One of the occupational hazards of being a reader is using a word in speech that one has read silently and stumbling in the pronunciation of said word. There’s nothing like saying a word with confidence but incompetence, watching the listener screw up their face either in confusion or laughter, hearing the illuminating correction and having a hearty laugh at yourself.
One of the joys of listening to books read on Librivox is catching an ‘oops’ from the mouth of their lovely volunteer readers. I laugh out loud when ‘the patience of Job’ is pronounced like a wage earner. One of the joys of listening to professionally produced books on tape is catching one of my own mistakes. “Oh, is that how you say it?”
My last name is commonly mispronounced. Before “No Call”, I was tipped off to telemarketers by the botched pronunciation. The grocery store clerks who look at the receipt and say “Thank you, Miz ________” make me laugh too.
And for those who care: Magistra Mater is Mah-GEE(hard G)-struh MAH-tair Think “TEA with MaGEEstra.”
Wodehouse – it’s supposed to rhyme with wood
Cowper – sounds like Cooper
Goethe – my SIL’s mother quoted Goethe and pronounced it GO-eth.
Isak Dinesen – for years, in my mind I said DINE-sen,
Camus – it is not CAY-mus, it’s caMOO
Dumas – another French name to trip you up: dooMAH
Keats and Yeats – wah, wah they don’t rhyme! KEETS and YATES
Edinburgh – it looks like it should end with a burg, right? Not! ED-in-BURR-a
primer – long i when it’s paint. But if it’s a book of elementary information
Orion – there was confusion when I said ORion instead of ohRYAN
vegan – hard and soft g’s trip me up all the time.
bade – the past tense of bid is pronounced BAD – forget the silent e
victual – doesn’t it look like VICK-shoe-ol? Nah, it’s pronounced VITtle
jihad – not that long ago I said JIE-had. Ouch!
Oopses from Others
xylophone – my son thought this was pronounced ex-CELL-a-PHONE
roughage – one former boss gave this a French twist, saying ROO-ahzj
chihuahua – a friend’s husband said chih-WHO-ah-WHO-ah
synecdoche – William Safire wrote about Jerry Brown (remember him?)
I’ve run out of time to ponder and remember my favorites.
Help me out, would you? Correct my corrections, if need be.
What words have you or yours mispronounced?