Monday, May 17, 2010

~there's no ekscaping these common mispronunciations

some of these are more common than others, but the words that really get me (in an engineering atmosphere) are 'acrost' and 'heighth'.

the etymology of the fake word 'heighth' is not too hard to imagine as several dimension qualifiers follow a similar pattern:

deep -> depth; wide -> width; long -> length; yet high -> height?

it would make some sense if height had an 'h' on the end, but it does not.

acrost is more difficult to pin down. the correct word to use is across and my theory is that the past tense of 'cross' in the example sentence 'we crossed the river' gets applied to across (i.e. 'we went acrossed the river') and it is pronounced as acrost.

several language blogs point out that this word has been in use for centuries (this is their proof that it is a real word) by high profile writers like mark twain and john steinbeck. i disregard these examples because the authors (in the adventures huckleberry finn and the grapes of wrath, respectively) are purposely using poor grammar from the voice of the narrator.

merriam-webster online has an entry listed for acrost, but it is not available unless you have a premium account, and my trusty hardcopy has no listing for acrost.

here is my list of some other chronically mispronounced words:
  • else/eltse
  • nuclear/nucular
  • both/bolth
  • supposedly/supposibly
  • drowning/drownding
those with phantom x's or other x trouble:
  • espresso/expresso
  • especially/ekspecially
  • exit/eggzit
  • asterisk/asterix
and several with mispronounced vowels:
  • pillow/pellow
  • milk/melk
what common mispronunciations drive you nuts?

1 comment:

  1. I had a college professor who loved the phantom X. Several times through her daily lecture she would say "excetra" in lieu of "et cetera."