Written Rambles 7 Words That You Might Be Mispronouncing Tyler Vendetti

During my junior year of high school, I made a presentation in English class about Huckleberry Finn in which I pronounced the word “colonel” as “call-o-nell” at least 20 times. I won’t go into the sheer embarrassment I felt upon learning this fact, nor will I launch into an angry tirade about the fact that colonel doesn’t even have an “R” and yet, it is pronounced “kernel.” (Although, if you did want to read about it, I would direct you to this other HelloGiggles article I wrote back in the day…shameless self-promotion.) However, no one can stop me from focusing on the slightly larger subject of mispronunciation, which is very near and dear to my heart (which is to say, it plagues my life on a day to day basis). Some terms that may seem so simple on the outside are actually designed to embarrass you in public.

(NOTE: English has changed over time. I’m not saying anyone who uses such terms should be burned at the stake. I’m merely listing the original pronunciations for these terms and comparing them to how they’re said now, for funzies.)

Mischievous (adj.): showing a playful desire to cause trouble

How you may pronounce it: Mis-chee-vee-us
Actual pronunciation: Mis-chi-vus

I’ve always pronounced mischievous the first way, and I will continue to do so for the sole reason that it fits more with the actual definition. Saying “mischievous” with a long “e” sound sparks images in my mind of an evil dictator tapping his fingers together and belting out a nefarious laugh. It just sounds better. But if you look closely at the spelling of the word, such a pronunciation doesn’t really make sense.  There’s no “i” after the “v” and there isn’t an added syllable. Whoever started this trend was intentionally trying to stir trouble.

Crêpe (n.): a very thin type of pancake made from wheat flour

How you may pronounce it: krep, creep
Actual pronunciation: kray-pe

If you learn anything from this post, let it be this: crêpe without the unfinished triangle over the “e” means “a light, thin fabric with a wrinkled surface” and is hopefully not something you wrap delicious berries and Nutella in. Also, more importantly, it is pronounced “kray-pe,” like “grape” but with a “c” or “cape” with an “r” or like “mandrake” but with only one “a” plus some other letters.

Flaccid (adj.): soft and hanging loosely or limply, esp. so as to look or feel unpleasant

How you may pronounce it: flass-id
Actual pronunciation: flak-sid

Let me preface this entry by saying most dictionaries nowadays have come to accept “flass-id” as an acceptable, if not the most acceptable, pronunciation. However, the double “c” was meant to sound like a “k” (think “accident” or “ack-ci-dent”). The popularity of the movie Lake Placid brought the pronunciation of “flaccid” as similar to “acid” into circulation. (A total lie. I just wanted an excuse to show off my knowledge of terrible B-movies.)

Oregon (n.): a U.S. state that has an awesome computer game named after it

How you may pronounce it: Or-eh-gone
Actual pronunciation: Or-a-gun

As far as I know, the only people who have a problem with this pronunciation are people from Oregon, but in the off-chance that you meet one of these said mythical beings, here is your ticket out of getting verbally assaulted. Though the “gon” at the end of this word may spark memories of polygons from your high school geometry class, the “o” actually sounds more like a “u” in this case. Just imagine someone is holding out Oregon in one hand and a gun in another and they’re explaining the situation like “Do you want Oregon? Or a gun?” The second option is the correct pronunciation of the first.

Banal (adj.): boring or ordinary

How you may pronounce it: BAY-nal
Actual pronunciation: buh-NAL (but also, not really)

The pronunciation of this one is all over the place so it may not even be fair to include it in this list because no one can really agree on what’s correct and what’s not. While many dictionaries list “buh-NAL” first (think “canal”) as the first definitions, others list “BAY-nal,” “bu-NAHL,” and “bay-NAHL” as also being correct. In fact, in American Heritage’s Usage Panel, the decision about how this is used is almost equally split, with buh-NAL taking a slight lead, so I’m going with the people on this one. (Source)

Dr. Seuss: American children’s author and poet

How you may pronounce it: soo-s
Actual pronunciation: s-oi-s

I reckon it’s easier to teach children how to say Seuss like “moose” than it is to explain why it is actually pronounced more like “voice.” After the writer was busted for drinking on his college campus, he crafted the pen name Dr. Seuss, borrowing from his own middle name (Theodor Seuss Geisel). Despite the name’s German origin, the American pronunciation of Seuss like “truce” has gained traction in classroom’s everywhere.

Cache (n.): a hiding place especially for concealing and preserving provisions or implements; a computer memory used for storage of frequently or recently used data

How you may pronounce it: cash-ay
Actual pronunciation: cash

Anyone who pronounces “Target” like “Tar-jay” may also be tempted to pronounced this word as “cash-ay” or “catch” but this word actually sounds more like “cash” as in “people who know the proper pronunciation probably make a lot of cash because they work with computers and probably robots and stuff.” I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

In the end, we’re left with this feeling:

Pronunciation

I understand you, thoughtful sepia-tone man.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA WIKIHOW.COM

comments

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  1. I can’t really say anything because while people may misprounounce some words, you must take into account different accents, dialects, ect. I mean, I am from michigan and do not pronounce my “t’s” in many words. So…”button” is “bu-in” or Martin is “Mar-in,” ect.

