Epenthesis, velarisation and other things I didn’t know I did

by Richard on March 11, 2014

The Guardian: 8 pronunciation errors that made the English language what it is today

We’ve all been there. I still lapse into mis-CHEE-vous if I’m not concentrating. This week some PR whizzes working for a railway station with an unusual name unveiled the results of a survey into frequently garbled words. The station itself is routinely confused with an endocrine gland about the size of a carrot (you can see why they hired PRs). Researchers also found that 340 of the 1000 surveyed said ex-cetera instead of etcetera, while 260 ordered ex-pressos instead of espressos. Prescription came out as perscription or proscription 20% of the time.

The point is malapropisms and mispronunciations are fairly common. The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary lists 171,476 words as being in common use. But the average person’s vocabulary is tens of thousands smaller, and the number of words they use every day smaller still. There are bound to be things we’ve read or are vaguely familiar with, but not able to pronounce as we are supposed to.

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Kim 03.12.14 at 9:56 am

Thanks, Mr. Hall. Is that “hall” as in “haul”, as in “long haul”, or perhaps “hal” as in “HAL 9000″, the artificial intelligence in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or even “howl”, as in “howl at the moon” (as some visitors have been known to do on this here blog)? Just asking. ;)

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