We’re judged by the way we write — and speak.
Don’t believe me? Dictionary.com found that 47% of Americans are irritated by mispronunciations — so irritated that they correct family and friends.
Some words have multiple correct pronunciations, and some words might be considered pronounced correctly in one region but not in another.
Sometimes mispronunciation is so frequent and widespread that the new pronunciation becomes acceptable.
I downloaded You’re Saying it Wrong and went to work on my own pronunciation. Here’s an A-to-Z list of common errors. (Capital letters show where the emphasis should be.) How many have you been saying wrong?
A to Z Pronunciation Check
Antarctica | ant-ARK-TIK-a (not ant-ART-i-ca)
relating to regions, flora and fauna around the South Pole
Beijing | bay-JING (not bay-ZHING)
capital of the People’s Republic of China
bruschetta | broo-SKEH-tah (not broo-SHEH-tah)
Italian specialty antipasto: grilled bread with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and sometimes cheese or other toppings
Celtic | KEL-tic (for most usages) but SEL-tic for Boston and Glasgow sports teams
of or belonging to the Celts; speakers of languages in parts of Britain, France and Ireland
comptroller | con-TROLL-er (not comp-TROLL-er)
a management-level position responsible for supervising an organization’s quality of accounting and financial reporting
corpsman | COR-muhn or CORZ-muhn (not CORPS-muhn)
enlisted service personnel, often medical
croissant | cwah-SAHN or cwah-SAHNT (not croy-SANT)
a sweet, flaky, crescent-shaped French roll
crudités | kroo-de-TAY (not KROO-dites)
appetizer of assorted bite-size raw vegetables with dipping sauce
dais | DAY-iss (not DY-iss)
platform, as in a lecture hall, for speakers or honored guests
electoral | ee-LECK-tor-uhl (not ee-leck-TOR-uhl)
relating to or composed of electors (electoral college)
forte | fort (not for-TAY)
strength or talent; when pronounced as for-TAY, is musical term for loud
fungi | FUN-guy (not FUN-gee)
plural of fungus
GIF | jiff (not giff)
acronym for Graphics Interchange Format
gyro | YEE-roh (not GUY-roh or JEE-roh)
sandwich made from meat that has been roasted on a rotating spit
haute couture | oat kuh-TOOR (not hote koo-CHUR)
high fashion or designs by top designers and/or fashion houses
homage | OM-idge or o-MAHJ (not HOM-idge)
special honor or respect shown publicly
jibe | jibe (not jive)
to be in agreement or compatible with
kibosh | KYE-bahsh (not kee-BAHSH)
to put an end or stop to something
machination | mack-uh-NAY-shun (not MAH-shuh-nay-shun)
a plot or scheme
mascarpone | mas-car-POH-neh or mas-car-POH-nay (not mars-kuh-PONE)
a soft, mild, Italian cream cheese
mischievous | MIS-chuh-vus (not mis-CHEE-vee-us)
wanting to or causing trouble, often in a playful way
niche | neesh or nitch
a market segment; a place or position suitable for a person or thing; a shallow recess in a wall for a sculpture or other decorative object
ophthalmologist | off-thall-MOLL-uh-jist (not OPP-thuh-MOLL-uh-jist)
medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of eye problems and diseases
Oregon | OR-i-guhn (not OR-uh-GAHN)
state in Pacific Northwest below Washington
plethora | PLETH-or-uh (not pleh-THOR-uh)
too many; a large or excessive amount
poinsettia | poin-SET-ee-uh (not poin-SET-uh)
red and green foliage plant often used in Christmas floral displays
prerogative | pre-ROG-uh-tiv (not per-OG-uh-tiv)
a right or privilege exclusive to a particular individual or class
prestigious | preh-STIJ-us (not preh-STEE-jus)
inspiring respect and admiration, having high status
quinoa | KEEN-wah (not keen-OW-ah)
small, gluten-free, protein-rich seeds of the goosefoot plant
remuneration | ri-MYOO-nuh-ray-shuhn (not ri-MOO-nuh-ray-shuhn)
payment received for work done or services performed
supposedly | sup-POSE-ed-lee (not sup-POSE-ub-lee)
according to what is believed or assumed, often without conclusive evidence
shebang (as in the whole shebang) | shuh-BANG (not shee-BANG)
a matter, an operation, or a set of circumstances
turmeric | TUR-mer-ik (not too-MEHR-ik)
bright yellow powdered root spice
utmost | UT-most (not UP-most)
at the farthest limit, the greatest extent or amount
yin-yang | YIN (not ying)-yang
Chinese philosophical term emphasizing the interaction of opposite and especially complementary elements
zoology | zoh-OL-uh-gee (not ZOO-ol-uh-gee)
the study of animals
How did you do?
If you got them all right, congratulations! If you messed up on a few, I’ll bet you’ll do better from now on.
Remember: Pronouncing words right is just as important as writing them right. Avoid irritating your family and friends. Instead, gain confidence and respect by mastering correct pronunciations.
One last thing … note the spelling difference between proNOUNce / misproNOUNce and proNUNciation / misproNUNciation.
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