    But, thanks for all these correct pronunciations. :D

  2. Wow, some of the comments are pretty rude. She’s not talking smack about your mother, she’s just pointing out some pronunciations.

    “(NOTE: English has changed over time. I’m not saying anyone who uses such terms should be burned at the stake. I’m merely listing the original pronunciations for these terms and comparing them to how they’re said now, for funzies.)”

    I think she gave a pretty pleasant disclaimer. Let’s chill out with the whole telling her to buy a dictionary thing.

  3. People honestly pronounce these incorrectly? I mean, Dr. Seuss, I get. It’s German and confusing if you don’t speak German (just like how we’ve all incorrectly Americanized “Van Gogh” – look up the actual pronunciation in Dutch, it’ll blow your mind!). But Oregon, mischievous, cache, crepe, etc.? I thought these were pretty standard!

  4. so true, didn’t realize the one about flaccid. but i try to say states’ names the way folks from there say it. so, “oregun” and sometimes i say “nev-add-a” instead of nevada but living in new england i get funny looks, and am faced with the issue so well captured in that meme.

  5. bilingual canadian here.

    ê sounds like “ay” to me… so I’d say “kraype” is the best way for anglophones to pronounce crêpe.

    but that’s me translating from quebecois french to canadian/american english. in other accidents it’s not quite “ay”.

  6. As a Brit, I seem to pronounce most of these words “correctly” but, unlike some other posters, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Americans have ruined the English language. In fact, there is research that suggests that us Brits used to speak more like Americans but consciously moved away from the accent in order to distance ourselves from the colonies. Also, would you tell French Canadians that they have ruined the French language? Or claim that the Great Vowel Shift that started way back in the 14th century ruined English? I doubt it. Language evolves over time and it’s only natural that countries so far apart geographically would have their own versions. We also borrow a lot of words from foreign languages, which are bound to be said differently. Let’s just embrace our differences and enjoy the English language :)

  7. Tyler, you do realize that crêpe is actually pronounced krep in French, right? Since it is a French word, I would believe that to be the correct pronunciation.

    Additionally, the German pronunciation of Seuss would be more like z-oi-s. I know because German is my first language.

  8. Again, Tyler, you should pick up a dictionary at B&N. Many of these words have multiple pronunciations, just like the words in your other articles have multiple definitions.

  9. Xandra,
    They were talking about the food “crêpe”. “Crepe” is a separate word that describes things that are crêpe-like. Crêpes can be crepe, apparently, but not vise-versa. Not sure how to pronounce “crepe”, though. When I typed in both words into Google, it couldn’t tell the difference and I got thin pancakes for both words.

  10. Shouldn’t the bold word be “crepe” then, not “crêpe”? Confused me.

  11. Grammar Nazis everywhere.

  12. Oh how Americans have ruined the English language! I think you’ll find the incorrect “new” pronunciations are mostly American idioms and that the correct pronunciations are used/taught elsewhere. Need I mention aluminium…!!!

  13. I hate to seem pedantic, but the word crepe is french, and its pronounced just like “krep”
    Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but I’m living in Belgium at the moment so there are crepes everywhere!!!!!!!

  14. The paragraph about Dr. Seuss made me remember how I was in Canada and didn’t know what people were talking about when they referred to Goethe as ‘Go-thee’. In fact, this famous German writer is pronounced ‘Gu (like the beginning of ‘girl’) – te (like the first syllable in ‘telephone’).

  15. I have to add that I was shocked last year to find out that the correct pronunciation of the word “often” is “offen,” with a silent ‘t.’ Now I notice EVERY time someone says the word, and I usually say it twice, because I say it with the ‘t,’ and then correct myself by saying it without the ‘t.’ But it seriously bugs me that the ‘t’ is silent. I don’t like it.

  16. I’m a native Oregonian as well, and I have never ever EVER heard anyone call it “Or-a-gun” or “Or-gun”. It’s Or-eh-gun. Educate yourself.

  17. I agree with the accepted pronunciation of Oregon at two syllables, but how does one pronounce the name of someone who is from Oregon? :)

    • Here’s a guess: or-eh-GOHN-ee-an
      I have little authority to make this claim, however! I’m from California and I recently moved to Washington for college… most of my college friends are from Oregon and Montana and Washington, so we discussed how to refer to each other by our home states.

  18. This is a great list. Like many others have stated though, the “ah” in Oregon is -practically- nonexistent. Though they say nobody pronounces it with three syllables, everyone I know does… but it is barely there. Kinda like a half syllable.

    I also feel like Van Gogh (as in Vincent) should be added to this list.

  19. I would be interested to hear how most people pronounce niche
    Vote ‘nitch’ or ‘neesh’
    I vote neesh but that might just be me

  20. Love this post! But yes, as an Oregon native, it’s pronounced like the ‘organs’ in your body. Or the old dusty Wurlitzer ‘organ’ in your grandmothers garage. It may be the “wrong” pronunciation, but its the Oregon way. GO DUCKS!