," which was how he had been saying "curmudgeon" in his head, and I have preferred his version ever since.

I spent the afternoon hiking 10.6 miles with a 1658-foot elevation gain and I am tired and sore and HANGRY right now. Nice thing is that the state park waived their normal $10 entrance fee because it's "Get Outside Day" or something and a local winery sponsored everyone's admission today, which I didn't know until I got there. Work re-organization has turned into a giant mess and we had so many clients in crisis this week and there was a local fire that triggered some of my PTSD from the October wildfires, and overall, I have not had a good week. I have pasta sauce cooking right now and am looking forward to CARBS.
posted by lazuli at 6:42 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


(I missed the edit window)To explain, how you pronounce 'scone' often betrays your social class in England, though it can also sometimes indicate where you are from. Whereas knowing, or not knowing, the differences between a crumpet, a muffin and a scone merely betray your level of intelligence and knowledge.

Anyway, I'm originally from Worcestershire which often adds a layer of complexity when it comes to pronunciation.
posted by Wordshore at 6:45 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


I was well into my 30s before I realized the word I'd been reading as "anna-hill-ate" was the same word as annihilate. I knew there was a word pronounced annihilate, I knew what it meant, and I knew that the context in which anna-hill-ate was used tended to be in situations where something was annihilated, but I never quite made the connection.

The weird thing is even though I now know they're the same word, I usually have to read anna-hill-ate twice before I pronounce it correctly in my head.

What really surprises me though is just how many of you pronounce Mefite incorrectly.

In life updates, Anthony Bourdain's death is really bumming be out. I'm usually somewhat indifferent when celebrities pass but this one hit me hard. He was one of my few heroes. By all accounts he was a genuinely decent person and it just seemed like he had the perfect life, but of course you never know what someone is living with. I've been following him since Kitchen Confidential and he really grew a lot since then. It was nice to see someone essentially grow up and grow into themselves. He taught us more about the world than just about anyone else. He will be missed.

In other news... I made a napkin ring today. Out of maple and walnut. I'm trying to take a break from guitar building for a bit and just do some small woodworking projects since I really haven't actually done much in the way of regular woodworking. So I'm making some took racks out of scrap wood along with some other miscellaneous things. I'm also hoping to build myself a nice woodworker's bench at some point in the near future. I see it as kind of like Luke building a lightsaber to complete his Jedi training. Just something I gotta do.
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Oh, thought of another one I deal with often: My work team is responsible for clients who live in the county but outside the county seat and immediate environs, or, you know, the outlying areas. My current boss, who is brilliant in so many ways but not book smart, calls them "the outlining areas." In meetings, in presentations, at community events, etc. I have offered in the past to correct her spelling, grammar, pronunciation, etc., and she generally declines with the self-aware explanation that if all that were correct, people would know she hadn't written the thing herself, so I leave it.

For a while we were talking about having a shared manager's/supervisors's office in one of our clinics, which I called "the command center" and she thereafter called "the commando center," even after I explained the colloquial use of "commando."

She's retiring, and I'm going to miss her.
posted by lazuli at 6:47 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Too damn many to even count since I read a lot as a child and had a large (mispronounced) vocabulary. I experienced the inverse not too long ago, though... I'd heard the French greeting "awn-shawn-tay" on TV and in movies my whole life, but never knowingly seen it in writing. I was reading a novel a while ago and finally realized its "enchanted"! Mind blown. Then I felt like a complete dope.

In a somewhat similar vein, I completely freaked out my husband when he heard me explain to our kids that W is pronounced double-you i.e. double-U which also describes how the letter is written. I could practically see his brain rewiring itself.
posted by gatorae at 6:55 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


On a related note I just stumbled upon this audio clip of Griffin McElroy reacting to his wife Rachel making one of these mispronunciations (I won't spoil what) and it is delightful.
posted by btfreek at 7:01 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Age 14, on a local house tour of mission style homes, I frequently proclaimed my love of Missionary Style.
posted by mochapickle at 7:09 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Oh yeah. Hors d'oeuvres was pronounced like "horse divorce" in my mind, and orderves (spoken) meant the same thing but it was a different word.

I keenly remember getting up in front of my third grade class and reciting a passage in which I said "It was chaos. Total chaos." Of course I pronounced it "chah-ohs", both times. I knew what kay-oss was, and I knew what the written word "chaos" was, but they were two different words that meant the same thing.

I also had a teacher whose first name was Geraldine, which I pronounced "Girdle-eyen".
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:12 PM on June 9


"Beat-rice" seemed like a funny thing to name a daughter, so I was relieved when my friend corrected me.
posted by peeedro at 7:18 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Hey you damn kids, I didn't have the Internet where dictionary sites will say the word for you. My Dad would make me look things up in the giant Random House Dictionary, when, basically, I just wanted to read. Wreak. Pedantry. Croissant (they were foreign and rare/ unobtainable when I was a kid). Lots of difficult words that I know how to use because reading, but not how to say. Thank you, PBS, for using the whole vocabulary; it helps.

Even in the US, it's a class issue; money and education mean you grow up with words. My Dad was a doctor; I can pronounce a lot of medical terms, and maybe parse the meaning. Grew up knowing the difference between prostate and prostrate.

I was thinking today about désolée, which is French for sorry, but desolate is kind of over the top, in a cool French way. I have some sort of autoimmune illness, and the last couple weeks have been very up and down. Literally, a couple days when leaving the couch wasn't really an option, so the garden has had little attention. But the weather is nice, and yesterday and today I got stuff done, including potting up nasturtium seedlings, planting basil and cilantro seedlings, re-planting parsley. My tomato plants have been not growing; you plant tomatoes deep so they will grow lots of roots, so they seem stuck, but now they are getting a bit taller, encouraging. Anyway, while gardening, my mind wanders, and today it found the word désolée intriguing.
posted by theora55 at 7:23 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I was home from college and at the mall with my mom. I mentioned something about the jewelry kiosk Piercing PaDOga and she said, "The where?" Which is how I realized I'd been mentally pronouncing pagoda wrong.

In the other direction, I brought my high school psych class to a halt by telling the story of my (since unlearned) learned aversion to cwaSONt. You know, the rich flaky French pastries shaped like a sickle moon. CreSANT rolls. Croissant. Oh.
posted by Princess Leopoldine Grassalkovich nee Esterhazy at 7:27 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I’m on a long drive this weekend and listening to a bunch of podcasts and someone is pronouncing “feral” as fear-ull and I literally pulled over on the side of a fucking interstate to check whether I’d just always been saying it wrong, but no, it’s fair-ull everywhere I could find it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:38 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I'm currently trying to decide whether I should pronounce bezier as bez-ee-ur or bez-ee-ay. I'm going to be making some tutorials where I need to say it out loud, and I don't want to sound ignorant by using the former pronunciation or elitist by using the latter. Maybe I should just say buh-zeer.

I never say divisive, I've heard it pronounced with the second i long and short, and I'm not sure which is correct.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:40 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Buh-draggled, not bed-raggled. Although my pronunciation gives just the right impression, as being of some who has just rolled out of bed, I think.

I have had embarrassing trouble with the difference between the pronunciations of ingenué and ingenuous
posted by SLC Mom at 7:47 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I read myself the Boxcar Children books when I started kindergarten and was doing lots of reading to myself with less input from adults. I did not realize that Mrs. McGregor, the housekeeper in the Boxcar Children, was not actually McGigagor until I read the books out loud to my little brother and my mother was horrified.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:51 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I was in the middle of discussing some medication i had just administered and was prattling on, as one does, about how this particular molecule interacts with such and such receptors but also the mu-opioid receptor when the other person, suddenly realizing that I may not be a licensed physician, cut me off and said "hold up hold up; the WHAT opioid receptor?".

I repeated myself.

"Like for cows?"


(I had pronounced it "MOO-opioid")

Also, you ever notice how some people pronounce the word bagle differently? (Im in camp BAY-gull for the record.)
posted by some loser at 7:51 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I read the word "fanatic" in a Snoopy comic (in book format) when I was about seven. I was confident that it was pronounced FAN-a-tic.
posted by puddledork at 8:01 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I loved any horse stories when I was a kid and one of my favourite series was by Norman Thewell. I couldn't find my latest read one day and asked my Dad if he'd seen my Penny Lope book. Man, I loved my Dad's laugh.
posted by Thella at 8:11 PM on June 9


epitome.

Somewhere or other I managed to pick up the correct pronunciation of that one. Years later I saw in catalogs and music stores a brand of guitars called "Epiphone". I thought, by analogy with "epitome", oh what a clever name, clearly it is pronounced as one would "epiphany". No, it's epi-phone, rhyming with telephone. Who knew?
posted by Daily Alice at 8:13 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Grew up knowing the difference between prostate and prostrate.

I'm sure this is an urban legend, but supposedly there was a student who wrote in a story, "She fell down the stairs and lay prostitute on the landing." The professor commented, "My dear sir, you must learn to distinguish between a fallen woman and one who has merely slipped."
posted by Daily Alice at 8:17 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I did Academic Bowl in high school, and one of the questions was something like, "What is a literary device that uses exaggerated claims for effect?" And I buzzed in and answered, "Hyperbole." The questioner looked confused and looked at me and looked at her card and so I quickly clarified, "H-Y-P-E-R-B-O-L-E," because I realized she thought the word on her card was pronounced "hyper-bowl." Which is what my family then called the Superbowl that year.
posted by lazuli at 8:22 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


lol, true story, some of the first words I heard out of my elementary school age new neighbor after moving after a nasty divorce was "your mom's a whore", which I dutifully looked up and came back with "nope, no money involved, whore=prostitute=money.". That was like third grade. (it's all cool, there are plenty of good stories about the new neighbor boys, and plenty of weird ones.)
posted by zengargoyle at 8:29 PM on June 9


Once during a college bowl type quiz I was participating in when I was in Jr. High, the tossup question was "what is the shortest distance between two points in n-dimensional space?"

'Gee-odd-asick!', I shouted.
posted by jamjam at 8:34 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Cacophony, which I first read about related to the Cacophony Society in high school. I was super proud to know what it meant in high school English class, but my teacher laughed when I said "KA-KO-phony."

And I am currently uncertain how to pronounce "data," so I pronounce it both daataa and dAta (terrible fake pronunciation key, sorry linguists).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


For the life of me, I cannot say Kaepernick. My mouth has decided that it sounds like Copernicus and my ears have lost the argument. I can read it correctly and hear it my head the right way, but when I try to say it... nope.

Years of childhood speech therapy cured me of a stutter, except for when I'm really excited or when I try to say the word particularly. There's something about that lar syllable that trips me up and I end up repeating it about 18 times before I can finally spit out the ly. I try to avoid that word. I do not particularly like the word particularly.

It's a long story why, but I say sore-y instead of sorry and aboat instead of about even though I have lived in Rhode Island all my life. I have a Canadian accent from somewhere in Ontario. I just do. Anyway, a group of us were in New Orleans three years ago celebrating the 40th birthdays of my husband and my friend's husband. We were in the back of a packed club, listening to jazz, and decided we wanted a smoke break. I made it outside much faster than everyone else, to the point where my friends asked how I got through the crowd so quick. "You gotta be Canadian," I said. I was informed I was full of shit. But the next time we went outside, my friend, the one who said I was full of shit, said, "You were right! I said sore-y instead of sorry and it was like the Red Sea parted!" (I also got free beads during the five seconds we spent on Bourbon Street because the only money I had in my wallet happened to be the Canadian fiver I always have in there, so after the dude put the beads on me and expected payment, I said, "Sore-y, all I have is this." He moved on.)

In the last class of my Masters program, which I graduated from last April, I had to submit something for publication and show proof to my professor. I never heard back one way or another and had pretty much forgotten about it. The magazine got a new editor in May, and I received an email from her on Tuesday saying that she was clearing out the old submissions queue and that if I had anything new to pitch to contact her directly. So that was pretty validating, considering the last time I submitted something for publication I was 14 and it was my local newspaper.
posted by Ruki at 8:45 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I am still scandalized that "caste" does not rhyme with baste, chaste, haste, paste, taste, and waste.
posted by XMLicious at 8:51 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I was laughed at heartily during rehearsal by the director and her husband (both teachers) when I pronounced 'rhetoric' as reh-TOR-ic instead of RHET-oric. I mean, you don't say RHETorical, do you? Stupid bloody English language.
posted by h00py at 9:09 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I read the word "fanatic" in a Snoopy comic (in book format) when I was about seven. I was confident that it was pronounced FAN-a-tic.

