Words you choose to mispronounce

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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:13 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:
RebeccaRGB wrote:
Eugo wrote:I keep pronouncing finale the Italian way, not fennelie. Just can't get myself to pronounce it the American way, except to point out how wrong it sounds to me.

I've never heard it pronounced 'fennelie'. I always pronounce it fih-NAA-lee [fɪnæli].

It was always the announcements for the "season fennelie" on several TV channels in the US, many years ago, before we developed a Pavlovian reflex to mute the TV as soon as commercials start. Then we gave up on TV altogether. Maybe they pronounce it differently now, I wouldn't know.


Do you by any chance have an accent where the vowels from "bat" and "bet" sound the same or similar? I've definitely heard "finale" with the second vowel pronounced like "bat", but not with the second vowel pronounced like "bet".

And are you saying you've heard "finale" pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, or the first?
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Eugo » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:44 pm UTC

skullturf wrote:
Eugo wrote:
RebeccaRGB wrote:
Eugo wrote:I keep pronouncing finale the Italian way, not fennelie. Just can't get myself to pronounce it the American way, except to point out how wrong it sounds to me.

I've never heard it pronounced 'fennelie'. I always pronounce it fih-NAA-lee [fɪnæli].

It was always the announcements for the "season fennelie" on several TV channels in the US, many years ago, before we developed a Pavlovian reflex to mute the TV as soon as commercials start. Then we gave up on TV altogether. Maybe they pronounce it differently now, I wouldn't know.


Do you by any chance have an accent where the vowels from "bat" and "bet" sound the same or similar? I've definitely heard "finale" with the second vowel pronounced like "bat", but not with the second vowel pronounced like "bet".

And are you saying you've heard "finale" pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, or the first?

Second... but the first syllable was definitely an "eh", i.e. [fenæli] is the best representation of what I heard. My IPA skills are rather rusty, though. Maybe "fenelley" would have been a better Tarzanspeak spelling.

Either way, it just peeves me. I've heard enough Italian to be annoyed with this kind of (mis)pronunciation.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:54 pm UTC

I would usually represent the sound [æ] with the letter A, and think of that as a "short A" sound, whereas I would usually represent the sound [ɛ] with the letter E, and think of that as a "short E" sound.

For me, "valley" and "rally" rhyme with each other, and "smelly" and "belly" rhyme with each other, but the words in the first group do not rhyme with the words in the second group. The first group has [æ], and the second group has [ɛ].

I perceive "finale" (or at least one pronunciation of it) as rhyming with "valley"/"rally", and not with "smelly"/"belly". Personally, I wouldn't spell this pronunciation of "finale" with an E in the second syllable.

But I know that there are some speakers for whom [æ] and [ɛ] are the same or very similar.

Sorry for the pedantry. I'm just curious as to whether you've heard native speakers say "finale" with a pronunciation different from the one I've heard that rhymes with "valley"/"rally".
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby yurell » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:53 pm UTC

I honestly have never heard it with the [æ] or [ɛ]. Is it an American thing?
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:09 pm UTC

yurell wrote:I honestly have never heard it with the [æ] or [ɛ]. Is it an American thing?


I think so, and Canadian too.

There are other words that are pronounced with the "trap" vowel by North Americans, but are pronounced with the "father" vowel in some other places.

E.g. the words "half" and "can't".
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Eugo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:22 am UTC

skullturf wrote:Sorry for the pedantry. I'm just curious as to whether you've heard native speakers say "finale" with a pronunciation different from the one I've heard that rhymes with "valley"/"rally".

The middle syllable was as you describe it - my initial transcription ("fenneley") is wrong there.

American pronunciation of words from most European languages (at least those where they invest some effort to imitate the original pronunciation, like German and French) usually gets them halfway - they get half of the possible errors right, the other half wrong. They'll pronounce ei in "zeitgeist" right, but the z remains a z, even though they're perfectly capable of pronouncing it (as in pizza).

