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#26 2007-12-10 22:35:47

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Nah, Nebraska is the suburb. My dad, who grew up in Hastings, used to say, “When people from Nebraska want excitement, they go to Iowa.”

I think if I ever heard “door” for “dour,” I’d have thought it was Scottish.

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#27 2008-05-20 00:22:18

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

I was truly embarrassed as an older adult to discover that annihilate (US: an-EYE-ill-ate) and annihilate (UK: AN-hill-ate) are the same word. Also, I was surprised to find out that aluminium and aluminum are actually two different words, but they both still have 13 protons!

Last edited by rogerthat (2008-05-20 00:24:11)

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#28 2008-05-20 13:25:09

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

rogerthat, I’ve never encountered anyone using anything other than the pronunciation you reserve for the US – am I missing something here? I’m also a little puzzled about the supposed difference between aluminium and aluminum – surely it was Webster who simply removed the ‘i’ from aluminium while changing spellings, thereby ensuring it no longer rhymed with most of the other elements in the periodic table?

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#29 2008-05-24 00:33:59

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Peter, Thank you. I was hoping for an official UK response. I don’t think you’re missing anything here. I’m beginning to realize that someone, who shall remain nameless was pulling my leg about the UK pronunciation of annihilate and I would’ve never caught on without your help. So, I’ll consider my personal mystery annihilation case closed. I’ll use your highly plausible theory about Webster removing the ‘i’ from aluminium to get even with nameless, if you don’t mind.

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#30 2008-05-24 16:54:25

Rick Aster
Member
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 16

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

There were thousands of words I learned by reading them, mainly between the ages of 5 and 10, and I initially mispronounced a good fraction of them, often for no good reason. These are a few that come to mind:

At first I pronounced the “p” in “epithet” as an “f.” I must have been influenced by some other word that starts with “ep” (and perhaps I grabbed the “h” from later in the word).

I knew not to say the “p” in “pseudonym,” but I put the accent on the second syllable.

I had a hard time learning to say “pronunciation” so there was a period in which I usually said it as “pronounce” “ation.”

Some of them were just sloppy—I was a speed reader and could easily miss details. I was saying “magnaminious” for years (though, to be fair, probably just 10 or 20 times) until I looked more closely and saw that it was “magnanimous.”

A similar problem occurred when I read “Panama” as “Panamania,” and here surely I was being influenced by “Panamanian” and “Patagonia.” I got this wrong in spite of having no trouble saying “Panama hat.”

I said “ingenious” without the second “i” for a couple of years and I actually got a few of my friends doing this too.

For Tom Neely, “misCHEEveeous” was a character in the Naked Gun movies, and for those not-so-common words, a single popular culture reference can have a big influence.

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#31 2008-05-27 11:31:21

AdamVero
Eggcornista
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2007-09-04
Posts: 58
Website

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

@RogerThat / Peter Forster – I agree that annEYEillate is the pronunciation I would expect in the UK

As for aluminum, I am sure I read somewhere that this “US” spelling dates back further than the “UK” -ium spelling which was introduced to be more like lots of other elements with this similar ending at a much later date, but the US version simply survived without alteration.

At school ad about 13 I was the unlucky one who got to read the page of Catcher in the Rye where the word “whore” appears – which I pronounced like which and where to sound like “wore” rather than “hore”. Much to the enjoyment and laughter of my worldly-wise colleagues. In the same book one of my classmates simply could not read the phrase “opulent widow”. The word “opulent” was making him think too much so he kept saying “window” and could not get it unstuck. It must have taken about a dozen retries of “opulent window” before he finally got it right.


Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will buy a ridiculous hat – Scott Adams (author of Dilbert)
Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life – Terry Pratchett
http://blog.meteorit.co.uk

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#32 2008-05-27 14:25:51

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

And I’ve been blaming poor Webster for decades – thanks for the prompt, Adam. Try this from Wikipedia on the nameless, Roger…