That reminds me of coming across a crazy word in an Archie comic around that same age and not making the connection with the out-loud version of the word, which I did know! I remember the context not being sufficient to clue me in at the time, or maybe I was just doing my usual ADHD skipping over things.

In my defense, the word was laryngitis, which could mean ANYTHING and be pronounced in any of 50 different ways.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:14 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Also, my childhood self would still like to protest that a "quarter hour" should be 25 minutes because a quarter is 25 cents.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:15 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


So so many. Placate so it sounded almost like placid. Colonel and hor d’oeuvres, good luck with those. I mangled the names of like half the Greek pantheon. I think I read about Star Trek after I started watching but before I’d gotten the characters’ names down, and for some period of time thought Patrick Stewart’s character was called Gene Luck Pickered.

Contrarily, I never ran across the misled thing until I was an adult, and now I hear it in my head as “my-zled” even though I’ve never said it that way.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:21 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I always like to mispronounce "pedant," just to see who bites.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:45 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


I'm teaching Year 7 English at the moment, and we're doing Theodore Taylor's novel 'The Cay' next. I've been holding up the novel and saying, "don't forget to be reading The key" and every time I'm quietly corrected by a chime of voices "The kay"

I love the lesson where we look up the pronunciation. They don't believe me right now that it's "The Key".

Mischievous. I say mischeeveeous.

Apparently I've been pronouncing Dr Seus wrong my whole life too.

Rybald was how I said it. There are so many of these that I've only learned by reading and that I get really self-conscious about- I've googled many of the above words to check!
posted by freethefeet at 10:01 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


OK, chaste makes no damn sense. I just looked it up because of what you said, XMLicious, and I guess I've been saying it wrong for some time now because of the notion that it should be like chastity. Chastity is the state of being chaste; they should have the same vowel sound.

Anyway, I know I have at least one spectacularly wrong one from my childhood reading Nancy Drew books that I'm trying to recall, but others include acetaminophen (seems like it should be a long ah-SEE-tah, but it's actually ah-CEH-tah) and, sigh, meme, which I guess is pronounced meem but I swear I read somewhere had an acceptable alternate pronunciation of mem. Also, doctors have a million shibboleths and will look at you sideways if you say N-S-AIDS rather than N-seds for NSAIDS.

I've also definitely been corrected for my pronunciation of a drug before by one doctor, then had another doctor who wasn't as familiar with it look at me sideways when I said it the way the first doctor suggested. With so many new compounds that have to get names all the time, it's a wonder anyone can decide on a coherent pronunciation for a lot of these things. I've started consulting YouTube "how do you pronounce..." videos when I get a new prescription.

By the way, the fact that it's pronunciation and not pronounciation makes no damn sense either.

I knew I loved the play Talley's Folly, well, for many reasons, but definitely when I heard the line, "Oh, forgive me. I don't have a speaking vocabulary. I have a reading vocabulary. I don't talk that much." That's me all over.
posted by limeonaire at 10:41 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Some from my youth of reading a little above my level:

PISH (psyche) (Greek mythology is tough when you're five)
FACK-aid or FAY-cade (façade)
ALL-bite (albeit)

A friend of mine used to go on and on about that classic couple from Egyptian mythology, "Isis and Or-Isis". She moved away before I figured out she was mispronouncing Osiris.

I mispronounced "discursive" for years as "dicursive" before I saw that other s in there.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:50 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I refuse to answer this weeks question because I'm a mush-mouthed muggle who taught themselves to read far too many big words at a very, very young age long before ever hearing them properly spoken, and this all hits far too close to home and further I love you all but you can go climb that tree over there.

So, really, almost all of them, all of the words people mentioning in this thread I have (and often still will) pronounce ridiculously wrong and it's really embarrassing, ok? I write like this but talk like that and the two occasionally converge, but not often.

What's worse is people who get irritated that they feel the need to correct me with very little productive results. "You keep saying it like that." "I'm sorry, but I can't help it." "Still saying it wrong." "Who cares?"

Life updates:

Very tired, but work is good and it is a good tired, and I'm getting into a groove and my efforts and energy are paying off and spreading.

Lately I've enjoyed showing off my calendar app and how it goes from a few items a month at most to some kind of rainbow-speckled monster with a few items every day in the space of about a week, starting just about two months ago. I have no idea where May went and I'm almost halfway through June.

Because, no, really, it's increasingly goofy and like playing Tetris with bits of time.

I have yet to miss a single appointment. I don't just not miss appointments, I show up early to get other work done before anyone else shows up and turns my corner of the office into too many people and chaos.

I don't only not miss appointments, I'm also hitting all kinds of impromptu meetings and/or ad hoc, last minute work like doing unscheduled on the spot training just because we're both there and available.

Super fun calendar anecdote: I have a therapy appointment next week that was scheduled over four months ago.

As of a few days ago I also have a planning/orientation meeting for a Pride month event scheduled the same day, just 30 minutes after my therapy appointment should be done.

Panic time? Mad dash on the crosstown bus? Cancel one? Why, no.

The meeting for the orientation is also at the hospital in one of their meeting rooms, right across the street from therapy.

Well, ok, then, that's just fine. I get to go into this planning meeting for our local Pride fest thing all hyped up from visiting with my cool therapist about my trans stuff. (Still not sure I'm not dead and/or living in my personal Truman Show over here, like how does this even happen and why am I so fucking lucky like this all the time?)

Increasingly my calendar looks like that pretty much full time and it's not just doable but FUCKING AWESOME and I love it, so yay.

Also, very tired. Sleep. Early day, on a Sunday. I think the last chill day I had was 10 days ago, and even that was a part time day.

Errr, this wasn't what I planned for this summer but this kind of dynamic goal-shifting-and-yet-achieving has been about the only consistent thing in my life in the last few months, and it's very dynamic and exciting.

Hugs to all.
posted by loquacious at 10:57 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Also, somebody stop me I'm about to eat TWO Twinkies. Actual Twinkies. In spite of the fact I have Theo Chocolate and apples... I'm going to eat the Twinkies.
posted by loquacious at 11:00 PM on June 9


I am bowled over by "quay", which I didn't know about until this thread. It's like a joke about spelling in English—according to this in Middle English it was originally spelled key, keye, or caye and was changed due to influence of the French quai.

So we kept the original pronunciation while totally fucking up the spelling in a way so that neither French nor English speakers unfamiliar with the word could guess how to pronounce it. (I think I actually learned the word originally in the course of French lessons about asking for directions during rail travel—because in French it also refers to a platform at a train station—and just never found out that "quay" wasn't a conventional Anglicization.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I moved into a new flat and started a new job in January, with both located in buildings that have ‘quay’ in their names. This American learned very quickly how to avoid embarrassment. Now I help my visiting American friends not suffer this same horrific fate.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:17 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


British vs American pronunciation of ‘filet’ still gets me every time. I try to stick to the British one here because the American pronunciation brings giggles, but sometimes forget.

I am tortured by the word ‘tomato’ and try to avoid it. I’ve lived in the UK for 8 years now. My accent is still very American but some things shift ever so slightly in certain contexts. The vowels in tomato as well as the middle t are subject to that, but I can’t do it correctly. The full American pronunciation of that word no longer sounds natural for me (with a d in the middle). Basically, I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth when I say tomato but it’s going to be floating in an ocean of wrong.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:23 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


When I was about five years old I proudly told my parents that I had a big vocker-BULL-ary.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:36 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


In what part of the US do people put a d in tomato?

I am home alone right now and just said tomato out loud about fifteen different ways. The mister is in Vegas, Kid Ruki is at her grandparents, and they're both going to ask me what I did this weekend. "Oh, you know, this and that, and then I sat in bed at 2:38 in the morning saying tomato out loud to myself in as many different ways as I could think of. The usual."
posted by Ruki at 11:39 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I definitely, here in the U.S. Midwest, somewhat lazily say "tomado"—the second T is just a bit soft, even though it is a T, and so sounds somewhat like a D.

I also say "melk" for "milk," which isn't wrong but rather is kind of a regional thing, like "clowset" for closet.
posted by limeonaire at 11:50 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Growing up I never saw the word "discombobulate" in print, but based on a small sample of comedy and cartoon usages, thought it was "dis-com-BOOB-er-ate". or . It seemed like a great word for me to use, especially in its "boob" mispronounced form.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:09 AM on June 10


This thread doesn't really work for me because all y'all are like "Haha I thought [word] was pronounced [apparently wrong pronunciation], how silly of me!" and I'm like "Okay and it's really pronounced ... what?"

limeonaire, you're saying 'milk' the Dutch way, it's fine. We know our milk here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:52 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I think this came up before, but it was probably in the last 10 years (and I'm in my 50's) that I realized that facade and the written word were the same word. And I realized it when someone asked me what the written word meant. I was trying to think of an answer and finally said "I've never known how to pronounce it, but it's like a facade" when the penny dropped.

I only learned in the last few years from MF that there is no n in pedant. And my mind was blown. Somehow I never noticed.
posted by bongo_x at 1:13 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


For longer than I care to admit, I thought "orderves" and hors d'oeuvres were different things.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 1:30 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Banal. Guess what I thought it rhymed with. Go on, I bet you can't guess.

I still hold my pronounciation better captures its meaning. Which is a segue into how I refused to accept for 30 minutes that segue was the same word as "Segway". I thought it was "seeg", because the double ee joined things up like the word did.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 2:07 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Something every non-native-english-speaking presenter-of-scholarly-stuff seems to be having to do at least once is to mis-pronounce decades like decayed-s. I assure you that in a presentation of historical content, there occur a lot of decayed-s. Interesting to watch your audience cringe at every single one of them without really knowing what's going on.

[I remember a time when I thought that the French car Peu-Ge-Ot, and Peugeot [Puh-joh] were two different brands].

[Also, on the Swedish radio not very long ago, someone announced that famous bit from Handel's Messiah as "His Joke Was Easy".]
posted by Namlit at 2:08 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


When I was a fake Methodist in Catholic school, I smugly corrected someone, "It's CAV-alry."

Also, scapulas are SCAL-pulas, I can't pronounce either kind right, not even now in my head. However, I have no sympathy for "bolth"-sayers or "did-nint"-ers.

ALL-bite (albeit)

I thought it was either all-BITE or all-BAYT, and so I would aim somewhere in between them and it sounded like a fancy foreign word. I remember exactly where I was when I heard someone say, "Blah blah blah, all be it a blah blah," and it clicked.

Oh I just remembered in 5th grade when I was first exposed to an old bibliography I thought maybe there was an ancient person named Ibid who knew everything!
posted by fleacircus at 2:40 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


When I read "banal" I pronounced it internally as BAYnull. It wasn't until university that I heard it pronounced. Garry Winogrand stated that my photograph was buhNAAL. It took me a minute before I understood what word he was saying. He went on to say that it was a dumb photograph—but that was a good thing. I felt ten kinds of stupid and rarely opened my mouth again all semester.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:19 AM on June 10


I thought beelzebub was pronounced beezle-bub the first time I tried to say it out loud, that's the most notable one I can remember.

I had the dual misfortunes as a kid of reading a lot of things with a lot of words that were way more advanced than anything anyone was saying out loud to me, and of having parents who thought it was the funniest thing in the world to cruelly taunt their children for mispronouncing words (cruel taunting and physical violence were pretty much their only techniques for teaching their kids anything; turns out this is a bad idea, who knew?).

They also thought it was incredibly funny to mispronounce words on purpose and convince me that that was how they were meant to be pronounced in public. I rarely fell for it over the age of six or so, but I'm now nearly 30 and I still get severe anxiety about saying words out loud when I'm not 100% certain of the pronunciation!

Medication and disease names are some of the worst for this - I swear half the reason I put off getting treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa for nearly 15 years was because I was so ashamed that I didn't know where the stress in "hidradenitis" was meant to go and couldn't bring myself to say it out loud to a doctor.

Another fun episode of Raised By Monsters. Feels like whoever is thinking up these questions lately is reading from a transcript of all of my childhood shame. I assume next week will be "what do you hate most about your body and why" or maybe "why do you flinch and freeze up any time anyone is even slightly angry nearby".

To end on a less bitter note, I went to a Thai restaurant this week and received the king of carrot flowers with my corn fritters, it was incredibly impressive and the food was delicious. Also it was my dude's birthday this week and we had a nice picnic on one of the largest water meadows in England. It's such a fancy meadow that it has five-star reviews on Google Maps, including one from a guy who has never actually visited it but thinks it looks great anyway.
posted by terretu at 3:39 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


In the life updates department: I just found my old Leatherman Wave under the couch. This is surprising because I lost the thing eight years and a move ago, and the couch has been standing vertically on a pallet for most of those years.