But in this case, out of three vowels, they got all three wrong, which still annoys me. Mind you, the myriad ways they pronounce my name and surname still amuses me.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:36 am UTC

Luckily other languages stealing heavily from English always manage to pronounce things so perfectly!
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Derek » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:06 am UTC

Eugo wrote:They'll pronounce ei in "zeitgeist" right, but the z remains a z, even though they're perfectly capable of pronouncing it (as in pizza).

In English /ts/ is only possible across a syllable boundary, /pit-sə/. So native English speakers are not "perfectly capable" of pronouncing /tsai.../ in the sense that the phonological rules of English do not allow it. It doesn't take much effort to bend these rules, but it doesn't usually happen, even for borrowings. (And I know that there are other borrowed words that could be pronounced perfectly fine but aren't)
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:38 am UTC

Eugo wrote:American pronunciation of words from most European languages (at least those where they invest some effort to imitate the original pronunciation, like German and French) usually gets them halfway - they get half of the possible errors right, the other half wrong. They'll pronounce ei in "zeitgeist" right, but the z remains a z, even though they're perfectly capable of pronouncing it (as in pizza).

But in this case, out of three vowels, they got all three wrong, which still annoys me. Mind you, the myriad ways they pronounce my name and surname still amuses me.


One has to be careful when describing pronunciations as "wrong" when language boundaries are crossed.

My real name contains a letter i that's pronounced as in "Tim". But my name is an uncommon one (not Tim) and people sometimes pronounce the i in my name with the vowel from "teem", not the vowel from "Tim". If they make this mistake, I correct them.

However, there are some people who pronounce "Tim" and "teem" the same (or "mitt" and "meet", or "bitch" and "beech", etc.). For example, some native speakers of Spanish or Italian have trouble with this distinction in English.

If somebody's a fellow speaker of North American English and I know they make the "bit"/"beet" distinction, then I correct their pronunciation of my name. But if I suspect that in their dialect or accent, the "bit"/"beet" distinction doesn't exist, then I don't correct them, even if their pronunciation sounds like the "beet" vowel to my ears.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby yurell » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:59 am UTC

Derek wrote:In English /ts/ is only possible across a syllable boundary, /pit-sə/. So native English speakers are not "perfectly capable" of pronouncing /tsai.../ in the sense that the phonological rules of English do not allow it. It doesn't take much effort to bend these rules, but it doesn't usually happen, even for borrowings. (And I know that there are other borrowed words that could be pronounced perfectly fine but aren't)


I've always pronounced 'Tsar' with /ts/, as has everyone else I've known (although looking it up in wiktionary suggests Americans just go /z/).
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:02 am UTC

I was also going to suggest "tsetse fly". I've also known people with the first name Tsvi and the last name Tsai or Tsatsomeros, and I pronounced their names with an initial "ts" sound. Same with "tsunami", at least for me, come to think of it.

But it's definitely rare in initial position in English. And the more general point still stands: some languages simply don't contain certain sounds (or certain sounds in certain positions).
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:30 am UTC

There was a post on Language Log that English speakers who think they pronounce <tsunami> with an initial /ts/ actually tend to pronounce it as a simplified /s/. Something about a sometimes non-distinguishment with [ts] and [s].
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Eugo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:45 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Luckily other languages stealing heavily from English always manage to pronounce things so perfectly!

I'd fine them for theft.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby RebeccaRGB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:53 am UTC

I realized the other day that when I talk to myself I'll occasionally pronounce "creek" as "crick." (I've lived 99% of my entire life in California, and that is the only word where I'll do that vowel shift; it isn't something I picked up locally. Of all things I think it came from a book I read in middle school.)
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Fire Brns » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
Derek wrote:In English /ts/ is only possible across a syllable boundary, /pit-sə/. So native English speakers are not "perfectly capable" of pronouncing /tsai.../ in the sense that the phonological rules of English do not allow it. It doesn't take much effort to bend these rules, but it doesn't usually happen, even for borrowings. (And I know that there are other borrowed words that could be pronounced perfectly fine but aren't)


I've always pronounced 'Tsar' with /ts/, as has everyone else I've known (although looking it up in wiktionary suggests Americans just go /z/).