Nomenclature history
The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary for any word used as a name for this element is alumium, which Humphry Davy employed in 1808 for the metal he was trying to isolate electrolytically from the mineral alumina. The citation is from his journal Philosophical Transactions: “Had I been so fortunate as..to have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium.”[25]
By 1812, Davy had settled on aluminum, which, as other sources note,[citation needed] matches its Latin root. He wrote in the journal Chemical Philosophy: “As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state.”[26] But the same year, an anonymous contributor to the Quarterly Review, a British political-literary journal, objected to aluminum and proposed the name aluminium, “for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound.”[27]
The -ium suffix had the advantage of conforming to the precedent set in other newly discovered elements of the time: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and strontium (all of which Davy had isolated himself). Nevertheless, -um spellings for elements were not unknown at the time, as for example platinum, known to Europeans since the sixteenth century, molybdenum, discovered in 1778, and tantalum, discovered in 1802.
Americans adopted -ium to fit the standard form of the periodic table of elements, for most of the nineteenth century, with aluminium appearing in Webster’s Dictionary of 1828. In 1892, however, Charles Martin Hall used the -um spelling in an advertising handbill for his new electrolytic method of producing the metal, despite his constant use of the -ium spelling in all the patents22 he filed between 1886 and 1903.[28] It has consequently been suggested that the spelling reflects an easier to pronounce word with one fewer syllable, or that the spelling on the flier was a mistake. Hall’s domination of production of the metal ensured that the spelling aluminum became the standard in North America; the Webster Unabridged Dictionary of 1913, though, continued to use the -ium version.
In 1926, the American Chemical Society officially decided to use aluminum in its publications; American dictionaries typically label the spelling aluminium as a British variant.
[edit]Present-day spelling
In the UK and other countries using British spelling, only aluminium is used. In the United States, the spelling aluminium is largely unknown, and the spelling aluminum predominates.[29][30] The Canadian Oxford Dictionary prefers aluminum, whereas the Australian Macquarie Dictionary prefers aluminium. The spelling in virtually all other languages is analogous to the -ium ending.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) adopted aluminium as the standard international name for the element in 1990, but three years later recognized aluminum as an acceptable variant. Hence their periodic table includes both, but places aluminium first.[31] IUPAC officially prefers the use of aluminium in its internal publications, although several IUPAC publications use the spelling aluminum.[32]
[edit]

The word ‘whore’ I first encountered by ear and it was pronounced either ‘hoor’ or ‘hoe-er’. I chose the latter and, assuming it referred to a serf or peasant who laboured on the land with a hoe, used it to describe males who worked in agricultural settings. It didn’t take long to realise my mistake.

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#33 2008-06-02 23:23:15

fpberger
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 130

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

The childhood mispronunciation I remember most clearly is HOR-i-zone for horizon, which got a lot of giggles from the classroom. I think I was a few years younger when I read “micro-bobs” for microbes. And in fifth grade I spent a day looking at the word hors d’oeuvres and pronouncing it “Horse doovers” even though I was perfectly familiar with appetizers being called (to my ear) “orderves”

I found that my husband and his two adult siblings had all somehow gotten into their thirties pronouncing the word “ludicrous” as if it had a final t. (Ludicrist)

I grew up in California and always heard dour pronounced like dower.

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#34 2008-06-03 15:47:34

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Welcome, fpberger….

I always mispronounced horizon too! Only I pronounced it HOR-i-zonn, which a short “O” sound. (I must have patterned it after horiZONtal.) I had forgotten about that one.


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#35 2008-06-04 02:55:49

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

I can second fpberger’s testimony about the pronunciation of “dour” as “dower” here in California. In fact, I first heard an American use the Scottish “dooh-r” pronunciation just a few years ago, and it struck me as so odd and affected in an American that I definitely noticed it. Sure, the word has Scottish origins. But that’s never stopped us from changing the standard pronunciations of many thousands of words to suit our own dialects/times. And it shouldn’t. Nevertheless, Merriam Webster—the standard American dictionary—lists “dow-er” as only the second pronunciation. This strikes me as unlikely; I really think far more Americans use it than the British version. And I’ve often felt that there’s an occasional Britocentric bias built into the MW pronunciation guide.

This is slightly off the thread topic, but all this has led me to think about how I first pronounced “sugar” as “shur-gur” when I was a kid. I took enough grief for it growing up (and for saying “bayg” for “bag” and “beg,” and “pin” for “pin” and “pen,” and many many others) that I’ve consciously altered my pronunciation over time. But I occasionally hear other adults say “shur-gur,” and right now “blood surgar” by itself gets over 4000 raw hits—I’m hardly alone.