I'm amazed but also chuffed because it turns out that I did not after all stupidly leave it behind somewhere, and also because it's in good shape and now I have a spare Leatherman!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:50 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


When one of my brothers was about 12 and in a major know-it-all phase, he decided the hill he was going to die on was that subtle was pronounced SUB-till (as opposed to suttle), which led to the entire family arguing about it with him at the dinner table and finally my mother (who'd had a long week) shouting "IT'S SUBTLE -- THE B IS SUBTLE."

This is now our family shorthand for mispronunciations. If you pronounce something wrong and someone offers the proper way, you say, "Thanks -- subtle the b is subtle," to acknowledge your humorous mispronunciation. (It's very Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.)

I had one just the other day where I suddenly realized a written and spoken word were the same, it was like five letters, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. (Maybe someone will say it here and jog my memory.)

Guys I'm starting to think English orthography has a few problems. (This thread needs more foreign language examples because I'm becoming convinced it's only English speakers who can't pronounce their own language.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:01 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


After college I interned for a summer at Pixar. I should have put this in the first jobs thread, except I only thought of it now because the renderer team people liked to say "we put the B in subtle!"
posted by moonmilk at 4:09 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Mine was ethereal, and I pronounced it eth-uh-real. I think I encountered it in A Wrinkle in Time and just thought it sounded cool. Fortunately, my dad gently corrected my pronunciation and shared his from childhood: infrared pronounced in-frayr-d.
posted by Mouse Army at 4:27 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


“This is so my thread,” I say to myself as I clicked through.
*reads thread*
Harold J. Christ, I can’t pronounce anything. I’d take a vow of silence out of shame, but I have two kids, so not gonna happen.

(This thread needs more foreign language examples because I'm becoming convinced it's only English speakers who can't pronounce their own language.)

Maybe the bilingualism throws a wrench in things, but my 5yo instead of pronouncing the Italian X as “eeks” says “eesk” and “oosp” instead of “oops.” We’ll see what happens when she starts reading more.
posted by romakimmy at 5:10 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Aspartame. I thought all the warnings on the pop cans was for something called 'ass-PAR-ta-may.
posted by Fig at 5:36 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I thought sponge rhymed with bong. I also always read moped (the vehicle) like moped (past tense of mope). Also namesake like a Japanese city.
posted by starfishprime at 5:47 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I thought things related but shooting off in a different direction were tan genitally related. As in lots of sun and full of genitals. Instead of related to a line touching the circumference of a circle.
posted by chasles at 5:59 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


So are the animators The Brothers [kee] or The Brothers [kway]?

I also have trouble with tinnitus because I have it, but also because people keep saying it tinn-uh-tus but I think it should be tin-eye-tus. I keep forgetting to look it up.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:22 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


En-New-I
posted by dobbs at 6:33 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Aspartame and misled, definitely, but the one that really kills me, because I was an adult when I read it (and therefore mispronounced it) is Hermione.
posted by okayokayigive at 6:51 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I love threads like this.

Bedraggled = BEE (or BEH) draggled
not
bedraggled = BED raggled

I had to look it up too, because it still looks weird.

I thought one got raggled in bed, like an unmade bed kind of thing?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:53 AM on June 10


After going to law school in the South, where pronunciations of voir dire are radically different than in the North

I grew up in the south to midwestern parents, and one of my foundational memories of Georgia happened in first grade at a classmate's birthday party. It was prince and princesses themed (this was before the Disney takeover, so it meant a lot of frilly dresses and those pointy cone hats--nice, generic princesses) and they had a family friend at the party doing face paint on the kids.

I sit down to get my face painted. What I wanted was a gold crown, since it was a prince and princess party and I wanted to keep it thematic, but I noticed there was no gold paint. Trying to simplify things and avoid the I'm sorry there's no gold conversation, I said "I would like a yellow crown, please." "Really?" she said. "Yes." After a while she finishes and holds up a mirror so I can see my face, and there on my cheek is a perfectly, beautifully rendered yellow CRAYON. And burst out crying. The lady who painted my face panicked, as you do when a 6 year old bursts into tears for no reason in front of you, and my mom came and whisked me away to the bathroom to find out what had happened. I explained: I asked for a yellow crown and I got a yellow CRAYON. My mom said she had noticed I was getting a really nice Crayola painted on my face from across the kitchen and that she thought that was weird, but knew that I always asked pretty clearly for what I wanted so I must have had a reason for it.

Anyway I'm sure you've all figured it out by now, but in the south they say crayon as crown. My mom took me back out and explained what happened. There was some laughter among the parents about what a little yankee I was and I got cleaned up and had a nice yellow CROWN painted on my cheek instead.

But it was really good for me for teaching me early on that I couldn't trust anything that ever came out of any of the mouths I knew socially, so I always had a dictionary handy. Every time while reading that I came to a word I hadn't already been taught, I looked it up to find the correct pronunciation and meaning. I remember looking up quay. I remember looking up segue. I remember looking up epitome. The dictionary just lived by my bed for 12 years. (I still do it now with my kindle, god I love the press to dictionary feature of the kindle.) So I had a pretty easy go of word pronunciation in life.


Of course, then I got to college and got IMMEDIATELY made fun of for how I pronounced something...

My dad grew up absolutely dirt poor, and his only access to music was at his library where he could go and listen to classical records. He preferred Mozart and Vivaldi, and we listened to them a lot in the house growing up. (My mom and her family have always been into whatever's popular, never really reaching back more than a couple decades. This is relevant.)

Literally my first week of college and classical music comes up in a friend conversation, and I mention that I've never really cared for Mozart. "WHAT??!" these incredulous assholes exclaim, "WHOOOO?!!!?" "Moes-art," I say, "...Wolfgang Amadeus...?" thinking surely it's not possible they don't know who Mozart is. Well apparently it's Moat-zart. Who knew.

My dad learned who Mozart was by reading music selections at a library and had no one in his life who knew better or cared. I think my mom's closest brush with classical music is that scene in Bill and Ted where they meet Beethoven. And I certainly didn't have any peers in Georgia who were into the guy. So I learned from my dad and my dad says Moes-art. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I still don't like him.
posted by phunniemee at 7:00 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


compromise as com-promise.

apparently my dad did the same when he was a kid.
posted by emmling at 7:15 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


So are the animators The Brothers [kee] or The Brothers [kway]?

I'm like 99% that it's [kway].

I also have trouble with tinnitus because I have it, but also because people keep saying it tinn-uh-tus but I think it should be tin-eye-tus. I keep forgetting to look it up.

Both are legit. I only know this because the band I'm playing in has a song titled that and the writer pronounced it TINN-uh-tuss which led to a mild argument (half of us, including myself, were in the tin-EYE-tus camp) about it until we all remembered that we had these portable computer thingies in our pockets and we could look it up.


Maybe not so much a MIS-pronunciation, because it's apparently actually a real thing, but there was great consternation and a few arguments when our high school AP Literature teacher kept insisting that "Juan" in Lord Byron's "Don Juan" poem was pronounced "JOO-ahn". This was in South Florida, where the Hispanic pronunciation of "Juan" is not exactly unfamiliar.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:17 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


My family moved to Georgia when I was in 7th grade, and I don't know if this is still the standard local pronunciation, but it took us all a while to realize that the street in Atlanta named Ponce de Leon Avenue and the one the newscasters/traffic people called pahnz-de-LEEEE-ahn were the same street.
posted by lazuli at 7:30 AM on June 10


It is, and also I think you mean Adlanna.
posted by phunniemee at 7:53 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


It is, and also I think you mean Adlanna.

Heh, that's one of my code-switches when I'm talking to people from the South.
posted by lazuli at 7:59 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


chelation: thought it was pronounced phonetically, CHELL ay shun. blew my mind to find out it's KEY-LAY-SHUN.

Vale Tudo. yeah it's not pronounced like "veil" , but vallet. (vall-ay).

Ciabatta - I still have a hard time with this, so I'll just buy some other Italian bread that I can pronounce.

Bilbo Baggins: my brain refused to sound it out properly so for a couple of years after first reading the Hobbit i was referring to "Biblo" baggins, like a total dork. Frodo was easy enough tho.

I found out recently that someone I've known socially for several years now has been missing for three weeks. Looked up the statistics and it seems likely she's not gonna be found alive. So that kind of sucks. She had kids who she loved. It's kind of tragic. I didn't see this coming. She had a lot more going for her that I do. I dunno. I hope she's ok but it seems unlikely.
posted by some loser at 8:12 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Tinnitus is another thing I can never ask a doctor about due to pronunciation anxiety, thanks for the reminder.

As a bookish kid growing up in the UK, French-looking US place names were another source of fear and confusion. I was semi-convinced around the age of eight or nine that Illinois must be pronounced Illi-nwah, because it looks French, right? But even at that age I also knew not to trust Americans to pronounce French correctly (sorry I'm sure some of you must be able to). Boy am I glad I never said Illinwah out loud.

I still don't think I've ever heard anyone say Des Moines out loud, so that one's still a mystery in spite of reading a ton of Bill Bryson as a kid. Terre Haute blew my mind when I first heard a US person say it. And let's not even get started on the way you guys say Notre Dame...
posted by terretu at 8:30 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]

I still don't think I've ever heard anyone say Des Moines out loud, so that one's still a mystery in spite of reading a ton of Bill Bryson as a kid
Duh Moyne. US place names are kind of arbitrary: some of the French ones are pronounced Frenchily, and some of them aren't. There's no way to know other than to ask.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:33 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


My sister still thinks “segue” rhymes with “league.” I had a college professor who said “contagion” as “con-ta-GUY-on,” and it was a biology class.

My cheeks still burn when I recall my own “pronounced ‘debacle’ similarly to ‘spectacle’” debacle.
posted by armeowda at 9:12 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


"En-New-I"

Heh. Vivid memory of being super burned out studying in high school, my mom asking what was wrong, and I sighed heavily and said, "I think I'm just suffering from en-you-eye." "On-wee, dear. It's French." "OHHHHHHHH."

"Duh Moyne. US place names are kind of arbitrary: some of the French ones are pronounced Frenchily, and some of them aren't. There's no way to know other than to ask."

Yeah, and even other Americans don't know unless they're from the area (or it's a major city). Des Moines is duh moyne, but Des Plaines, one state over, is dez planes. It drives my husband, who's not from the Midwest, absolutely batshit. And of course it's Detroit (deh-troyt) but they make Chevrolet (shev-ro-lay). There are 5 US towns named Chillicothe, and when I moved near one I had to ask, I was completely stumped. (It's chill-a-COTH-ee. Google Maps says "Chilly-coath." I feel its pain.) But yeah, in the US Midwest, town names are highly likely to come from semi-literate Irish-German immigrants attempting to pronounce Anglicized versions of Francophone spellings of Algoquinian place names.

When Obama was elected and the world media came to Chicago, one of my favorite parts was hearing all the ways the world pronounces "Chicago," it was super-duper charming to hear my favorite city said so many different ways, in so many accents and with so many pronunciations!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:18 AM on June 10 [13 favorites]


When I was a kid there was a Dairy Queen Brazier not far from our house, which, despite my mother's attempts as correction, I pronounced exactly the same as brassiere, a word I had no idea existed. I mean, I knew what a bra was, sort of, and that they were embarrassing and ought not to be mentioned publicly. On the other hand, Brazier clearly ought to be pronounced bra-zeer, and so it was in my frequent requests that we stop there for a root beer float.
posted by Kat Allison at 9:20 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I used to think that paradigm was pronounced something like puh-RA-dig-um. Also that chagrin was CHA-grin.

I would also like to note, apropos of nothing, that the past tense of “to lead” is “led,” not “lead.” This has been a public service announcement.
posted by holborne at 9:30 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


> "Look, mispronouncing words that you've only seen in print is a sign of being well-read and self-educated, and those are both admirable things, and nobody's going to make fun of you in my classroom for not knowing how to pronounce a name or a term. And you're getting them from me in my very particular Chicago accent and I strongly suggest you don't take my pronunciation of Sartre as authoritative because it's wrong and I can hear it's wrong but I can't make the right sound, but everyone knows what I'm talking about, and that's the important thing. I'll correct your pronunciations just because I'm the teacher and that my job, but it's not something we give a rat's ass about in this classroom as long as we know who you mean. It happens to literally every smart person who reads a lot and self-educates, and sometimes it's funny and people laugh and that's fine, but anyone who's a jerk about it is a snob, and not as well-educated as they think, or they'd have sympathy for you because they've done the same."

You are a good teacher and your students are lucky. I couldn't have put it as well as that.

> They are etymologically related, though.

Well, I'll be damned. If I knew that at some point, I'd forgotten.

