A self-proclaimed lexicomane (word lover), Charles Elster of San Diego, Calif., says he's "probably America's biggest pet peever about pronunciation."
"People judge you by the words you use in print or [that come] out of your mouth. You will not be judged kindly," said Elster, who published a book in 1999 appropriately named "The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations. "It's really a question of trying to be right, because being right is a good worthy end in itself. It's about getting it right, doing it as well as you can and not passing along your ignorance to the next person."
There's no shortage of words in the English language that go mispronounced on a daily basis, enough to make some people within ear-shot cringe. The difference between tomato and tom-ah-to, potato and po-tah-to and countless others are enough to invoke a near-visceral reaction, as we found out by polling readers on ABCNews.com.
Here are our favorities from the more than 100 responses we received:
This is more of a mispronunciation issue than a "two-ways-to-pronounce" issue, but every time George W. Bush would say NEW-KYU-LER it felt like chalk on a thousand blackboards.
My biggest pet peeve is the mispronunciation of the word mischievous ... it is not mischievious ... there is not an "i" in the last syllable. My second biggest pet peeve is the pronunciation of the "t" in the word often ... would one pronounce the "t" in the word soften? I don't think so ... so please don't enunciate in the word often either. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.
I hate when Food Network people call endive "on-deev." It's ridiculous and pretentious. Watch "Chopped" once in awhile. Despite the fact that my girlfriend and I enjoy the show, they just get so huffy and self-important. It's annoying.
I do not warsh my clothes or dishes, I wash them. I'm not sure what is involved in warshing. Maybe there is an extra step involved rendering your warshables extra clean. Perhaps a car warsh in vastly superior to a car wash.
"Voila" mispronounced or even misspelled as "wahlah." It makes my skin crawl and I become the annoying person who corrects her friends every time I see or hear them misuse it. Funny side note: When I corrected my boyfriend and told him how to spell and say it correctly he said, "I saw it spelled that way before and thought it was pronounced 'viola'!"
Pronouncing the word picture as "pitcher." I have overheard the comment, "What a lovely pitcher." I scan the room for a vessel that would contain a beverage or perhaps flowers. Maybe [professional baseball player] Zack Greinke is present? I then spot the lovely "pitcher" hanging on the wall of a family vacation. Disappointing. I was rather looking forward to some lemonade or sangria.
As a Spanish major, my biggest pet peeve is when ignorant Americans pronounce Spanish words with a twang. Quesadilla becomes "kay-suh-dil-a," hola becomes "hoe-la ..." At least learn the basics correctly!
I had a teacher in elementary school who said "may shure" instead of "measure." It drove me nuts in second grade! I've never met anyone who mispronounced this word before and it still drives me nuts and I'm 31!
Coupon being pronounced Q-pon last I checked there is no Q in coup-on! (coop-on)
Italian, It is supposed to be: It - al - ian not: Eye - tal - ian I absolutely hate it when people say they love Eye-talian dressing, or Eye-talian subs. Since when did the Eye-talians immigrate from Eye-taly?
|Espresso, ask and escape|
I cringe whenever someone mispronounces "espresso," "ask" and "escape." There is no "x" in any of these words! It may be petty but hearing "expresso," "ax" and "excape" makes me lose respect for the speaker!
I really hate when people say "conversate" when the correct word is "converse." For example, We were trying to conversate when we were interrupted.
Got one that drives me nuts. It's "stir" when it's pronounced "steer." In fact, there was a song back in the sixties that phonetically was called, "Steer it up," and to this day it makes me want to reach through the radio and yank out the singer's tonsils.
My pet peeve is that so few people are able to pronounce frustrated. I've heard fustrated, flustrated and many more variations!
Probably the worst one that just kills me is when people say "supposably" instead of "supposedly."
It drives me crazy to hear people say "ant" instead of "Aunt." Treat your relative with respect! She's not a bug.
Instead of saying the word "usually," my husband says "lusually." Drives me nuts!