I Now Pronounce You Mangled by Kyff

Rob Kyff on

Here's a pronunciation quiz I'd fail miserably. That's because it comprises eight words I've always mispronounced.

Can you show up the Word Guy by choosing the correct pronunciation?

1. fungi -- A. FUN-guy (hard "g") B. FUN-juy (soft "g")

2. aeolian -- A. ee-OH-lee-uhn B. ay-OH-lee-uhn

3. flaccid -- A. FLAK-sid B. FLAS-id

4. hauteur -- A. haw-TUR B. hoh-TUR

5. redolent -- A. RED-oh-lint B. RED'l-int

6. homage -- A. HAHM-ij B. AHM-ij

7. mauve -- A. MAWV B. MOHV

8. ye (meaning "the") -- A. YEE B. THUH (or THEE)


1. B. FUN-juy. Even though we all joked in biology class that a mushroom was a "fun guy," the "g" in "fungi" is soft, as in "fungicide."


2. A. ee-OH-lee-uhn. Classicists insist that the Greek-Latin ligature "ae" be rendered "ee," as in "aegis" (EE-jis) and "algae" (AL-jee), as well as many other words ending in "ae."

3. A. FLAK-sid. Perhaps because "flaccid" means "weak, limp," I've always pronounced it with a soft "s" sound rather than a hard "k," but now I take flak for this.

4. B. hoh-TUR. Because the French-derived "hauteur" means "haughtiness," I've mistakenly pronounced it with the "haw" sound of "haughty." (Some purists preserve the original French sound by dropping the initial "h" sound: "oh-TUR.")

5. B. RED'l-int. "Redolent," which means "emitting an aromatic smell," evokes a wafting, lingering odor. Maybe that's why I've always given it a longer, three-syllable pronunciation.

6. A. HAHM-ij. "Homage" was pronounced without the initial "h" sound well into the 1700s, but in recent centuries "HAHM-ij" has become the preferred articulation.

7. B. MOHV. The traditional rendering for this purple-toned color is "MOHV." While "MAWV" has been gaining in popularity, the pronunciation police still cuff it like a purp ... er, perp.

8. B. THUH. or THEE "Ye," the archaic form of the article "the," as in "Ye Olde Bake Shoppe," is often mispronounced because it's confused with the archaic second person pronoun "ye," (YEE), as in "I say unto ye."

In Old and Middle English, the "th" sound was represented by a now extinct letter called "thorn." But, because early English printers imported their type from Continental Europe, they had no letter to represent thorn, so they used a "y" instead because it resembled thorn. This makeshift substitution gave us the spelling "ye," pronounced "THUH" or "THEE."

Perhaps those crafty printers were playing Game of Thorns.


Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Conn., invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via email to or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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