> at one point he called someone a "crumdrugeon," which was how he had been saying "curmudgeon" in his head, and I have preferred his version ever since.

That is maybe the best I've ever run into, and I will try to adopt it myself.

> I’m on a long drive this weekend and listening to a bunch of podcasts and someone is pronouncing “feral” as fear-ull and I literally pulled over on the side of a fucking interstate to check whether I’d just always been saying it wrong, but no, it’s fair-ull everywhere I could find it.

Sorry, I'm afraid FEAR-ul is the standard pronunciation, though the other is common enough and certainly not "wrong." See, e.g., Merriam-Webster.

> So we kept the original pronunciation while totally fucking up the spelling in a way so that neither French nor English speakers unfamiliar with the word could guess how to pronounce it.

We did the same with colonel!

> When I read "banal" I pronounced it internally as BAYnull. It wasn't until university that I heard it pronounced. Garry Winogrand stated that my photograph was buhNAAL.

Both are perfectly OK! There are lots of examples in this thread of wrong pronunciations, but that's not one of them. (I say BAYnull and used to find buhNAAL pretentious, but I've gotten used to it.)

> This thread needs more foreign language examples because I'm becoming convinced it's only English speakers who can't pronounce their own language.

I run into this in Russian, whose spelling system is better than English (the lowest of bars!) but far from perfect. I remember when I learned that Гомер [Gomer] 'Homer' was pronounced with an unpalatalized м, as if it was spelled Гомэр. Fortunately, I learned this in time not to make an ass of myself when reading a Mandelstam poem for an online lit mag.
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


My most embarrassing (public) mispronunciation happened in grade seven sex ed class. I went to ask a question about menstruation and out of my mouth pops masturbation. You can guess how long it took for me to live that one down. Answer: If I hadn't left (and refused ever to go back), it would still be a thing. Like someone I'd gone to grade school with brought it up when we ran into each other in our twenties.

I still can't pronounce malapropism or anecdotal or Nietzsche.

Mostly, though, this thread reminds me a lot about the class anxiety I had in my first couple of years of university.
posted by platitudipus at 9:59 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I learned recently that while my best friend and I refer to the noise made by loud kids as a fracas, pronounced fʁaka, we are apparently the only people in the Boston area who do this and everyone else says fray-kuss.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:29 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Got to NYU as a 17 year old from a small town in Florida, walked down to Mamoun's and loudly ordered a "FAAL-uh-FELL."
posted by saladin at 10:47 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Got to NYU as a 17 year old from a small town in Florida, walked down to Mamoun's and loudly ordered a "FAAL-uh-FELL."

Although she pretends otherwise, this was the top reason Thing 2 went to NYU.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:17 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Ennui. En-you-eye. Much embarrassment was had.
posted by Splunge at 11:25 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Reading this thread left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I've made these mistakes! On the other hand--I've made so many of them.

I'm in my thirties and learned just a few months ago "ennui" is not "en-you-eye" (like splurge).

Until my early twenties I pronounced "psuedo" as "sway-doh" (rhymes with play-doh), because I got the silent "p" correct but not the rest of it, I guess.

It also wasn't until my mid-twenties that I realized I'd been misreading "hors d'oeuvres". I thought it was pronounced "whores de vores" and wondered if I'd ever encounter such a fancy food in real life. Meanwhile, I knew that plates of little snacks were pronounced "or-durves", but assumed the spelling was something like "h'orderves". It did not occur to me that my "h'orderves" and "whores de vores" were actually the same thing.
posted by schroedinger at 11:40 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


n-New-I
Ennui. En-you-eye.

Oh yeah. Another case of synonyms, in my mind.
Had no idea they were the same word until my 40's.
posted by bongo_x at 11:58 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I had to read something out loud in a language arts class in high school. I was half asleep and on auto pilot, and when the passage talked about Yosemite National Park, I just automatically pronounced it Yo-semite, even though I knew how it was pronounced. The teacher had a hard time getting the class back in order and never asked me to read anything again, and I’m STILL embarrassed about it twenty years later.
posted by skycrashesdown at 12:19 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


When I was just talking, I used to say miss-LED, but when I saw "misled" in print I heard MY-zled in my head as if it were a different word, which I supposed I must have believed it was, though in context I knew they had to be essentially the same word. And I had no idea until now about "fracas" -- I'm sure I learned FRACK-us from someone like Bugs Bunny, because it wasn't a word we used at home.

But I think I got away with those errors. I don't recall anyone ever catching me out on them. Whereas times I still remember being embarrassed over my pronunciation:
  • I pronounced "primer" (as in school books) like primmer because that's the way I learned it, maybe the way my mother said it. I knew "primer" rhymed with "rhymer" when you were talking about paint, but I thought the book was a primmer. Someone mocked me for it -- "I'm surprised at you!" -- and made me feel bad in front of others.
  • I said "lawn fete" so "fete" rhymed with "fate" because I'm sure that's how they said it where I learned the term (Western New York) but some Harvard boy looked at me as if I was from Mars and told me, if I'm remembering correctly, that "they say fet where I come from" (which I'm sure was a lot closer to Brookline than to Paris, but whatever). So he managed to make me feel like a rube at a lunch table full of persnickety Boston editors who all had their ears cocked.
posted by pracowity at 12:36 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


The first time I tried to refer to King Nebuchadnezzar, I said "neh-BOOCH-hed-NAY-zar."

I was in seminary. Hilarity ensued.
posted by 4ster at 12:39 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I just automatically pronounced it Yo-semite

I thank Yosemite Sam for guiding me safely past that hazard.
posted by pracowity at 12:47 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Like Tehhund, I too referred to linger-ee. While I think I've moved on from a lot of my mispronunciations, I seem to have picked up others' along the way. As a wee youth, my sister once happily admired the rhodondedrons, and now I can't help referring to the one outside my window that way (or sometimes as a rhodondedrondo). Also, I heard of someone pronouncing chamomile cha-mo-mi-lay so I am probably going to order some that way at some point. Words are great!
posted by ferret branca at 1:05 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


When I moved to the PNW from Wisconsin I had to adjust to the pronunciations. Took me forever to not make Issaquah rhyme with Minocqua. Fortunately I was warned in advance and never made the mistake of rhyming Oregon with Oregon. As a college freshman at a friends house for Thanksgiving I did make the mistake of adding a rather suggestive extra 'L' to Kitsap though. Oopsy.
posted by stet at 1:21 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


> I had no idea until now about "fracas" -- I'm sure I learned FRACK-us from someone like Bugs Bunny, because it wasn't a word we used at home. But I think I got away with those errors.

I pronounced "primer" (as in school books) like primmer because that's the way I learned it, maybe the way my mother said it. I knew "primer" rhymed with "rhymer" when you were talking about paint, but I thought the book was a primmer. Someone mocked me for it -- "I'm surprised at you!" -- and made me feel bad in front of others.


I have good news for you: neither of those are errors! The standard US pronunciation of "fracas" is either FRAY-cus or FRACK-us (Merriam-Webster; I say the latter); it's the Brits who leave off the final -s (\ˈfra-ˌkä\). And your understanding of the two forms of "primer" is exactly correct (Merriam-Webster; scroll down for the paint)—whoever mocked you was not only an asshole but didn't know what they were talking about. I suggest you go and mock them back, or at least give them a good sneer.

I beg you, people, to keep in mind two all-important things: there are often more than one acceptable/"correct" ways to say something, and just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they're right, even if they act like they know it all. If you're unsure about a word, look it up, and remember that every variant given is correct unless labeled "substandard" or the like. Use your language with confidence and flair!
posted by languagehat at 1:32 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


Oh, and "fete" rhymed with "fate" is also perfectly correct—you were mocked by yet another ignorant asshole!
posted by languagehat at 1:33 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


PS: I just checked my spam folder, as I occasionally do, and there was an email titled "The lingerie gods have smiled upon you." I guess they like mispronunciations!
posted by ferret branca at 1:37 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

I pronounced "primer" (as in school books) like primmer because that's the way I learned it, maybe the way my mother said it. I knew "primer" rhymed with "rhymer" when you were talking about paint, but I thought the book was a primmer.
You were correct.
posted by dfan at 1:54 PM on June 10


Beat-rice

Milton Jones thinks the same thing!


Man, so many great words in this thread, including a couple I just learned here. I've had my fair share of mispronounced words, none of which I can remember at the moment. But I do recall a bit of trouble when I was just learning to read; one of my books had the word "together" in it a few times, and I'd get stuck on it every time - I kept saying it TOG-ither, and I knew that wasn't right. It seemed like ages, but was probably just a few weeks, before I started remembering it was to-GETH-er.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:09 PM on June 10


Mine was ethereal, and I pronounced it eth-uh-real.

I was so pissed off when I found out sidereal is sigh-DEER-ee-uhl because SIDE-REAL seemed so right, it's like 'real' view from way off to the side argh.
posted by fleacircus at 2:40 PM on June 10


I just automatically pronounced it Yo-semite

I used to think it was Yo-se-mighty, it must have made sense at the time.
posted by Lanark at 2:50 PM on June 10


As an émigré who learned english mostly by reading: too many. Way, way to many. Probably all in this thread at some point. I also just learned how to spell pronunciation (without an o) so...yeah, thanks for that one.

Mispronunciations are mostly not a thing in German because, believe it or not, there are rules on how to pronounce words and you just follow the rules and out pops the right word? Plus, our vocabulary is much smaller.

One thing that drives me crazy in English is that you guys are NOT happy with a pronunciation following the original language. Like, I will order a croissant or a latte with the french or Italian pronunciation and the barista looks at me like I have two heads. Even worse with German words like Zeitgeist, Volkswagen, Porsche...I know how to say those words but have to take the step to americanize them so people understand. Not sure who is ‘mispronouncing’ here but I insist it isn’t me!
posted by The Toad at 2:57 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


I also say "melk" for "milk,"

I had a friend who did that; once I asked her "What comes after five?" and she answered "Sex." So I said "See you at five, then!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:58 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I'm always mispronouncing French proper names, because I know just enough about French spelling conventions to get me in trouble. It came as quite a surprise to me that the 'x' in Aix and the 'z' in Boulez are not silent. Then there's W. E. B. DuBois, who as an American is a somewhat different story, but that didn't stop teenage me from "correcting" my high school history teacher only to find out later that, no, it really isn't [dy bwa]. (But Schützenberger does rhyme with Fabergé, which, when I heard that in grad school, I was like get the fuck outta here!)

Until my early twenties I pronounced "psuedo" as "sway-doh" (rhymes with play-doh), because I got the silent "p" correct but not the rest of it, I guess.

This one's not done with you yet: the correct spelling is "pseudo"!
posted by aws17576 at 3:06 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


SONUVA-
posted by schroedinger at 3:07 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


My mom thinks the plural of "siren" is "sy-REENS"
posted by 4ster at 3:28 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


As a teacher, when I hear kids mispronounce words I am delighted because it means they're readers.Keep saying them words wrong, kids!!
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:36 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


US place names are kind of arbitrary

Just before I moved to Oregon, a friend of mine who had once done some national touring in a bar band let me know that the river flowing through Portland was pronounced will-AM-mit as in dammit, not will-a-MET as I'd assumed. I still tripped up on the street name Yamhill, which I naturally assumed was named after a hill where yams were once grown: yam-hill. I was gleefully corrected that it was pronounced YAM-mul.

There's also a street here spelled Couch, that everyone pronounces "cootch" with a perfectly straight face...maybe that slang term isn't as universally-known as I thought?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:39 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


On the foreign language front, Japanese is mostly trivially easy to pronounce. Thirty minutes or so of Wikipedia so you can get the right A,I,U,E,O sounds, the consonants aren't that bad (except the R/L thing which may or may not be hard), half a dozen rules. Figure out how the romanization works (there are half a dozen different ways), or better yet forget that and just learn the 50-ish (x2) hiragana/katakana. You could probably read a children's story to a child having no clue what it meant and still get close enough to not be laughed at. That's only slightly over-simplified, but it is pretty straight forward.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:40 PM on June 10


Autodidact as a kid (like many here), so lots of reading and looking up definitions, but I never understood the dictionary's pronunciation keys. I never erred publicly on the two I know I got wrong, and they're the typical: epitome and awry, where I believed the words I was reading were just different from the words I knew. I could tell you at age 7 that something had gone awry, but would have spelled it as a-rye, like "a-hunting we will go."

Until I started watching PBS/Masterpiece versions of my favorite novels, I never realized that "quay" was pronounced key, but no matter how many times I read the books, I couldn't figure out what a quay actually was, anyway, beyond a very general sense from context. I'm still not quite sure how it compares to a pier or a wharf, having never seen any of the three in person, even now. (Seeing Fisherman's Wharf at night without my glasses did not help at all.)

