Tuesday, May 1, 2007


When I was in Junior High, we had to do a project for English class. The assignment was to create and conduct a survey. We could create any type of survey we chose.

Of course, most of the boys surveyed favorite football teams. Some of them got a little more creative and asked for a favorite team in more than one sport. Then, there were the “overachievers” that got even more creative and added things like best team name, best uniforms, etc., etc., etc. (My answers were the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Mavericks, the Texas Rangers, and/or the New York Yankees to any and all of the aforementioned questions.)

The girls typically surveyed things like favorite television show, favorite song, and favorite teen heartthrob. (My answers were: Happy Days, Eye of the Tiger, and C. Thomas Howell.)

Always having an interest in proper use of the English language, my survey consisted of commonly mispronounced words.
(Yes, I’m a freak like that!) I simply made a list of words and had the survey participants pronounce them, not making them aware of the context of the survey. Then they read the word in a sentence. The results were horrendous!

Some of the words included were:

Correct pronunciation: *[ pruh nówns ]
Participant pronunciation: [ per nówns ]

Correct pronunciation: [ áwff’n, óff’n ]
Participant pronunciation: [ áwff’tuhn, óff’tuhn ]

Correct pronunciation: [ sámmèn ]
Participant pronunciation: [ sálmèn ]

Correct pronunciation: *[ mísschivuhss ]
Participant pronunciation: [ mísschiveeuhss ]

Correct pronunciation: [ oyl ]
Participant pronunciation: [ uhl ]

Correct pronunciation: [ wosh ]
Participant pronunciation: [ warsh ]

Correct pronunciation: *[ groessuhree ]
Participant pronunciation: [ groeshree ]

Correct pronunciation: *[ spuh síffik ]
Participant pronunciation: [ puh síffik ]

*See Disclaimer.

Out of 100 people surveyed, each word was mispronounced more than 50% of the time. Some of them were mispronounced 100% of the time. For the record, the survey participants came from many different socio-economic backgrounds and age groups. Some of them were highly educated, and some of them were even my family members!

So the next time you are saying one of these words – even if you graduated summa cum laude - please, keep in mind pacifically how it should be pernounced.

Due to the inability to post things such as the schwa (upside down e) and the long vowell sounds (straight line above letter) here, some pronunciations (marked by an *asterisk*) are slightly altered as posted on Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

1 comment:

Audra said...

Ok - that was interesting and I mispronounce three (often, mischievous and grocery). :)

Thanks for the education. Oh and i say idear for idea hehe.

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