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Words that misled in youth
Posted: 17 March 2007 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The example I’m thinking of is misled itself. As a young boy I was convinced that there was a verb misle, and the past tense was misled, pronounced my-zled. Another example, quite bizarre, yet I assure you that it’s true. As a boy of about 9 I was convinced that the taboo word fuck had a silent l and was spelt fluck. How this crazy notion had made its way into my head I know not, but I vividly recall saying to a playmate, when we saw the word scrawled on a wall, “They’ve spelt that wrong. There’s an l in it but it’s not pronounced.” He was much impressed by my learning and superior worldly wisdom, as I remember; the addlepated conception had planted itself in another head, probably by the same method it had been planted in my own.

Any other youthful misapprehensions?

BTW on a whim I checked for fluck in OED. And lo, there it is, in solitary splendour, a nonce-word, OED hazards, with the l most definitely pronounced and a meaning (or implied meaning, no definition is given) far from the one I assigned to it all those years ago. It’s nice to see it there though, like greeting a childhood friend!

1885 H. O. FORBES Nat. Wand. E. Archip. 12 Not a sound to break the silence save the plunge of a porpoise or the fluck of the fishes in quest of their evening meal.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My father used to say “misle” for “mislead” as a joke.

When I was a child I heard “fluck” sometimes for “f*ck” too. I can’t remember whether I knew it was incorrect at the time. It seems reasonable since “f__ck” calls for “l” (or less likely “r") plus vowel, not for a vowel alone: “flack”, “fleck”, “flick”, “flock”, “frock”, but no “fack”, “feck”, “fick”, or “fock” (at least not in common use).

When I was young I imagined that “revered” rhymed with “severed” ... never heard it spoken, I guess. Also “segue” with imaginary pronunciation “seeg”.

[ Edited: 17 March 2007 03:31 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 17 March 2007 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As a youth, I read Ivanhoe and having virtually no experience with French, Bois-Guilbert was sounded out in my mind as Boyz Goolbert, the t not silent. I was very confused when years later I was in High School and we were assigned the book in Freshman English. For the first week of class discussions, I couldn’t figure out who this “Woggle Bear” character was that the teacher kept talking about.

Upon reflection, I suspect he was a friend of Gladly, the cross-eyed bear we used to sing about in church.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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D Wilson - 17 March 2007 03:07 PM

When I was young I imagined that “revered” rhymed with “severed” ... never heard it spoken, I guess. Also “segue” with imaginary pronunciation “seeg”.

I wasn’t all that young when I heard how segue was supposed to be pronounced. I thought people were having me on. And sometimes, I’m still not sure they’re not, you know!

Apart from misled, other words which surprised me when I heard them pronounced by someone who knew how to do it were
Picturesque; I’d thought it was like pictures with a Q on the end
Epitome; Yup, I had the -ome sound the same as home
Lieutenant; An eff? No, Surely not! Mind you, I’d imagine that even in America, the -ieu- sound is a bit of a puzzler, too; until you hear someone say it.

There was a place in Dublin, near where I used to live that was recognised as a nice place to have your home. Lots of old houses in an affluent area. I’m not much of a one for being able to tell what a tree is by looking at its leaves or nuts and that sort of thing. So I suppose the sight of the beautiful old leafy old trees in it had made me subconsciously rationalise name in my head. I thought they were conker trees. Turns out the place is called Conquer Hill.
So my historical knowledge is obviously no better than my tree identification.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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happydog - 17 March 2007 04:02 PM

Upon reflection, I suspect he was a friend of Gladly, the cross-eyed bear we used to sing about in church.

Talking of bears, there is a book (possibly Brideshead Revisited) where one of the characters had a teddy bear called Aloysius.  Now there’s a name I didn’t learn to pronounce correctly until much older. British names are, of course, as much of a snare to the youthful Brit as they are to the unwary foreigner though the only first name I remember getting embarrassingly wrong was Penelope (pronounced by me to rhyme with envelope).  Years later, my grandfather, who had served in the Royal Navy, told me that the sailors of HMS Penelope had the same problem at first, but their confusion was compounded for much of the crew by their being transferred, on the withdrawal of the Penelope, to HMS Antelope.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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When I was a kid, I thought bedridden was the past participle of a verb bedride (and pronounced it accordingly: be-DRID-den).