Perhaps related, as another boaty/water thing, before this thread, I don't believe I've ever heard of OR read the word "gunwale." Or, for that matter, been close enough to a boat to need to name one.

However, during one of my college summers about 30 years ago, a friend called me and we were talking about what we were reading, and I mentioned a book that referenced Samuel Pepys diaries. And I pronounced Pepys like "peppies." My friend (a guy with whom I still speak every day, and love because of this anecdote), just casually said, "Oh, it's Peeps" and went on with the conversation. I got off the phone and shouted downstairs to my mother about the conversation and the correct pronunciation. She had no idea who Pepys was, but gamely listened, while my father, elsewhere in the house, acted like it was the funniest, most foolish thing he'd ever heard that I'd mispronounced it, and shouted "Pepys!" at the top of his lungs for days. Believe me when I say that's the nicest story I have about my father, who died three weeks ago and is mourned by nobody, and whose existence made mine go awry in youth but has made me the epitome of resilience in my decrepitude. (Also, I was going to ask MeFi what to do with the ashes, but now it appears obvious that I should get into a boat from the quay and toss the ashes over the gunwale!)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:40 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


Some new ones to the thread
* scarce - always in my head as "scar+ss". I remember my friend being corrected in Grade 7 English when he read it aloud my way. This became the basis of our friendship. (no)
* I appreciate cedillas, because they remind me that there is no such thing as a "fack-aid". (façade)
* I still find myself thinking "arch-ive" on occasion, going back to the beginning of my IBM PC and DOS manual adolescence. ("the .ARJ arch-ive" has a juicy substance that cannot be denied--just like, of course, the JIFF format)
posted by sylvanshine at 3:48 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


There's also a street here spelled Couch, that everyone pronounces "cootch" with a perfectly straight face...

Heh. I was visiting Portland once and stopped to ask a stranger "How do you pronounce the name of the street we're on?" Without looking up, he said "Cooch!"

We were on Glisan Street.
posted by aws17576 at 3:49 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


4ster, where's your mother from? My family says SY-REEN for siren and they're all from northwestern Tennessee.
posted by mochapickle at 3:55 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


biopic

surely I'm not the only one?
posted by standardasparagus at 4:51 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I think the fett/fate thing is a typical US/England split, too? I just binge-watched a bunch of BBC Miss Marple episodes and they had a lot of English village "fates" that took me a second to realize were "fett"s.

Despite the repeated reminders in this thread, I still read "quay" as it's spelled. I think I even knew at some point in high school that it was pronounced "kee" and it still won't stick.
posted by lazuli at 4:52 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Biopic! That was the other one I was going to mention and forgot. Though I heard a movie critic pronounce it bi-OP-ic the other day so maybe it's shifting?
posted by lazuli at 4:53 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


In first grade we had a series of worksheets or stories or some such that featured people with names far more eclectic than we generally encountered in rural Ohio. It took me a long time to understand that the name José did not begin with a J sound and rhyme with rose.

I also remember in third grade, we were reading aloud some story about an opera. Susan went to the opera, it was a beautiful opera, bla bla bla, opera, opera, opera... (Which is an odd choice of topic for third graders, now that I think about it.) This kid in my class kept pronouncing it as Oprah. It was hilarious, but I swear we were laughing with him.

Also, I'm always paranoid that I'm mispronouncing niche. My instinct is to say neesh, but most people seem to say nitch. I just googled it, and apparently that one is not clear-cut. My paranoia will continue.
posted by gueneverey at 5:25 PM on June 10


> On the foreign language front, Japanese is mostly trivially easy to pronounce. Thirty minutes or so of Wikipedia so you can get the right A,I,U,E,O sounds, the consonants aren't that bad (except the R/L thing which may or may not be hard), half a dozen rules. Figure out how the romanization works (there are half a dozen different ways), or better yet forget that and just learn the 50-ish (x2) hiragana/katakana. You could probably read a children's story to a child having no clue what it meant and still get close enough to not be laughed at. That's only slightly over-simplified, but it is pretty straight forward.

This is... a very strange paragraph. You seem to be taking for granted that nobody would be crazy enough to try to read actual Japanese, with kanji and everything. (Also, you're ignoring the pitch accent which separates words like haná 'flower' and hana 'nose.')

> Also, I'm always paranoid that I'm mispronouncing niche. My instinct is to say neesh, but most people seem to say nitch.

They're both fine! You can't go wrong!
posted by languagehat at 5:32 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I’m glad to know I’m not alone with Penny-lope and Hermie-own, but no one else had trouble with Shlow?

(Chloe. A stupid name anyway.)
posted by Liesl at 5:41 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The big ones that comes to mind are reverberate (it's not REV-err-brate?) and of course, the infamous segue.

One that's been bugging me for a while though, to where I thought about using an Ask for it this week: how do you pronounce 'applicable'? I've always said it APP-lick-uhble, but lately every.single.person around me has been saying it uhh-PLICK-uhble and I'm like...?!

(and on preview re: names, the first time I made the connection between Siobhan and Chevonne, wow, just wow)
posted by stellaluna at 5:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


My take-away from this thread is that it is kind of juvenile and horrible to make fun [really make fun, not just a little gentle joking in a friendly setting] of how people talk, and that there's a surprising number of folks in the world who think it's fine. Even if one went to Harvard and even if one's casual acquaintance did mispronounce a word, the gracious thing to do would either be to ignore the error or - if it would definitely be welcome - to obliquely correct the error in passing.

Ugh, seriously, making fun of people's pronunciation is about one step up from making fun of their names.

My very favorite creative pronunciation was the person whose first attempt at Foucault was "Michael Fuck-all't", which is how I've thought of him ever since.

I cannot say "Sartre". I have avoided talking about existentialism in public for years for this reason.

I thought "quay" was pronounced like "quai" right up until this very moment.
posted by Frowner at 5:57 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


Oh no, now we're on to the place names. My Southern friends giggled when I said I'd been reading about the Apalay-shan Trail. (Apple-at-chan?)
Katahdin. (CAT-a-din, but it's cat-AH-din)
Yosemite (Yo-smite. no it's Yo-sem-it-ee) (not part of the AT though)

Although, when I moved to the town I'm in, I will forever remember the thoughtfulness of my host (I boarded the first 6 months) and how they sat me down with a map and went through how to pronounce the place names around here- so the kids wouldn't laugh at me!
In a training session at work we were reminded to have patience when we ring the hotline for DHHS (CPS equiv) as they are in Melbourne, and have no idea about the size of places, the distances between them, never mind the pronunciations!

Poor Sigh-ob-han when I pronounced her name- she did sigh and tell me it was Shivaughn
I thought the person on the timesheets was somebody else!

Also on names, I have a friend of a friend, christened Sean who his friends (ironically?) call 'Seen'.
posted by freethefeet at 6:00 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


languagehat: strange maybe, but you're wrong in the way that you picked the THING that I was avoiding bringing up in this mispronunciation thing. I'd be the one ranting that romaji is stupid and you should do Heisig and learn to write with a brush.

I was just aiming for the level of 'hokkaidō' is easy to pronounce. It's even easier if it's 'ほっかいどう' and '北海道' is an entirely different matter (or seeing someones name in romaji of some form and not being too far off). And you could probably easily read a kids story without kanji (without understanding it) and have someone else understand.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:02 PM on June 10


Yosemite (Yo-smite. no it's Yo-sem-it-ee) (not part of the AT though)

That'd be one hell of a side-quest!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:25 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


4ster, where's your mother from? My family says SY-REEN for siren and they're all from northwestern Tennessee.

Mochapickle: Eastern Virginia. I am amazed someone else does this.
posted by 4ster at 6:47 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


In about fourth grade, I said out loud "deer-ee-gibble" and was gently corrected to "di-ridge-ibble." Of course, I'd only ever seen it in print.

In my 50s, I said "aig" and was loudly corrected to "ay-gue" which I looked up, decided it was ugly and so never used it again. I just thought "ague" ought to correspond with "league."
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:08 PM on June 10


One last thought: I had an an uncle, aunt and cousins who lived near Wooster, Ohio. I got a kick out of the fact that Worcester, the name of towns in England, Massachusetts, and several other places, were all pronounced WUUS-tər, but only the one in Ohio spelled it right.

(Actually, they were closer to Orrville, Ohio, the location of Smuckers' headquarters and original jelly factory, and I preferred to emphasize the double-R when referring to it, even though it was not recommended)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:10 PM on June 10


In what part of the US do people put a d in tomato?

I am home alone right now and just said tomato out loud about fifteen different ways. The mister is in Vegas, Kid Ruki is at her grandparents, and they're both going to ask me what I did this weekend. "Oh, you know, this and that, and then I sat in bed at 2:38 in the morning saying tomato out loud to myself in as many different ways as I could think of. The usual."


UPDATE: It seems the answer to my question is MY HOUSE because Kid Ruki came home and I told her about my late night tomato monologue. Turns out she says tomato with a d, so we spent a good five minutes saying tomato at each other with increasing intensity until she said, "What is even going on right now? I'm going to bed!" She just texted me from her bedroom LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE with a screenshot of her and her friends debating the pronunciation of the word tomato.

This thread has brought me so much entertainment beyond just reading it. I have a feeling that the Great Tomato War has only just begun.
posted by Ruki at 7:13 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Also on names, I have a friend of a friend, christened Sean who his friends (ironically?) call 'Seen'.

I just had a phone conversation with a colleague named Sean in which I mentioned I had been confused because I was expecting a call from him but a different co-worker named Sean had just called and I had a weird few seconds on the phone trying to figure out to which Sean I was speaking. He laughed and said they were the only two "Sean"s he'd even met, and I said that was the normal spelling where I grew up, which was a heavily Irish-American area; he said that he grew up in Southern California where "Shawn" was the common spelling and everyone thought his name was pronounced "Seen." He then yelled "SEAN CONNERY, PEOPLE! IT'S NOT THAT HARD" for a few minutes. Apparently I inadvertently hit a nerve.
posted by lazuli at 7:25 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


The name Jean as a female English name baffled me until my late teens, having taken French since age 6 and having it solidly stuck in my head as a male-french-name-only-pronounced-this-way, even though I'd worn jeans my whole life up to that point (not like, unceasingly, just sometimes). So I always avoided trying to pronounce both Hermione and her middle name.

As a bored kid reading shampoo bottles when taking a shower, I always pronounced Palmolive splitting the word into 'palm' and 'live' (as in livestock), the o somehow functioning as the o in 'bottle 'o water' does. I guess I didn't know what olives were til my lates teens either. The first time I heard it pronounced in a Palmolive ad I was shook. Thankfully I never said it out loud.

This thread needs more foreign language examples because I'm becoming convinced it's only English speakers who can't pronounce their own language.

I'm a background Mandarin speaker, and though I don't have the parallel trouble in Chinese because characters aren't things you can phonetically sound out, I do this thing where I accidentally switch the characters around on some of the words when I'm speaking despite knowing fully well that they're obviously not that. Numerous times I've ordered bee flavoured tea and bee flavoured cake rather than honey.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 8:01 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I was going to say Biopic, but others did that before me. Penelope is one I've not heard of. Diagonal.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:14 PM on June 10


Aloysius was name I pronounced internally as al OY see us. It took me a long time to realize that al OO ishus is Aloysius. Luckily, I never said it out loud.

Thanks, language hat, for assuring me that BAYnull is acceptable!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:45 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I see a number of people struggling with pronouncing the names of drugs/chemicals/etc. and I just want to hug you all and tell you that you are not alone. I am not in the lab anymore, but we chemists have a ridiculous number of words whose pronunciation is not obvious, especially if you learned chemistry in a different language and have only encountered the English terms in papers. chiral is not "CHY-ral", it's "KY-ral". Even worse, there are a number of differences in preferred pronunciations between US/UK/Canada/Australia/NZ.

The first vowel in methane can be pronounced /ɛ/ or /iː/. methyl rhymes with "bee file" for some speakers but "Bethel" for others.
The e in phenol is either /iː/ or /ə/ and even worse, the stress changes depending on the vowel.
The last two vowels in carbonyl vary a bit, too, and needless to say the stress changes.
I've had biology students stare blanky at me when I mention the word ligand (ˈlɪɡənd); they're all expecting ('laɪɡɑnd).

To limeonaire, whose bugbear is acetaminophen, chemists will universally agree that: acetic acid is uh-SEE-tik acid, while acetate is A-suh-tate. Go figure. The aceta part of acetaminophen comes from acetyl, and guess what, I'm not consistent in my pronunciation of that either!