Neither the OED nor MW lists this pronunciation that must be used by many thousands of Americans, and I often often wonder just what—in the eyes of dictionary editors—constitutes the cut-off point for listing “minority” pronunciations like these. I remember a number of occasions when someone looked in a dictionary and told me that my pronunciation of a certain word was wrong because my variant wasn’t listed. Today I know a good deal more about dialectal and idiolectal variants than I did as a kid, and anyone who starts wagging a finger of correction in my particular direction is likely to get an earful. Of course, we can’t expect mainstream, workhorse dictionaries to take notice of the huge range of dialectal variation in English. But I also can’t help but think that some of our standard dictionaries have built-in class and dialect biases that need more thought, or at least more discussion.

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#36 2008-06-04 21:13:21

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Roughly half of my first grade class (including me) had trouble pronouncing the word spaghetti. We were among the early guinea pigs for experimental phonics instruction. Our teacher, a serious matronly woman would say, “Say spa!” We replied, “Spa!” Then she would say, “Say get!” We replied, “Get!” Then she would say, “Say tea!” We replied, “Tea!” Then she would say, “Alright. Now, say spaghetti!” In all seriousness, we blurted out, “Basketti!” She would then patiently repeat the process with the same result. I don’t know why so many of us had such difficulty with this particular word. By the time we were in the second grade, most of us could say “spaghetti.” But, a few of my class mates had to resort to a newly invented word: “sketti.” Does any of this sound familiar?

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#37 2008-06-04 22:09:25

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Roger, ‘basketti’ is equally popular in all the areas of the UK I’m familiar with – but why? I wonder what the mechanism is that renders ‘spag’ as ‘bask’? (Incidentally, did any of your class pronounce ‘breakfast’ as ‘breffkiss’?)

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#38 2008-06-05 08:47:06

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Peter, I haven’t personally heard ‘breffkiss’ used in lieu of the ‘breakfast’. However, my wife does recall hearing ‘breffkiss’ from the lips of a child. It sounds quite reasonable to me that a child could make a substitution like that and be correctly understood. I tried google and received a total of 11 hits for ‘breffkiss’ or ‘brefkiss’ related to ‘breakfast’.

Your kind mention of ‘breffkiss’ and great mechanism question motivated me to ponder this phonics phenomenon in the reverse sense. I would like to propose a partially-baked theory about why we can readily understand childish substitutions like these (“approxonyms?”). Could it be that listening cognition involves some sort of heuristic that is more flexible than a strict comparison? For example, ‘breffkiss’ starts and almost ends with the correct consonant sounds and has the correct interior consonant sounds (though permuted). Also, the vowels approximately rhyme with the correct sounds in ordered sequence with the same accents and number of syllables. Assuming the listener has no direct memory association (or internalized “dictionary entry”) for ‘breffkiss,’ then ‘breakfast’ will have the highest heuristic score (or next closest match) for a given grammatical context.

Is it possible that this same cognitive heuristic mechanism might enable us to better understand word fragments in noisy environments, over degraded telephone connections and the like? I’m not sure where linguistic redundancy fits into this schema for I’m not a linguist.

Sorry, this doesn’t address your original question about the mechanism that renders ‘spag’ as ‘bask’. It’s a really good question. I fruitlessly thought about cognitive retroactive interference from the unusual ‘etti’ syllable. Even though the reverse sense listener’s mechanism initially seemed to be a more tractable problem for me to consider, I don’t have the slightest idea how to go about testing my proposal. So, please don’t laugh. It must be the ‘basketti’ and meat bulbs I ate for ‘breffkiss’ talking.

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#39 2008-06-09 19:30:04

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

To respond to the “basketti” question: I have heard kids say “sketti” instead of spaghetti. Maybe the “ba” comes about when they realize that there are three syllables but have trouble switching their pronunciation of the second two syllables. Kids do very odd things with pronunciations that don’t seem to follow any discernible logic. I knew two young boys who consistently pronounced “hamburger” as “hangaburger” with a hard G sound.

These last couple of postings do raise an interesting twist to the previous discussion on this thread, and that is how much a child’s nonstandard pronunciation in general comes into play when “sightreading” new words that are understood but whose real pronunciation is unknown. In other words, does the child’s actual pronunciation habits or tendencies (esp. those caused by a speech difficulty) cross over into the internal (mind) pronunciation?

