A few days ago Jeff at The WVSR posed a question to readers regarding mispronounced words. The comments section quickly filled with people’s examples of words they have heard mispronounced. I didn’t post a comment at the time, for a couple of reasons. First, it was a busy day and it was evening before I made it to the comments page, and I’d have been at the end of about 120 comments — and nobody puts wordnerd in the corner (well, the bottom, actually, but I really wanted to use that just then). But second, and probably a much more truthful reason, is why post a comment when I can use the subject a few days later? See there? You. Just. Steal. Other. People’s. Ideas. (Hey, he stole it from Clive Bull…)

There are three categories of mispronounced words: (1) the really adorably mispronounced ones (this pertains only to really, really cute kids…no one else can come into this category), (2)
those that are mispronounced by ordinary people — people you may even care about (you can see where I’m going here) — but regardless (not irregardless, mind you) of who says the word, it still makes your skin crawl, and (3) those that are mispronounced by the self-righteous-holier-than-thou, the self-important, or the people you just flat-out don’t like. And I realize that there is a difference between words that are mispronounced and words that are just wrong, like, say, “irregardless.” But it’s a thin line and I just kinda feel like blurring it a bit.

The cute-kid words are a given, like “breaftast” or “psghetti.” These are the ones that you don’t even want to correct. Unless. You. Have. No. Soul. My kids are 11 and 14, and are far past that cute stage. But at our house, “muffins” are still “fuffins” and lo mein is, and always will be, “China psghetti.” Smile. It’s damned cute and you know it.

The second category? We all have ’em. People we work with. People we live with – ahem. It just happens. One co-worker, whom I sometimes refer to as Malibu Barbie (just let your imagination run wild here), mispronounces almost everything but looks damn good doing it. “Sage” is spoken with a hard ‘g’. “Neosporin” is “Neosperm.” “Supposedly” magically becomes “supposably.” A certain fella I happen to be married to, bless his heart, says “crises” when he means “crisis.” (This almost made it into the first category, but since I made the rule I guess I have to stick to it.) M’s (you met her yesterday) husband works with a woman who pronounces “Ipod” as “Iped” and “plasma tv” as “plausma tv.” The problem here is compounded by the fact that SHE SELLS THE DAMN THINGS!!!! (This makes me realize there should actually be a fourth category of people who should know better but I’m not changing it now.) And others, which I cannot attribute to any one person but they drive me freakin’ nuts are: “jew-lery” instead of “jewelry,” “Old-Timers” for “Alzheimers,” and “for all intensive purposes” as opposed to “for all intents and purposes.”

The last category is the most fun because you already dislike these people. Therefore, it’s a lot more fun to catch them saying something incorrectly and its even MORE fun to correct them. Particularly in a crowd. Here’s where “irregardless” comes in. Or “affidavid.” “Ostensively.” “Preemptory.” “Realator.” (Bonus icky-points here for being pronounced this way by a “realtor” herself.) “Icky points.” Hmmm.

I worked with the most annoying, irritating woman years ago. She thought she was the shit, and we knew she wasn’t. One day, we were discussing the HIV/AIDS crisis and the children who were getting the virus from blood transfusions — you know, the hemophiliacs? Well Miss Thang spoke up and said, “Yeah, it’s really sad. . .I really feel sorry for the little hemoglobins.” Idiot. Another very annoying individual thought it was important to “conversate” about things.

Like I said, there is a line between mispronounced and made-up, and I blurred it a bit today. But you get my point, right? Because it’s spoken in perfect English, right? Right?

Which words get you going?

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