.... I've spent the last fifteen minutes looking up chemistry words on m-w.com and now I am super-confused. (amide, amine, imide all seem to have varying pronunciations depending on who you learned these terms from. Their pronunciation of imidazole doesn't click with anything I've ever heard. The one on Forvo is the way that I say it.)
posted by invokeuse at 9:58 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


As a voracious devourer of mystery novels as a young child, I remember my Extreme frustration with my parents trying to teach me the difference between suspect, the noun, and suspect, the verb. Because obviously I knew one was a person and one was an action, but the whole rest of the explanation struck me as utter nonsense.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:42 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


And they’re pronounced differently, which is extra fun! Also see: house, police and research (dialect depending)
posted by iamkimiam at 10:59 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The Toad: Mispronunciations are mostly not a thing in German because, believe it or not, there are rules on how to pronounce words and you just follow the rules and out pops the right word?

Dutch is pretty similar although we're not quite that predictable; still, compared to English, there are way fewer possible ways to pronounce a given combination of letters, and way fewer possible ways to write a given sound. 'Zoeven' (ZOO-ven) will always rhyme with 'boeven', 'hoeven' and 'vertoeven', unless there's a trema: zoëven (ZO-ayven).
A trema means 'we pronounce these letters separately'. It looks like an Umlaut but the meaning is different. Dutch doesn't use the Umlaut.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:44 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Tinnitus is pronounced TIN-uh-tus. I learned this when I told my doctor I had recently realized that I've had tin-EYE-tus all my life, and she very gently corrected me by using the correct pronunciation.

I learned the right way to say Pulitzer some years back while looking at the prize's website: "The correct pronunciation is 'PULL it sir.'" It's been a hard slog changing after decades of PEW-lit-zer.
posted by bryon at 12:01 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Ok, major share/overshare here, but I think I might have just articulated the heck out of a bunch of transgender social issues that I have yet to be able to articulate.

Some of this stuff I'm not sure if I've ever seen articulated anywhere at all, but it wouldn't be the first time I re-invented a wheel the hard way.

Form factor: My email reply to my mom's questioning but attempting to accept reply about (again, finally, irrevocably) coming out. The blanks I'm replying to are pretty easy to fill in and mostly basic trans 101 stuff.

Contents: Radical self acceptance and a bit of a personal breakthrough.

Warning: Major industrial strength onion cutting. There's also some super clumsy stuff I would edit, like the part about "even gay/lesbian people through trans people under the bus all the time", which obviously isn't true at all, so please don't pick at it too much. I'm writing something impassioned to my Mormon mom to try to communicate some difficult things that are basic understandings for most of us, here.

I'm also blabbing erroneously and not so humbly about my, feh, amazing communication skills but there are relative values and economies of scale in play. More humbly - I am an egg, clumsy by MeFi's upper standards.

So, I will share this as is. It's still pretty good stuff. Sorry about all the damn onions.

Hugs!

Well, that was a lot easier to read than I thought it would be.

Thank you for not attacking me.

So, I don't have a lot of time or energy to reply right now, but that's actually good because it's a good tired.

Edit: Oh, apparently I do have the energy and I wrote a lot more than I thought I would. This is actually good for me and I hope I've articulated some things in ways that help. I've definitely articulated some things that have helped me, specifically about how logically and objectively weird it is that almost everyone goes "Oh, no." when you try to talk about being trans and different, and how deeply weird it is that the default judgement of this is negative.

Edit edit and side note: I should maybe talk about the fact that... I do a lot of communication for my job and in my life maintaining friendships, reaching out to people and practicing a lot of emotional care and what could be seen as therapy. I also have now spent a lot of my life honing my rhetorical and logic skills and even have some classical training. I'm also slated for training in conflict resolution and non-violent communication among other soft skills.

I'm bringing this up because I mean every word of this gently, and you may notice me using some classical rhetorical devices mixed in with the empathy, and I may be probing you to really think about what I'm trying to say.

ALSO, here's an idea and something I can offer - if you'd like to chat with me on the phone or even maybe a video call with a professional gender therapist or related pro - I'm very comfortable and open to that.

Feeling confusion, denial or even grieving is actually very natural for parents of people who come out as trans. It's very much a known thing, ok? And I haven't been doing a very good job trying to accept this part from you or help you through it.

And, mainly, I want to share joy with you and try to have a healthy relationship, ok?

I can't see this link because I've blocked Facebook from all my devices, but there's this: https://www.facebook.com/Orange-County-PFLAG-331273118571

PFLAG people are amazing and usually the part of a GLBTQ pride parade that makes me cry, because it's everyone's parents, friends and coworkers and stuff who aren't GLBTQ themselves.

PS, it's pride month. I don't know if you know much of GLBTQ history, but see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

The "gay rights" movement was actually started by oppressed, abused transgender people who had had enough of the police abuse. "Pride Month" as a celebration of all facets of human idenity (including straight/hetereo) itself forgets this and forgets that it was transgender people who started fighting back the most, first.

I'm bringing this up to point out that trans people are even forgotten and ignored by gay/lesbian people all the time. Thankfully I'm as tough as nails and as lucky as a leprechaun, but the story of most transgender people is usually much worse than mine and much more of a struggle. I've avoided sex work for survival, and hard drugs, and lots of other screwy and unhealthy stuff.

I'm also bringing this up to point out that this Pride celebration/month/parade thing is now also officially for you.

If you want it.

One of your children is transgender, and there's actually nothing wrong with that at all.


Ok, questions... responses.

First, let me assure you that my HRT treatment is EXTREMELY low risk. I'm using patches, which is the lowest risk there is. My anti-androgen is spirolonactone, which isn't state of the art globally but the best I can get in the states. I'm having no problems or any of the side effects that are common, so I don't care or mind it.

They have less risk and complication than antidepressants. And, in fact, you can think of them as antidepressants, but organic ones that are things my body already has and produces, just not enough of it.

It's also allowing me to live life, not feel like the walking dead... and I haven't had a suicidal ideation in so long that I think I would actually be utterly shocked to have it wander across my mind, and I used to have them so bad that it was basically constant background noise that I didn't want to be alive at all. That's how bad it was.

One of the things I'm happiest about right now and is probably the best, surest sign I can give you that I'm doing the right thing and suddenly finding myself happy, functional and just so chock full of life it's spilling out on to everyone around me is the following:

It isn't how happy I feel. It isn't the great sleep I've been getting. It isn't all of the self care, healthy eating and exercise I've been doing.

It's my calendar.

My Calendar goes from basically nothing at all for the last two years (40? i thought i was bad at calendars.) to doctor/therapist appointments every week or other week or so for a few months.

Then I start treatment and HRT in Feb, and there's flurry of more doc/therapist stuff and all the blood tests I do.

Then I interview for my current job in the beginning of march... start working and training the next week... maybe 15-20 hour a week.

Then May happens and my calendar explodes into some kind of speckled rainbow colored monster! My month of May is two pretty serious DJ gigs, nearly full time work, doc appointments and then everything else like self care and chores and laundry. Then here I am mid-June and my calendar is even more full. I'm mapping my personal/work calendars on top of my coworkers calendars, too, so I have like 4 different calendars, plus the master paper office calendar.

Like, oh, some kind of adult with an interest in life.

I SUDDENLY HAVE A LIFE. I'M LIVING IT. IT'S *EXPLETIVE* AWESOME.

Oh, mom, you have no idea, you can't, and I know you can't - it's ok.

I really wish I could give you just five minutes in my old brain to feel what my new brain feels like. My old brain and existence was horrible. It felt so bad that I... I don't even want to put it into words because I don't want to put my mom through it or make her worry any more, because I've done that.

My new brain... just mainly works. And it feels ok and normal. When good things happen they actually feel good. When bad things happen, I can feel them and process them, but they don't make me want to end reality itself, or dissociate, or withdraw.

And it's all real. It's not mania or just pretending to be busy, I'm busy all week long, almost every day. I haven't had a proper day off doing nothing at all since about the beginning of May and I don't care - I love every minute of it like I'm making up for lost time.

I'm ready for bed in an hour, will wake up at 6, have a light breakfast, and will probably put in 11 hours tomorrow. Tuesday I have therapy and a planning meeting, and I'm actually really excited to catch up with my therapist and talk about stuff and how great everything has been.

Heck, I have a garden and I'm growing spinach and kale and stuff and that's just background noise, and I'm still way more happy and proud of my awesome calendar.

And, sure, I have negative things I'd like to work on and discuss, but they're basically plain old regular problems and imperfections of life.

Here's another awesome thing, or a few awesome things.

I smile so much and so genuinely I make other people smile. Total strangers. I glow. I'm beaming.

Also, this town loves me. I can scarcely get across town without getting hugged or stopped for a chat or waving at a dozen people. I'm slowly turning into a local hero and character, and I love it.



Ok, a response to the metaphysical stuff. And, hey, I'm not trying to attack you, I know this taps into the core of a lot of beliefs.

But it's honestly not relevant to my life, where I am here and now, who I am, who I wish to be. Nor does it map very well with my very open, humanist, pragmatic and also classically, functionally stoic world view.

That's a heck of a sentence, but it basically means I am almost entirely secular and humanist and I definitively do not see or think of the world in Judeo-Christian terms, monotheistic gods, nor creation stories nor an afterlife. My ethics and morals aren't founded in them, and they haven't been since at least high school. So statements like "gender is determined in the pre-life" just don't make any sense or map over here as anything but a tautology.

Because one easy metaphysical counterargument to this is that I'm not male in my dreams, and never have been. If I have a spirit, I promise you it's not male.

The other metaphysical counterargument is that we do have the present reality, and wouldn't you rather be my friend and in my life here, and now?

I'm not waiting for an afterlife to live, or form meaningful or fulfilling relationships.

And I'm not expecting to be anything or meet anyone at all when I die. I know that might be hard for you, but it's logical and comforting to me and I'm just fine with it. I've already confronted my own mortality, it does not bother me, and I have no fear of it.


And, well, if you want to talk metaphysics and blessings and if there is a God, are they blessing me?

Mom, my life lately has been utterly magical. The last three or four years have been like a scene from the movie Amelie. I have no idea what's going on but it's starting to freak me out how amazing things are sometimes, but, no... no I'm not going to self-sabotage. I'm going to enjoy it and revel in it.

The last four months alone have been almost enough to make up for some very, very bad years.

I feel thankful, and blessed.


As for names - well, as you point out they are important to ones identity.

It's not likely I'm going to keep Jason, and something you should know now is that continuing to use the old name of someone trans who has decided on a new one can be... a problem, and is referred to as "dead-naming" someone. Being "dead-named" usually hurts a lot, whether or not the intent is loving or not.

I'm not sure how I personally feel about it yet. I'm not sure how I'll feel about it in 2 years, or 5.

But because of the late stage of my treatment and, well, how utterly shitty the world can be to women, it's likely I'm going to end up presenting androgynous and somewhat in-between. I already am expressing this, and it's comfortable, it works and it feels like me.

And the new name is usually very much *not* a nickname. It's usually very meaningful, serious and ceremonial. It can also be fun and unique, but it's still not a nickname or pseudonym.

It is an act of self realization and authentication and expression to name oneself.

When/if I do pick a name, it will be after at least a year of deliberation, care and thought, and I would prefer that people take it seriously and respect it.



As for environmental factors. Well, sure, maybe that's a thing, but this is one of the denial things that parents of trans people do to themselves, and, yeah, it's one of the things that trans people tend to roll their eyes at and go "Oh, this again, wee. No."

It's ok. So, let's suppose it is an environmental thing. Let's say, plastics. It doesn't matter right here and now.

If I had cancer from environmental factors and the drugs we had available that worked made me lose all my hair and grow breasts... does that mean I shouldn't take that treatment?

Why do you (and nearly everyone else) question the current known best practices and quality of care and guidelines for trans health?

You know that thing that male (and even female) doctors do to women that tends to not take them or their complaints seriously? Or, say, about a still rare or poorly researched disease like Epstein-Barr or CFS? Do you really want to do that to me and do the same thing? Because that's what people are actually doing when they do that, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to do that, right?

And so even if it is, say, plastics, it doesn't change the current science is that I likely have differences in my brain structure that are both male and female, nor does it change the current state of the art for treatment. It does nothing to treat my current reality and make me feel ok or valid.

And as for trans youth: That isn't happening like you're being told it happens, and that video and propaganda is almost entirely false. I've seen it and it's like, often via dodgy websites like The Sun. No one is forcing pre-puberty youth to take hormone therapy, and no current standards of care prescribe gender affirming HRT to pre-puberty youth because it would be just as bad and weird as forcing an early puberty on someone cis (IE, of their own physical gender)..