Incidentally, and off topic: rogerthat, what part of Colorado are you in?


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#40 2008-06-10 17:15:19

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

JonW719 wrote:

To respond to the “basketti” question: I have heard kids say “sketti” instead of spaghetti. Maybe the “ba” comes about when they realize that there are three syllables but have trouble switching their pronunciation of the second two syllables. Kids do very odd things with pronunciations that don’t seem to follow any discernible logic.

There is a logic, though it may only be discernible if you observe a large enough cohort of children.

Some consonant clusters (two or three consonants in a row) are relatively difficult to pronounce. During first language acquisition, it is common for kids to resolve this difficulty via metathesis, reordering the sequence of sounds.

Thus, the /spə/ syllable is reordered as /pəs/, yielding /pəskεti/ (and of course, /p/ becomes /b/ if you voice it). Peter’s breakfast /brεfkəs/ is a similar metathesis, perhaps motivated either by ease of pronunciation or by greater familiarity with /fk/ versus /kf/.

Adults make use of metathesis too, as with prescription /pərskripšən/. This is probably a frequency/familiarity effect, since we don’t hear practice /parktıs/ or product /pərdukt/. On the other hand, ask /æks/ may have been motivated by ease of pronunciation, eventually becoming accepted or typical in some dialects.

Kids pronunciation of hamburger as /hæŋgəbər/ may also involve metathesis (the hard G moves from the end to the middle of the word), but there’s also a substitution of /ŋgə/ for /mbər/. Note that ŋ and g are both velar (pronounced by closing the velum at the back of the mouth) and m and b are both labial (pronounced by closing the lips), suggesting assimilation.

-Chad (currently in Boulder)

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#41 2008-06-11 14:20:41

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Wow, that was interesting! I am by no means a linguist, but it seems quite a few folk here are or at least have studied linguistics.

Related to “mind” pronunciation, do kids know they mispronounce these words, or do they believe themselves to be pronouncing things correctly? Likewise, when they read silently, would they pronounce, for example, “hamburger” as “hangaburger” in their minds?

On a side note, I’d be curious to know how many of our regular participants have some background in lingusistics, how many (like me) work with words in other fields (editor here), and how many simply love words and find eggcorns fascinating.
—Jon (in Colo. Springs).

Last edited by JonW719 (2008-06-11 14:45:02)


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#42 2008-06-11 17:42:25

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Of course it’s not possible to know what’s going on inside another person’s mind, but kids to seem to intend ‘correct’ pronunciations. For example, if you mimic a child’s pronunciation, she or he will very often try to correct you. The result is often unintentionally hilarious: “No, not ‘hangaber,’ hangaber!”

Does this mean they don’t know they mispronounce the words whose mispronunciation they correct? Maybe – maybe it’s similar to confabulation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confabulation

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#43 2008-06-11 20:08:35

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Thank you Jon and Chad. I think Chad’s ‘basketti’ syllabic analysis is a darn good answer to Peter’s original elegantly stated question (”- but why?”). I must admit that Chad’s metathetical explanation definitely trumps my musing about possible cognitive retroactive interference from the relatively unusual ‘etti’ suffix. [Incidentally, metathesis is yet another word that I mispronounced (as “meta-thesis”) well into adulthood.]

After several days of incubation on my partially-baked heuristic conjecture, I’m beginning to think that the heuristic does not apply directly to human associative cognition. I borrowed the heuristic concept from computer science to describe a logical process (analogous to a spelling checker) that loosely parallels only one aspect of human associative cognition. I suppose I was subconsciously trying to design a non-associative sequential process that “comprehends” what a kid might say rather than describe how adult humans quite naturally just “get it” without too much effort. Note that Eggcorn Forum poster tnadasdi has been exploring eggcorn grammar checkers in a more general sense.