Most people I know pronounce it Czar. Although I like that sound so much "ц".

And English has thousands of borrow words that sound almost nothing like the originals. Be lucky they get the spelling, definition, and most of the pronounciation right on word such as kindergarten and zeitgeist. The Spanish had far less luck in North America with El lagarto(aligator[actually lizzard]), tornillo(tornado[actually screw]).
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Igidich » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:34 am UTC

I always feel uncomfortable pronouncing the word 'beautiful' in my mildly Scottish accent. Using a glottal stop just sounds a bit profane, but with a [t] it seems a little unnatural and maybe even childlike. My compromise is usually to say it in a Northern English accent. I quite like putting on a Northern English accent for the occasional phrase, so now I seem to feel I can resort to it when my own lets me down. Weird, eh? It is a lovely accent, though.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Anubis » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:11 am UTC

I pronounce the "l" in "salmon" and "talk". I have never heard anyone else do this.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby UniqueScreenname » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:26 am UTC

Anubis wrote:I pronounce the "l" in "salmon" and "talk". I have never heard anyone else do this.

I do this all the time, especially with talk. I do it with chalk too, and balk. I don't know if the l is pronounced strongly in any of these normally, but I figure they must be there for a reason.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Derek » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:48 am UTC

I do it in "-alm" words ("palm", "calm"). I might occasionally do it for "-alk" words, but I'm not sure. I don't do it for "salmon".
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Anubis » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:21 am UTC

UniqueScreenname wrote:
Anubis wrote:I pronounce the "l" in "salmon" and "talk". I have never heard anyone else do this.

I do this all the time, especially with talk. I do it with chalk too, and balk. I don't know if the l is pronounced strongly in any of these normally, but I figure they must be there for a reason.


It seems quite a bit more common in chalk and balk, though I think that's also non-standard. I pronounce the "l" in salmon mostly because I have an irrational aversion to saying it the proper way. I just think it sounds gross and wrong, even though that's pretty much the only way I've ever heard it said.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

I definitely pronounce it in 'balk' and often in 'palm', but (almost) never in similar words like 'walk' or 'calm'.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Ptolom » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:28 pm UTC

In "footballer", I always put the stress on the "ball".
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Re: loaves you choose to mispronounce

Postby ekolis » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:41 pm UTC

I prefer to pronounce "Thebes" (the ancient city) with two syllables, as if it rhymed with "Zebes" (the planet from the Metroid games)...

(I wonder if I've been pronouncing "Zebes" wrong all along, too... I thought Samus' last name was pronounced "uh-RAN", not "Aaron", until Metroid Prime 3 did a screw attack on my understanding of the character...)
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Re: loaves you choose to mispronounce

Postby Derek » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:29 am UTC

I've always pronounced "Zebes" and /zi:bz/, rhyming with the normal pronunciation of Thebes.
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Re: loaves you choose to mispronounce

Postby Sizik » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:25 am UTC

Considering it's ゼーベス (zebesu) in Japanese, it seems that the proper pronunciation would be two syllables with short e's.
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Re: loaves you choose to mispronounce

Postby Derek » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:09 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:Considering it's ゼーベス (zebesu) in Japanese, it seems that the proper pronunciation would be two syllables with short e's.