And the known statistical regret rates for people who feel they are trans undergoing treatment are effectively zero. It is very rare, and of all the dozens of other rare transgender people I've met, not a one has regretted starting treatment.

See the 40-odd studies in the link I sent you. And, well, your own utterly brilliant and scientifically minded first born is trying to tell you a lot of very real and authentic things about it, and they've always been ahead of the curve, not behind.

One thing that *is* happening is that doctors are offering puberty blockers to delay the onset of puberty until the trans youth in question can mature and figure things out for themselves.

The problem with this propaganda is that it denies the agency of the youth that are trans. I wish every day I had had this opportunity for treatment and I had had access to an actual gender therapist when I was a child. I wish I could have started HRT at 18 or 20 before so many horrible things happened to my body against my will.

So it hits really close to home and is deeply and justifiably offensive to me to be told (by proxy/propaganda, not you) that my thoughts and feelings that I've had since the start of puberty if not a bit before are wrong or invalid.

The other unhealthy problem with this is that you're trying to accept or place blame for who I am on yourself. Please don't do that - it's not healthy.



And the root problem with *any of this at all* is the insinuation that being trans is even bad or negative to begin with or that it requires an explanation at all.

Which is why it's also not ok to blame yourself for anything at all.

Do you need to explain why you were born a woman? White? Why you have blue eyes?

Do you have to explain why you were prescribed any medication at all, or do you have the privilege that people mainly don't comment about it or express concern about the side effects?

Does a black person need to apologize for being black because - due to racism - it's culturally unfortunate to be black?

See what I'm getting at here? And how weird it actually is that everyone goes "OH NO YOU'RE TRANS I'M SO SORRY THIS IS HORRIBLE!!"?

Why is it automatically by default bad? Why is it wrong? Why does society hate it so much? (This is a rhetorical Platonic mode question. The answers are very uncomfortable and rooted in sexism.)

I rather like who I am. I am a very interesting, kind, warm and intelligent human being. Who cares what I look like or if I have no tits or twenty? What does it matter if I change myself as I see fit - regardless of whether or not I'm transgender?


You could, y'know, listen and just try to accept and understand what I've been so bravely trying to tell everyone for the past, oh, twenty years.

This hasn't been easy. I'm very thankful to be here and thriving and finding my authentic self and finding piece and comfort in my silly old body.

And you should honestly be proud of how brave I am, how kind, how gentle and how articulate and communicative I have been. You can be proud of how I treat people in the world, the challenges I have overcome, and that I am still striving for.

And so, I get to confront one of the most difficult things a human being can do. It might be one of the most difficult things a human can do short of losing a child or partner.

I have a mountain in front of me. There's also a whole lot of mountain behind me that I've already climbed.

And I'm (supposedly) about to do a very, brave intense public thing with my life, and I'm right in the middle of it now.

And things are about to start to get REALLY WEIRD and I need all the support I can get.

Except I don't really feel brave at all - just happy and increasingly my *authentic* self, and that bravery is barely, so far, even required.

I'm still waiting to cross being told "You're a disgusting freak!" from a stranger in public off of my "transgender bingo card". It will happen, eventually.

What would you say, if you were there and saw someone say that to me? I expect I'm going to laugh then read them the riot act about what a piece of human garbage they are to judge me like that without knowing me at all. I guess that's pretty brave. Not sure if I really care that much any more.



Last... my job is a safe job - the safest possible job - to be someone transgender. My workplace is the closest thing we have to a GLBTQ center for a hundred miles. They all know already. My authentic self is a joy to them and an asset. They welcome my joy and enthusiasm and are glad to have it.

And I'm at this job to give back to the town that gave me so much life and joy. In exchange I will attempt to learn non-profits and grant writing and do as much good as I can for people like me.


So, Mom?

My only real question to you is if you have my back or not and want to share the joy that is blossoming so fully in my life right now, and for the foreseeable future.


Logically, I already made my choice to go it alone by starting GA-HRT without consulting anyone but my doctor, nor asking permission from anyone, knowing full well it could mean complete and total social isolation.

I am very comfortable with this - but social isolation isn't what happened at all, and I am glad. Instead I just blossomed and can't stop sharing the joy, and I love it so much. I have WAY MORE than the average amount of friends at any age. I'm so wealthy and happy it's freakin' embarrassing sometimes.

And, so, I have a great support network, and I'm inviting you to be part of it. I'm having a second childhood and puberty in a very real sense, and I intend for it to be a good and healthy one.



And it is.

Mom? Sometimes I sit on the beach and just... glow. I bask. I get to see the world with newly young eyes, and I get to have a bit of a do-over, and I am thankful and glad.

Each breath is exquisite and delicious. My work is deeply satisfying and rewarding. I do not loaf, I bask. I wander in serendipity and flow and goodness.

My lightness of being is finally bearable.


You couldn't ask for more for me. I really wish I could just show you how ridiculously happy I am and how much more of myself I am becoming. It's just great and totally amazing and, well, transformative.


I want you to be glad, and by golly I'll get you there! I'm up for the job!

Love you so much!
posted by loquacious at 12:33 AM on June 11 [18 favorites]


Big discussions with friends a while back about coitus. I have always believed it to be said like quoit-is. Others said co-it-us. Apparently it was premature of me to mock them. Who knew?!
posted by taff at 1:56 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


When my best friend and I were heading off to college, we were both so happy because she would only be an hour from me, in a MA town called Wooster. This was pre-internet. We were planning on how we could take busses to hang out, so we were on the floor looking at a MA map and I'm making wider and wider circles around Boston and GODDAMNIT there is no WOOSTER anywhere. She's telling me it's only an hour away, I'm looking at the map index for Wooster, and I was feeling like either I was really stupid or she was a total nutjob because there is no Wooster anywhere in Massachusetts.

She points to a starred city west of Framingham and yelled, "HERE. It's HERE."

Worcester. She went to college in Worcester.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:36 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Oh wow, so I only just learnt the pronunciation of ennui from this thread.

I also watched Straight Out of Compton last night and I'd been pronouncing Suge (Knight) as Sooge in my head rather than like the first half of the word sugar.
posted by Kris10_b at 5:50 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The first time I said the word "duodenum", it was during a university biology lab demo, and I put the emphasis on the second syllable, with a short "o". What's worse is that I wasn't a student -- I was one of the instructors. Luckily it happened in the prep session before the actual undergrads came in, so I didn't spread any mind-viruses. Everyone else in the room was apparently born knowing all the latinate parts of a rabbit's intestines.
posted by rollick at 6:12 AM on June 11


> Tinnitus is pronounced TIN-uh-tus. I learned this when I told my doctor I had recently realized that I've had tin-EYE-tus all my life, and she very gently corrected me by using the correct pronunciation.

> The first time I said the word "duodenum", it was during a university biology lab demo, and I put the emphasis on the second syllable, with a short "o". What's worse is that I wasn't a student -- I was one of the instructors. Luckily it happened in the prep session before the actual undergrads came in, so I didn't spread any mind-viruses.

Both pronunciations are OK for both these words (I say du-ODD-enum for duodenum, and switch back and forth for tinnitus). Again: please, don't just accept it if someone else "corrects" you; people often assume that the way they say something is The Way, and it's often not.
posted by languagehat at 6:20 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


I know in my heart of hearts that the word meaning "pertaining to the office of governor" is goo-ber-na-tor-ee-al, but I keep saying goober-national. This amuses my wife every time.

Given the state of politics in Tennessee right now, I will have a LOT of chances to get it right between now and November.

Gubernatorial.
posted by pianoblack at 6:29 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Well, I learned something about beelzebub today...


My girlfriend makes fun of me for pronouncing it cilantro, not cil-ahn-tro. I am from the Midwest, gosh dangit.


My ex parsed "prelude" as "prel-ude" rather than "pre-lude" which I always found charming.
posted by coppermoss at 7:43 AM on June 11


coppermoss: My girlfriend makes fun of me for pronouncing it cilantro, not cil-ahn-tro.

I assume those are supposed to be different? In what way?
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:45 AM on June 11


Ah the life of a precocious reader.

I pronounced draught as "drot" until my teenage years and had built up a pretty extensive model of the differences between draft and drot ("draft beer" but "a game of drots").

I pronounced epitome as rhyming with home into my twenties without being corrected.

I pronounced debris out loud as "dee-briss" as a teenager to blank stares.

I thought that Arkansas was pronounced "Our Kansas."
posted by 256 at 9:13 AM on June 11


Too-Ticky, the pronunciations here are more or less spot-on. She pronounces it the US way, and I pronounce it the UK way, except a little bit more Midwestern (almost like cil-ayn-tro).
posted by coppermoss at 9:50 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I still can't pronounce ennui right. Even as I'm typing it it's en-you-i, not on-wee or whatever.

I actually like en-you-i better than on-wee.
posted by loquacious at 10:11 AM on June 11


Mine is Thames. I thought it was like "thanes" with an M.

If you live in Southeastern Connecticut, it IS.

We also have "KAH-ventry," which is Coventry when it isn't pronounced like a coven of witches, and "BER-lin," which is what you get when you want to dissociate yourself with Germany during World War I.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:11 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


A possibly apocryphal story my mother likes to tell is that as she was teaching me how to read, I asked her if there was some sort of guide that helped people know how to pronounce a word correctly, thus leading to me knowing the pronunciation guide/key at age four. I was That Kid who carried around a pocket dictionary wherever I went because I read voraciously and needed to make sure I was pronouncing unknown words correctly*. So I don't really have a story about mispronunciations, except those related to city/town names. Portland, OR, you are WRONG about Willamette. And Couch St.

UK, I'll let y'all slide.

*why, yes, I am a pedant.
posted by cooker girl at 11:07 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


My mother taught me to read starting when I was about 4. I had learned about long and short vowels, and double consonants - or so I thought.
At the grocery store with my grandma, I asked "What is Le-Tuce?" (last syllable rhymes with Puce, and sounding vaguely French, i guess).
So, lettuce. Let us begin.
posted by dbmcd at 11:30 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Am I the only person who has to say Wed-NES-day aloud when spelling it?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:59 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


So many that I doubt I can recall a tenth of them. I put it down to being quite well read but raised in the US South by (lower) middle class family, being first off to college, etc.

Gose (the beer style): I was saying Go-zzz.
Malbec: I was saying Ma-ail-beh-k instead of Mal-beh-k.
Gnocchi: I still pronounce the G. *shrug*
Sommelier: I forget how I was saying it, it was slightly wrong and/or an alter pronunciation but now I'm so turned around that I end up saying Somalia if pressured.

Many more... even more if you count the just general list of words that a southern accent wreaks havoc on. But damnit I revel in the fact that my brain can identify pedantry like that of a recent mispronounced reference to the "Bobbsey" twins so I wish it wasn't as bad as all that but I got to dance with them that brought me, if you catch my drift.

And also Eyebrows's comment is... so, so good and appreciated. Spot on.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:01 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Quoting myself from almost 5 years ago: "There are at least two words that I pronounce differently as adjectives than I do as verbs: Elaborate and Separate. Can you elaborate on that? E-lab-oh-rate. That's an elaborate table setting. E-lab-writ. Please separate your laundry. Sep-uh-rate. They are two separate things. Sep-writ."

I pronounce the T in "water" and the second T in "tomato" so softly that they might as well be Ds.
posted by soelo at 12:06 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


"Victual" rhymes with "little".

Because English is a rough trough through the boughs and boroughs of pronunciation.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 12:08 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


"Gnocchi: I still pronounce the G. *shrug*"

The cat on Curious George is named Gnocchi, and one day my four-year-old was coloring and said, "Mom, how do you spell Noki?" "What?" "Noki?" "What's a Noki?" "The cat on Curious George!" "OH! It's G-N-O-C-C-H-I." EPIC PRESCHOOLER STINKEYE. He got really mad and said, "Mom! I really want to know! Tell me the REAL way! STOP TEASING!" Had to go find a Curious George book with Gnocchi in it to convince him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:20 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


I am late to this thread but I just want to flip it around a little bit: after seeing the Red Letter Medi/Plinkett review of The Phantom Menace (which I found out about from this post back in 2009) I CANNOT correctly pronounce the word protagonist. I MUST say "prot-uh-GONE-ist".
I must.
(My brother crashlanding and my ex from that time both still consistently pronounce it that way also.)
I know that there are a lot of crappy things about Plinkett and Red Letter Media but it delights me to mispronounce that word, even to this day.
oh yeah, the right way to say it is "pro-TAG-uh-nist" i think
posted by capnsue at 12:49 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I pronounce the T in "water" and the second T in "tomato" so softly that they might as well be Ds.