Just for kicks, at the risk of shooting a dead horse, I tested a spelling checker with ‘basketti’ and ‘brefkiss’. ‘Basketti’ yielded the following suggestions: basket, basketry, basked and biscotti. Similarly, ‘Brefkiss’ yielded: breaks, briefness, briefcase, breakers and brickies (‘brickies’?). No surprise that neither spaghetti nor breakfast were suggested. However, biscotti and breakers did seem curiously close. If the designer of the spell check heuristic had taken metathesis into account, surely spaghetti and breakfast would have been on the suggestion menu. All of this now seems very far afield of Chad’s more straight forward pedagogical linguistics approach. Thanks for humoring my inside-out thinking as I struggle to reclaim my brain from an extensive back-clog of incomplete linguistic experiences. Wow, a neuroscience blog advertisement just popped up on my screen!

Off topic: Jon, I’m in Denver.

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#44 2008-06-11 21:17:07

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

In a dissimilar vein, a long time ago, we were baby sitting a rather charming and precocious three year old girl. She was starting to act up, so I said to her, “Now, behave!” To which she immediately exclaimed, “I’m being haved!” [with a long-/a/]. As you can imagine, we were simply floored at the time. Today, I got ghits( “being haved” ) = 219. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the UK has heard a creative child say the same thing. Does this hysterical and relatively rare mis-usage qualify as a member of the innovation category?

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#45 2008-06-12 16:27:18

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

I think I’ve heard “I’m being haved!”

It makes perfect sense, in fact, it could spring into an eggcorn.

I too have heard, “No, not ‘hangeber,’ hangeber!”

They know what they hear—it’s not a perception problem. It’s an “I can’t make my mouth put those sounds together in that order” problem.

But it cracks me up that they must run some sort of filter on their own pronunciation of the word, and hear what they meant to say, instead of what they did say.

And from pasketti to basketti is simple; the b sounds comes before the p, usually.

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#46 2008-06-14 18:41:48

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Thanks for your encouragement, TootsNYC. I’ll go ahead and post “being haved” in the Contribute! meeting. Do you think I should delete my post on this topic from ‘Slips, innovations and reshapings’ ?

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#47 2008-06-15 02:35:59

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1762
Website

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Interesting discussion. I’ve been guilty of several of the above: the verb misle (which is pronounced with a “long” i and an s, not with a short i and a z, as if it were spelt mizzled) was one of the longest-lived. (Which, by the way, is pronounced with a long i as well: it is derived from the noun life, like broadleaved from leaf, rather than from the verb live. Or so I have recently decided.) Anyhow…

nilep (=hanging Chad?) wrote:

Adults make use of metathesis too, as with prescription /pərskripšən/. This is probably a frequency/familiarity effect, since we don’t hear practice /parktıs/ or product /pərdukt/. On the other hand, ask /æks/ may have been motivated by ease of pronunciation, eventually becoming accepted or typical in some dialects.

The (lack of) stress on the first syllable is important in the examples you chose. Practice and product have their first syllable stressed, and we are more careful of our pronunciations, and so preserve more contrasts, in stressed syllables. Perduction [pər“dəkʃn̩] is a very common pronunciation for production, perserve for preserve, and so on. Frequency effects and style registers certainly fit in to the picture too, however. I’m more likely to say perscribe than perserve because prescribe (in medical contexts) is a more “colloquial” word for me than preserve. (I eat jam, not preserves, on my toast.)

A professor of mine had cats named Metathesis and Haplology. We used to say that they should have been named Methatesis and Haplogy.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#48 2008-06-16 03:26:23

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

Chad has really opened up my ears. I seem to hear metathesis everywhere I listen. One of my all time favorite examples of dialectic metathesis is ‘baksetball’. In the 1975 musical animation short, “Basketball Jones” by Cheech & Chong it sounds to me like they occasionally sing, “Bassetball Jones,” but it is hard to tell for certain. Here’s a link to the [R-rated] amusing period piece, if you’re interested:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIbp5C-5WXM

Last edited by rogerthat (2008-06-16 06:42:26)

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#49 2008-06-16 22:13:39

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

I only needed to be corrected once for mispronouncing the word nuclear in front of my high school physics classmates. I listened intently to hear how George W. Bush pronounces nuclear. Lo, he gets it right! Has anybody else noticed ‘nucular’ for ‘nuclear’?

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#50 2008-06-17 02:28:14

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1762
Website

Re: Things you read and understood but mispronounced in your mind

“Nucular” is quite standard in some parts of the country. People are not much more likely to say “new-klee-ar” than they are to say “wed-nes-day” instead of “Wensdy” or “off-ten” instead of “offen”.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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