Ahoy there me mateys! Though I don’t do weekly wrap-up posts meself (too lazy), I very much enjoy reading those written by the crew. Matey Nicki @ secretlibrarybookblog does a links round-up where I particularly enjoy the “Other Links” section due to the miscellaneous treasure she finds for me. Recently she linked to “The Guardian – Words We Think We Know, But Can’t Pronounce: The Curse of the Avid Reader.” And of course what reader hasn’t suffered this issue? I went on an adventure and thought mehaps the crew would enjoy it as much as I did.
So I of course started with the Guardian article. That reader seemed very embarrassed by her mispronunciations. I tend to find mine to be rather fascinating and hysterical in retrospect. Did you know that awry is one of the most mispronounced words in the English language? Well I have no problems with that one. A word that I still read incorrectly every single time is “quay.” I pronounce it as “kehway.” It wasn’t until I read an Irish book that used it in a joke that I learned the real pronunciation. The joke didn’t make sense (and I wanted to get it) until I learned that the word is said “key” from the French word meaning wharf. I am still surprised at how much I read this random word, how I still misread it as “kehway” always, and how I chuckle every time I do.
The Guardian article was fun but light on the examples. Luckily it referred me to the “New York Public Library’s – Words That Reader’s Can’t Say.” This had a list pulled from the expert readers – the librarians themselves! So here be a short list of the words that both they and meself find difficult:
- brooch – “brohch” NOT “broo-ch” though technically ye can say it the second way
- antimacassar – “an-ti-me-ka-ser” NOT “anti-mack-ah-sar” a word I didn’t even know existed much less how to say
- sergeant – “sar-gent” NOT “sir-gent”
- wyvern – “why-vern” NOT “weh-vern”
I also took NYPL’s pronunciation quiz and scored 6 out of 7 with “terpischore” being the problem (Greek muse of dance i.e. “terp-i-shore”). Also if ye click on the word in the article, it will take ye to a page where ye can listen to the pronunciation. Awesome! All others on their list I can say but I do see where they would be tough. Like Socrates (NOT “so-crates) or inchoate (NOT “inch-o-ate.” There are also problem words that are not on this list. I can’t never read (or say) colonel. I say “co-lone-el” when it should be “kernel” and aye, I had to look it up AGAIN.
Then the last fascinating stop dealt with another reader problem – how do ye pronounce those tricky author names? One of me favourite authors whose name ties me tongue in knots (“nots” NOT “ka-nots”) is Paolo Bacigalupi. Luckily there is a website called Teaching Books which offers an author and illustrator pronunciation guide of 2,758 people who not only tell ye how to say their names but tell ye fun background about the history of those names. Wonder how to say Eoin Colfer or Chieri Uegaki. Wonder no more.
As a lover of words, I don’t mind being corrected for any mispronunciation I might make. Reading a word but not knowing how to speak it goes right up there with knowing the different meanings of two similar words but not being able to explain to others why they are different. And those same people insist those words mean the same thing like “idiot” vs “fool.” But that is another problem for another day. Arrrrrr!
Q: Why don’t pirates drive on mountain roads?
Hardy har har!
x The Captain
Side note: The First Mate insists on saying Antigone as “An-ti-go-nay!” even though he knows it is wrong. He says, “It’s just more fun that way.”
I order y’all to share yer favourite mispronounciations in the comments. ARRR!