Don't a lot of people do this?
posted by cooker girl at 12:55 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Ruki asked "In what part of the US do people put a d in tomato?" so I guess I should add that I was born and raised in Minnesoda.
posted by soelo at 1:04 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Don't a lot of people do this?

Yep, a ladda'us do.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:34 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


I thought that Arkansas was pronounced "Our Kansas."

It is, in Kansas. Oh, sure, we'll pronounce the state ARE-kin-saw, just to be super polite. But the Arkansas River and Arkansas City are both ARE-kansas within the state of Kansas. Sue us.
posted by bryon at 1:54 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


DOT, Jr. has a bit where he pretends to misunderstand the L.A. Fitness sign to read "La Fitness," which he then pronounces with a French accent, noting that "It is where you must go if you are, how you say, La Fat."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:54 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Now that I say it out loud, Arkansas in Kansas is also pronounced are-KAN-sas. Either the first or second syllable can get the accent.
posted by bryon at 1:58 PM on June 11


"Don't a lot of people do this?"

My husband has one case right now in Madison and one in Matteson and it's causing endless, endless confusion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:53 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


I've already talked about this, in an older thread about username pronunciations.
posted by hanov3r at 3:43 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


CaRIBean / cariBEAN. Oh, and I was pretty convinced "segue" was spoken "sigue" (as in sputnik), so it took a while before I got Dean Kamen.

(Though it's not the sort of mispronunciation you mean, I guess, the memory of getting "tongue" wrong, after seeing it written on the blackboard, was forever seared into my nine-year old immigrant brain.)
posted by progosk at 3:57 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


When my son was little he'd pronounce please as police car and Spider-man as fire can. So something i'd regularly hear - "Police car dada sing me the fire can song." Because the song I knew best was the theme for the 60s Spider-man cartoon and used it as the last resort lullaby during nap time.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:19 PM on June 11


when the passage talked about Yosemite National Park, I just automatically pronounced it Yo-semite

I thought Yosemite Sam and YOZ-MITE Sam were two different characters from cartoons... somehow.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:15 PM on June 11


I've already talked about this, in an older thread about username pronunciations.

I prefer “fourteen fourteen” over “one four one four”.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:39 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


loquacious,

That is an AWESOME and amazing and beautiful letter to your mom and I am so glad you shared it with us. THANK YOU! I am SO PROUD of you for talking to your mom and being so beautifully kind and honest!

"And you should honestly be proud of how brave I am, how kind, how gentle and how articulate and communicative I have been."

You are so brave, and so kind, and so gentle and articulate and communicative ... and I am SO SO glad you can see that in yourself.

"Sometimes I sit on the beach and just... glow. I bask. I get to see the world with newly young eyes, and I get to have a bit of a do-over, and I am thankful and glad."

This is the best thing ever.

I just want to hug you for a year.

[[[[[[[[[[[hug]]]]]]]]]]]
posted by kristi at 8:44 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Ruki asked "In what part of the US do people put a d in tomato?" so I guess I should add that I was born and raised in Minnesoda.

Kid Ruki will happily add you to her list of people who say tomato the right way. Including myself, my list contains three people. Her list contains everyone else she's asked. I never realized.

She's now become fascinated with regional word pronunciations. We got into merry/marry/Mary on the way home from the market today. I say all three differently. She says merry as its own word, but marry and Mary the same. I offered to show her one of the MeFi threads on dialects but she's afraid that if she goes down the rabbit hole on this, she'll never come back up.
posted by Ruki at 8:47 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I was convinced leotard was pronounced lehtord when I was like 8. I convinced our substitute teacher. Most likely she just didn’t care to argue with an obnoxious 8-yo.

Ok, but what the hell with subsequent? I pronounce it SUBsehkwent. My work colleagues say SubSEEkwent. I am shooketh.
posted by greermahoney at 10:18 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Quoting myself from almost 5 years ago: "There are at least two words that I pronounce differently as adjectives than I do as verbs: Elaborate and Separate. Can you elaborate on that? E-lab-oh-rate. That's an elaborate table setting. E-lab-writ. Please separate your laundry. Sep-uh-rate. They are two separate things. Sep-writ."

Yes, that’s correct. The verbs and adjectives have different pronunciations, just like the verbs and nouns record, convert, import, refund, etc. have different stressed syllables. English is wacky.
posted by greermahoney at 10:27 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


My ex parsed "prelude" as "prel-ude" rather than "pre-lude" which I always found charming.

Omg, no this is a THING! This rich girl I went to school with pronounced it that way and def told us all we were wrong. Like, we were talking like yokels or something for saying it pray-lude instead of prel-yude. It was so odd.
posted by greermahoney at 10:32 PM on June 11


Loquacious, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I’m thrilled for you.
posted by greermahoney at 10:43 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


For geography, I did "Maryland" wrong for years, maybe partly based on Christy Moore's version of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (timestamp 1.28).
posted by rollick at 1:25 AM on June 12


I did "Maryland" wrong for years

By "wrong" in this case, I mean "not the way people in the US would", which might be considered right elsewhere?
posted by rollick at 1:31 AM on June 12


It's fascinating to me as a Sydneysider how much trouble "quay" gives. Circular
Quay is such a landmark here, I heard it and saw it written before I could read generally so it wasn't an issue. But then we read a book in year 5 about a "key" as in the little sandy island and we all wanted to spell it "quay" because oh ho, we weren't going to be fooled.

I remember my best friend laughing at me for saying "Persy-phone". I did think it was a weird name but so is my real name so who was I to judge?
posted by kitten magic at 3:52 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I'm so happy to learn other people see biopic and miniseries as rhyming with microscopic and miseries.
posted by lucidium at 4:10 AM on June 12


I know that Quai d'Orsay is a street in Paris that runs along the Seine (though I don't remember why I know that) but your comment, kitten magic, is the first time I've ever known of a named quay. Though of course, maybe I've heard people talking about all of them throughout my life and never realized I'd have been unsuccessful if I tried to write the names down.

Also: ♬I did it all for the Newquay♫
posted by XMLicious at 4:41 AM on June 12


XMLIcious, looking at that list I wanted to say "kway" for nearly all of them!

Circular Quay is kind of oblong shaped, that's the really confusing thing...
posted by kitten magic at 4:56 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


My friends in Bicester were quite amused when I visited them, and the place, for the first time. (It's pronounced 'bister', apparently.)
posted by entity447b at 7:20 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


In our house, one we keep up recreationally is debacle = de-BACK-el, which is somehow more satisfying to say when you're really describing things falling apart.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:35 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


...which reminds me of the Anastasia Krupnik book where she becomes a maid to a rich lady who refers to her crushing a silver spoon in the garbage disposal as "this debacle" and concludes that "debacle" must be the name of that type of fancy spoon.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:33 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


I honestly thought that was how debacle was pronounced until 30 seconds ago. Guh.
posted by mochapickle at 10:41 AM on June 12


How many other people learned they were mispronouncing a bunch of words in this thread? *raises hand*

We were awarded guardianship of our 5-year-old niece a couple weeks ago, and we're all adjusting to being a family of four. She has a LOT of mispronunciations (I think speech therapy might be in her future) and we sometimes gently correct her when we hear them. At dinner last night, my husband says to her, "I know it might seem like we're criticizing you when we tell you how to pronunciate words" and I had to be all "Pronounce!" and it was a very timely error because I could be like, "See? We all do it."

A bunch of mine have already been listed in this thread but the ones I don't think I've seen yet: deBRISS for debris and paNEER for pannier. I still don't know how to pronounce chevre so I say "goat cheese".
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:45 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


There was that time in middle school the word "cajole" came up on a list of vocabulary words. I'd never heard it before, and I must not have been paying attention to the pronunciation guide, because my born-and-raised-in-Los-Angeles self pronounced it as if it were Spanish, to rhyme with "frijole". Ca-HO-lay.
posted by wanderingmind at 2:30 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


I work in education and still cringe a bit ("Am I saying it wrong?") when I say pedagogy or pedagogical.
posted by zardoz at 2:39 PM on June 12


I got stuck on:

colonel (how is this "kernel" and not "col - OH - nel"???)
indict (I only realized a few years ago that this is "in-dite" and not "in-dict")
lingerie ("linger-ee")
Mikado ("mih-KAH-doh" and not "MICK-a-doo")
posted by belladonna at 2:49 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


For an embarrassingly long time, I thought sundried tomatoes were, you know, sundry tomatoes that had been dehydrated.
posted by scrump at 8:29 PM on June 12 [8 favorites]


I still don't know how to pronounce chevre so I say "goat cheese".

"SHEV" is close enough that few will bother you about it. "SHEV-rrrrrrr" where "rrrrrrr" is that back-of-the-throat gargly noise is the correct French pronunciation, but even that tends to get mutated into kind of a sigh. "SHEV-ruh" is an equally acceptable very American pronunciation.
posted by lazuli at 8:37 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Hah. The chEV[ruh] as opposed to chevrHEY! (wrong) conundrum is (in Sweden at least) not helped by that almost every restaurant here spells it with the accent on the wrong "e", and no matter whether rightly placed or not, often also inverted. Like chevré, chevrè or chévre (all wrong).
(but then, in Sweden they also write "restaurang" so you gotta cut them some slack i guess)
posted by Namlit at 9:46 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Hearth, as in "hearth and home." I got an embarrassing education playing World of Warcraft and referring to my "hurth" stone.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:14 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


shev-[wookiee noise]
posted by Sys Rq at 10:45 AM on June 13 [6 favorites]


We also have "KAH-ventry," which is Coventry when it isn't pronounced like a coven of witches

So you pronounce it correctly, is what you’re saying?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:52 AM on June 13


I've been watching YouTube clips of the Milwaukee Buck's absolutely spectacular Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it's amused me no end how few announcers are able to cope with his last name (I don't know how to pronounce it, either -- can anyone help me out?), but my favorite was one clip where Antetokounmpo performed a two handed tip jam over the back of a jumping opposing player who was between him and the basket and confidently expecting an easy rebound, yet without touching the opposing player at all, which really seemed beyond human capability, and the equally overmatched announcer burst out with "Alphabet jams it home!!"
posted by jamjam at 12:18 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


So are the animators The Brothers [kee] or The Brothers [kway]?

Kway
posted by Awkward Philip at 12:41 PM on June 13


But yeah, in the US Midwest, town names are highly likely to come from semi-literate Irish-German immigrants attempting to pronounce Anglicized versions of Francophone spellings of Algoquinian place names.

True. (The word is Algonquian, btw.)

But it’s not just in the French-just-long-enough-to-be-mapped-by-a-Frenchman midwest where French(-ish) gets mangled. Francophone-adjacent Maine and Vermont both pronounce Calais as “callous,” just like California has its decidedly unspanish Loss Feelisses and whatnot. And then there’s stuff that looks perfectly straightforward, like Cairo, Illinois...

I've been watching YouTube clips of the Milwaukee Buck's absolutely spectacular Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it's amused me no end how few announcers are able to cope with his last name (I don't know how to pronounce it, either -- can anyone help me out?

Antetokounmpo’s surname is, rather fascinatingly, an English transliteration of a Greek transliteration of an English transliteration of a Nigerian name. So, yeah, just sounding it out will not do, because modern Greek is kinda bananas. It takes some descrambling. The main thing is that modern Greek doesn’t have a real D, B, or U, since delta, beta, and upsilon long ago shifted to /th/, /v/, and /ee/; these sounds are therefore spelled “nt,” “mp,” and “ou,” respectively. And since putting another m before mp is awkward, they just go ahead and make that an n. Therefore, ANTETOKOUNMPO is ADETOKUMBO, which is pretty straightforward.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:17 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


And then there’s stuff that looks perfectly straightforward, like Cairo, Illinois...

And Cairo GA, a/k/a "Kay-ro".
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:15 PM on June 13


We had a great many "leftover" French placenames in Lower Alabama, which looked marvellous on signage, a la Bogue Chitto, but which local patois had evolved as "Boga Shitta," so I really provided an endless source of amusement to elders growing up. Turns out I'm now embarrassment proof and just roll with it.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:22 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


shev-[wookiee noise]

SO TEMPTED FOR SOCKPUPPET ACCOUNT NAME.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:23 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Oh, man. Red-faced flashbacks to very publicly mispronouncing facile (fasseel), peony (peeOHnee), infrared (inFRAIRd), and incunable (incunABbul). Ugghhh.
posted by infodiva at 12:09 AM on June 14


Wait have I and everyone I know been mispronouncing facile? Because that's how I've always heard it pronounced...
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:22 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Still think debacle should be deb-ə-cul.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:43 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


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