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The words for me were “chimera” and “Yosemite”.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Does it have to be in youth?  I was about 30 years old taking my first computer class and my freshmen classmates thought it quite amusing when I said A-S-C-2 for ASCII.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I never heard the word “Yosemite” until late middle age. Until that time, it rhymed in my head with “cheesemite”.  A word that throws me even now is “sundried” (re tomatoes) --- whenever i see it written, i hear it in my head as a passive use of the imaginary verb “to sundry” (as in “all and sundry"). I’d much rather see it spelt with a hyphen. Why does nobody write “freezedried” or “airdried” or “vacuumdried” or “hickorysmokedried”?

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Posted: 18 March 2007 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m too embarrassed and ignorant to admit to anything.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Back in the old days* during my first try at college there was, at the student union, a sort of precursor to the microwave oven that used infra-red radiation to cook food.  They spelled it without a hyphen so we back-formed the verb “infrare” to refer to the process of cooking in the thing. Only difference we knew what we were doing.

*The old days was the pre-60s ‘60s.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thank you, jimgorman. for years I’ve wondered why people would look at me rather oddly when I said “seeg-you”, rhyming with “aig-you”.

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Posted: 19 March 2007 12:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Is there any other word where “ue” is pronounced “way”?  I mean, it’s bad enough having to cope with Fortesque and grotesque..

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Posted: 19 March 2007 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I must confess that I too (still, to this day) often read misled as the past tense of the “verb” to misle.

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Posted: 19 March 2007 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Yes, I still catch myself reading it that way too sometimes, Dave.

And, astonishingly enough, we could well find vindication in this OED entry, for the verb mizzle 2 (one of the alternative spellings being misle):

Forms: 15 misle, mizzel, 16 mizel, 18- mizzle. [Origin unknown; prob. a frequentative formation (cf. -LE 3). Perh. connected with MIZMAZE n. (cf. sense 2 s.v.). Cf. later MAIZEL v. Cf. MIZZLED a.2
Quot. 1599 could perh. alternatively be interpreted as showing misled, past participle of MISLEAD v. The following perh. shows mizzled as a graphic representation of a misreading of misled, past participle of MISLEAD v.:
1999 Scotsman 30 Apr. 23/4 Do not be mizzled, I mean misled, by their propaganda.]

trans. To confuse, muddle, mystify; to intoxicate, befuddle.
1583 P. STUBBES Anat. Abuses (ed. 2) I. sig. Hii, Their heades pretely mizzeled with wine. 1599 H. PORTER Angry Women Abington (1841) 48 What though he be mump, misled, blind..? tis no consequent to me. 1601 BP. W. BARLOW Def. Protestants Relig. 81 They were by their owne ignorance mizeled, or by their blind guides miss-led.
1942 Amer. Speech 17 171 To Mizzle… The writer’s informant used it in the sense of ‘to confuse’ or ‘to muddle’.

After all these years I can now say with a clear conscience, “I’m not trying to misle you.”!

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Posted: 19 March 2007 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I knew someone who thought ‘underfed’ had two syllables, referring to people who hadn’t been derfed. And no, it wasn’t me.

I did get caught out in a spelling test when I was about 12 or so. Being cocky and sure that I knew anything they could throw at me, I would just have a cursory look at the words for the week, just in case there was something that I’d never encountered. There never was, so I didn’t bother to learn them. Until the day the teacher read out the words, and one was ‘awry’. I was puzzled — I’d never heard the word, but why hadn’t I noticed when the list was handed out? I had seen it — but as I was familiar with the word from reading, and heard it in my head as ‘AU-ree’, I hadn’t paid it much attention and had forgotten it by the time of the test.

There were other words that it took me ages to connect the written form with the spoken word, though. ‘Solder’ (the American and old British pronunciation), ‘hogshead’ and ‘Chopin’, if names count are three that spring to mind. I heard ‘segue’ long before I saw it, and remember being at a loss as to how it was spelt and how to look it up, not knowing the spelling.

Which prompts me to start a topic.

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