I think that would be a good argument, were it not for the Japanese penchant for giving things names that can't be pronounced in their own language, like "Metroid" (Japanese "Metoroido"). So it can sometimes be a crapshoot to guess what they actually meant. It would be good evidence in favor of a short e pronunciation on at least the first syllable though (although technically the Japanese would be /e/, not /ɛ/).
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Re: loaves you choose to mispronounce

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:25 pm UTC

It would definitely be a long e (/e:/) in the first syllable because of the long mark, which indicates a long vowel. The the second e would be /ɛ/. In Japanese, though, the vowel quality would be the same, so that doesn't entirely rule out both of them being /e/ in English.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby ekolis » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:46 am UTC

Oh, yeah, I also pronounce "eclipse" with an accent on the "e". (The first one, of course - I'm not trying to turn it into French! :P)

Except when using it as a verb, for some reason...
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Derek » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:07 am UTC

So you're applying the initial stress pattern to "eclipse". Interesting.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Sandor » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:55 pm UTC

I heard a suggestion somewhere (I think on QI), to pronounce "Rhinoceros" as if it were a dinosaur, spelt "Rhinosaurous". Unfortunately there aren't many roaming aroung where I live, so I have little cause to use the word.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby ekolis » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:04 pm UTC

Oh, here's another one! For some reason pronouncing "eidolon" as "eye-DOLE-on" sounds wrong, so I say "IDOL-on"...
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby UniqueScreenname » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:19 pm UTC

ekolis wrote:Oh, here's another one! For some reason pronouncing "eidolon" as "eye-DOLE-on" sounds wrong, so I say "IDOL-on"...

I've never heard that word in my life and I read it as IDOLon. It's seems dumb the other way.

For the first 17 years of my life I thought Minneapolis had another syllable, so I still commonly call it Minneanapolis. I mean, c'mon, we have Indianapolis and plain old Annapolis, and they go and think they're too good for the extra syllable. Psh.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby ekolis » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:09 am UTC

For the first 17 years of my life I thought Minneapolis had another syllable, so I still commonly call it Minneanapolis. I mean, c'mon, we have Indianapolis and plain old Annapolis, and they go and think they're too good for the extra syllable. Psh.


When I was a kid, I thought that "Wisconsin" was "Risconsin"... and my brother thought it was "West Sconsin" - I guess East Sconsin is the western peninsula of Michigan? :P
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Grop » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:28 pm UTC

ekolis wrote:Oh, yeah, I also pronounce "eclipse" with an accent on the "e". (The first one, of course - I'm not trying to turn it into French! :P)


The second e would be silent in many French dialects, and probably unstressed in all others :P.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Jack_Ian » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:44 pm UTC

Disgusterous!
More of a portmanteau word than a deliberate mispronunciation, but whatever.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby krogoth » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:29 am UTC

When I saw the word's above, I realised I pronounce dole as doll, unless I hear the word first from an American or think of the name bob dole. Must be the Aussie accent and the fact I'm more likely to call it Centrelink or 'The Pension'.
Also center spelt centre bugs me for some reason.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Eugo » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:39 am UTC

Group hug. It has become one word, grouphug, and we (whole family) are pronouncing it groo-fug. Because there's a bloody pee aitch in the middle of it.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby skullturf » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:18 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:Group hug. It has become one word, grouphug, and we (whole family) are pronouncing it groo-fug. Because there's a bloody pee aitch in the middle of it.


I'm impressed you're able to uphold this habit when speaking our haphazard language. :D
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby Eugo » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:45 pm UTC

skullturf wrote:I'm impressed you're able to uphold this habit when speaking our haphazard language. :D

We cheat, i.e. we gave up on any generalization or regularity, and practice only this one particular case. We even pronounce threshold as threshhold.

I sit corrected: one of the daughters says she alternates between thresh-old and thres-hold.
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Re: Words you choose to mispronounce

Postby ThereExistsANonexistentFlower » Sun May 27, 2012 8:57 am UTC

I started pronouncing People as [pʰiːpʰɹu] recently as a joke, and now it's sort'f become a verbal tic.

Also, my friends parody my pedanticism ['pʰæː,dəntʰɪsɪzəm] by pronouncing pedant as [,pʰə'dænt] and psychology as [saɪ'kʰoloʤiː]
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