See something, say something

Gene Weingarten on

Pronunciation error: "Divissive" instead of "divisive."

Notable perpetrator: Barack Obama.

Elaboration: Something that is "divisive" is something that "divides." Though some American dictionaries accept Obama's mangling as a secondary pronunciation, the Oxford English makes it quite clear: "-ide" verbs, like divide, take the long "i" sound when made into adjectives. And "-mit" verbs, like "admit," take the short "i" sound. Period.

Pronunciation error: "Tan-ZAY-nia" instead of Tanza-NEE-ya, "Nambia," instead of "Namibia" and "Beyonsee" instead of Beyonce.

Only known perpetrator: Donald Trump.

Elaboration: Unnecessary.

Pronunciation error: "Liberry" instead of "library."

Main perpetrators: They are legion, but I am going to go with a librarian who worked at a newspaper for which I once worked. For unfathomable reasons, management had this person answering the phones in the library. "Liberry" she would say, loudly, 70 times a day. Everyone was too polite to correct her.

Elaboration: Interestingly, some dictionaries now define "liberry" as a "nonstandard" pronunciation, which is the first step toward acceptance. That same thing happened many years ago with "Feb-you-erry," an appalling pronunciation that began as "nonstandard." It had been pronounced as it was spelled since the 11th century, until the mid-20th century when the lazy American tongue dropped the R. "Febyooerry," which makes no linguistic sense at all, is now the preferred pronunciation. Tragically, "liberry" may not be far behind.

Pronunciation errors: "Vetinarian," instead of "veterinarian," "ampitheater," instead of "amphitheater," "opthamologist" instead of "ophthalmologist" and "cran" instead of "crayon."


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


Dilbert Mother Goose & Grimm Baby Blues Dog Eat Doug Signe Wilkinson Andy Capp