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Gene Weingarten on

WASHINGTON -- I recently ran into trouble for pointing out a misspelling online. It surprised me because I've been doing that sort of thing for years without blowback -- mostly to mock conservatives bearing idiot signs. ("Respect Are Country: Speak English," "Obama Half-Breed Muslin," "1 Man + 1 Woman (equal sign) Marridge.") But last month, when I made the same sort of comment about someone with a sign protesting "misogny," I got my head handed to me by fellow liberals. They informed me that it is snobbish and obnoxious and pedantic and prescriptive and elitist and outrageous to make fun of someone whose message is so earnest and inarguably correct.

So I've learned my lesson. Today, I am not going to make fun of misspellings. I am going to make fun of mispronunciations.

I have been keeping track of sins of articulation for years, more than a few of them perpetrated by my good friend and editor, Tom the Butcher. But Tom warned me in advance that he is not going to sit idly by while I trash him in this column, and that's fair enough. I will not henceforth be mentioning him. Fortunately, I have another good friend and editor, Thaddeus Aloysius Pinochle, who makes the identical errors.

Here goes. See how many of these you recognize.

Pronunciation error: "Negoseeayshun" instead of "negotiation."

Prime perpetrators: TV talking heads, practically the entire well-toothed posse of them.

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Elaboration: There is no "c" or "s" in "negotiation." There is no excuse, or even a phony rationale, for pronouncing it that way other than some haughty sense that it sounds more erudite, the way some people will snottily pronounce the "t" in "often."

Pronunciation error: "Ree-diculous" instead of "ridiculous."

Prime perpetrators: A quarter of the American populace, particularly when expressing indignation at an accusation deemed baseless.

Elaboration: Same as above. Defend sticking an eee sound in there. I dare you.


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