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Words that misled in youth
Posted: 19 March 2007 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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"Stomach” threw me when I first saw it.  From the pronunciation, I’d assumed that the word was spelled “stummick”, and I when I finally saw it printed I mentally pronounced it “stow-match” and wondered what it was.

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Posted: 19 March 2007 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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What’s odd about the pronunciation of hogshead? It’s spelled exactly as it’s pronounced, as far as I know (and according to M-W and the OED).

Another one for me was the name “Hermione.” It took the longest time for me to pronounce that one correctly. The Harry Potter movies (where I heard the name over and over, as opposed to the books) finally drilled it into my head.

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Posted: 19 March 2007 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Dave Wilton - 19 March 2007 02:43 PM

What’s odd about the pronunciation of hogshead? It’s spelled exactly as it’s pronounced, as far as I know (and according to M-W and the OED).

Hog-shed?

For names, how about Aloysius?

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Posted: 19 March 2007 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I suppose “tongue” was the one that got me the worst. I remember reading it in an Archie comic book and asking my older brother what a tong-goo was. He wasn’t particularly kind in explaining it, though perhaps from his viewpoint he was taking it easy on me. It’s all in the perspective. I also have to admit I got all the way to college before I looked up “moby” in the dictionary. (We didn’t read the book in High School.) It was a slang word among surfers in San Diego when I was a kid and I just never got around to questioning its legitimacy as a word. Just thought it was some old-fahioned word that got revived.

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Posted: 19 March 2007 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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D Wilson - 17 March 2007 03:07 PM

Also “segue” with imaginary pronunciation “seeg”.

I had a problem with -gue words, too...such as fat-i-gyoo and cam-off-la-gyoo! Don’t remember if I ever misread segue, though. I think a lot of this has to do with having a larger reading vocabulary than speaking vocabulary.

~Valerie

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Posted: 19 March 2007 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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MoMac - 18 March 2007 04:07 AM

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.

Out of curiosity, do Brits say (phonetically), “in leff of” or “in loo of”?

~Valerie

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Posted: 19 March 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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languagehat - 18 March 2007 07:09 AM

When I was a kid, I thought bedridden was the past participle of a verb bedride (and pronounced it accordingly: be-DRID-den).

On the flip side, a friend’s favorite it beribboned (as in a bonnet festooned with ribbons), which she read as berry-boned.

~Valerie

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Posted: 19 March 2007 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Isaac Asimov said that you could tell a chemist by showing them the word unionized and asking them to say it.  Most people say union-ized, a chemist says un-ionized.

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Posted: 20 March 2007 02:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Kyriosity - 19 March 2007 06:29 PM

MoMac - 18 March 2007 04:07 AM
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.

Out of curiosity, do Brits say (phonetically), “in leff of” or “in loo of”?

~Valerie

The second one. No f sound in that sort leiu.
Just to perplex you further, there might be a pronounced or subtle y in it though; depending on the speaker’s dialect. Though some people would say “loo”

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Posted: 20 March 2007 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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MoMac - 20 March 2007 02:06 AM

Just to perplex you further, there might be a pronounced or subtle y in it though; depending on the speaker’s dialect. Though some people would say “loo”

“lyoo”? Actually, I probably put a bit of y in there, tyoo. But the more serious question is how leftenant and right-hand man can be synonymous. ;-)

~Valerie

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Posted: 20 March 2007 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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OED gives some interesting background to the pronunciation ‘leftenant’.

The origin of the {beta}type of forms (which survives in the usual British pronunciation, though the spelling represents the {alpha}type) is difficult to explain. The hypothesis of a mere misinterpretation of the graphic form (u read as v), at first sight plausible, does not accord with the facts. In view of the rare OF. form luef for lieu (with which cf. esp. the 15th c. Sc. forms luf-, lufftenand above) it seems likely that the labial glide at the end of OF. lieu as the first element of a compound was sometimes apprehended by Englishmen as a v or f. Possibly some of the forms may be due to association with LEAVE n.1 or LIEF a.
In 1793 Walker gives the actual pronunciations as levtenant, but expresses the hope that ‘the regular sound, lewtenant’ will in time become current. In England this pronunciation lewtenant is almost unknown. A newspaper quot. of 1893 in Funk’s Standard Dictionary says that leftenant is in the U.S. ‘almost confined to the retired list of the navy’.]

NB I’ve had to replace the phonetic spellings, for which I’m lacking the font, with my own attempts (italicized) to represent the sound.

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Posted: 20 March 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Thanks, aldiboronti...that was enlightening!

~Valerie

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Righteousness and unrighteousness move material things,
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Loyalty makes plants grow.
Love makes dough rise.
(Doug Jones)

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Posted: 20 March 2007 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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bayard - 19 March 2007 12:31 AM

Is there any other word where “ue” is pronounced “way”?

Dengue (as in dengue fever) is either den gE or den gA.  Dictionaries I checked preferred E, but I remember hearing A more often myself.

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Posted: 20 March 2007 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Dengue has ay, not way, so it’s irrelevant here.  May I suggest suede?

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Posted: 20 March 2007 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Dr. Techie - 19 March 2007 07:16 PM

Isaac Asimov said that you could tell a chemist by showing them the word unionized and asking them to say it.  Most people say union-ized, a chemist says un-ionized.

Which reminds me of being caught out by anions and cations - thought they were pronounced like “onions” and “stations” respectively.

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