Category: Pronunciation

The Diversity of American Dialects

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Americans share a common language, but as in other countries, not all people speak it the same way. The U.S. has its own family of dialects that differ by region within its 3.8 million square miles. People establish a dialect when they live together within set social or geographical boundaries over time. As they use …

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That’s nyooz to me

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Today we are repeating an article from January 2016 as we mourn the demise of the traditional pronunciation of the word electoral. Like many of you, we word nerds at GrammarBook.com have been surfing the TV news networks as we follow pre- and post-election coverage. We can't count the number of times we’ve heard the …

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2019’s Word of the Year is Inclusive, Not Divisive

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Have you heard that Merriam-Webster chose the word they as the "Word of the Year"? And that it was chosen as the "Word of the Decade" by the American Dialect Society? We are not surprised. You probably recall that we ran three articles in July-August 2019 discussing the singular they (How Did They Get in …

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Mixing Miscellany Again

Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Our study of American English grammar and style sometimes gathers bits too small to feature yet worthy to gather for group exploration. In 2018, we discussed such medleys twice: Exploring Some English Miscellany More Mulling Over Miscellany This year we've continued tracking items of note that we receive from our readers. Let's look at several …

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Play It Again, Sam

Posted on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, at 11:00 pm

It has been a while since our last pronunciation column, so here's another group of familiar words whose traditional pronunciations may surprise you. (Note: capital letters denote a stressed syllable.) Antarctica  Like the elusive first r in February, the first c in this word is often carelessly dropped: it's ant-ARC-tica, not ant-AR-tica. Err  Since to err is to make an error, …

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More on “More Ear-itating Word Abuse”

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Last month we reran More Ear-itating Word Abuse by our late writer Tom Stern. The article first appeared in August 2013. We heard from many readers, and their comments were just about evenly split between: For years I've hated hearing people mispronounce these words. Thank you for shining a spotlight on this subject. and You …

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More Ear-itating Word Abuse

Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger's star has faded, the erstwhile weight lifter-actor-governor hasn't quite left the building. Recently, a phonics teacher e-mailed her exasperation with broadcasters who mispronounce the first syllable in "Schwarzenegger," saying "swartz" instead of "shwartz." "There IS a difference!" she said. "It's gotten to the point that it's like nails on a chalkboard when …

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A Real Feather-Ruffler

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Up until the late eighteenth century, Brits spoke with an American accent. So says the noted language scholar Patricia T. O’Conner. The “English” accent as we know it didn’t develop until the late 1700s. That’s when British snobs started doing things like dropping r’s, adding and subtracting h’s, saying “pahst” instead of “past,” and “sec-ra-tree” and “mill-a-tree” …

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More on Misspoken or Mispronounced Words and Phrases

Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 11:00 pm

A few weeks back we explored words and phrases that can sabotage our communication—and our perceived persuasion—by being mispronounced or misspoken. The article inspired thoughtful feedback and additional entries from readers who likewise monitor the proper use of English. What follows are two items from our current list that were questioned, as well as more …

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Misspoken or Mispronounced Words and Phrases

Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Writing serves us well in communication by providing us with a framework for arranging words into clear and thoughtful statements, including opportunities for eloquence. Applying ourselves to concise writing can also reinforce articulate speech. We are often moved or impressed by those who express themselves with precision and power. Think of the historic public addresses …

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Pronouncing the Word Blessed

Posted on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We received a number of inquiries from readers asking about the proper pronunciation of the word blessed when used in a way that we were not aware of when our original e-newsletter on this subject was issued on August 11, 2012. In order to provide what we hope is now complete coverage of the topic, today we …

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You Lost Me After “Feb”

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, at 8:30 am

In honor of both our present month as well as the birthday of our late writer Tom Stern, today we repeat his classic pronunciation article first published on February 3, 2016.   Feb-yoo-ary. Febber-ary. Feb-wary. Can't anyone around here say "feb-roo-ary"? It's time to revisit dissimilation, the labored linguistic theory that purports to explain why so …

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Nothing Poetic About This Verse

Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at 4:42 pm

Have you noticed how the abbreviation vs., meaning “against,” is pronounced these days? People read “Serbia vs. USA for the Gold Medal” and say “Serbia verse USA.” Yes, “verse”—one syllable—although vs. stands for versus here. That’s “verse-uss”—two syllables. When we hear this gaffe over the airwaves, are we imagining things or do the announcers sound …

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Pronunciation Only Matters When You Speak

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at 4:46 pm

A cautionary tale for those who are cavalier about pronunciation: In 2003, the then president of the United States made his first presidential visit to Nevada and repeatedly pronounced it “nuh-VAHD-a.” Residents of the state got testy—it’s nuh-VAD-a, and they felt that the commander in chief should know it. The next time he spoke there, …

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When Branding Undermines Spelling

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:32 pm

• Spring is in the air, which means that in America, major-league baseball is on the air. In San Francisco, two members of the hometown Giants’ broadcast team are former major-leaguers Mike Krukow (pronounced CREW-ko) and Duane Kuiper (KY-per). The team’s publicity department refers to these popular announcers as “Kruk” and “Kuip,” which we are …

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