What words that people mis-pronounce that drive you nuts?

Rex Bachmann

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A number of the objects of peeves cited above in this thread are examples of so-called malapropism.
Malapropism is, broadly speaking, the use of the wrong word---usually one that has a similar, but not the exact, phonetic shape as the replaced word---in a given expression without the user's knowledge that the use of that wrong word, if taken literally, might, but needn't, substantially change (the listener's interpretation of) the meaning of the expression. Malapropisms arise when native speakers re-interpret a form in their language as being another form whose meaning seems to fit in the same context (e.g., in a given expression or compound word). Malapropisms may start with so-called "pronunciation errors" (actually a sound change), but they involve the speaker trying to make some meaning of the product of that "error", and re-interpreting what the meaning units are in the output.
"wrecking havoc" (possible because wreak is, for all intents and purposes, an obsolete verb)
"Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast."
This one looks literary in origin. Since breast and beast have completely different vowel-sounds but are almost identical in spelling, some speaker(s) apparently thought beast went better with savage than breast and ---[poof!]---the learned saying was given a substantially different meaning).
transparency vs. opacity
Transparency involves the ability of the native speaker to analyze the phonological strings ("word forms") in his native language into discrete units of meaning.
For example, unceremoniously can be analyzed by almost any mature native speaker into un- 'not' + ceremony 'set of related actions performed according to rote on given special (often religious) occasions' + -ous (derivational adjectival suffix) + -ly (adverbial suffix indicating manner of action). So, we would say that unceremoniously is a transparent form composed of four lexical units, three of them being affixes. It is secondarily derived from the adjective unceremonious, which itself is derived from the adjective ceremonious, which, in turn is derived from the noun ceremony.
Note that, once any such form is broken down into its base components, those components themselves are, or may be, opaque, meaning that they themselves cannot be broken down into further meaningul units within that language system.
Ceremony, the base form of the derived lexeme, can't be analyzed "ceremon-" + "-y". It is a prime, and therefore opaque.
A good example for a sound change ("pronunciation error") to lead to malapropism is that of whet 'to sharpen' (as in whetstone, related to the verb whittle).
From the expression "to whet one's appetite" has come the malapropism "to wet one's appetite".
This one comes about as a result of dialectal sound change ("mispronunciation"), pure and simple. In some upper midwest U.S. dialects the sounds represented by and , respectively, have "merged", which is to say the -sound has gone lost, in all the words that formerly had [wh]. So, before this change took hold, there were distinct sounding words (verb) 'to sharpen' and (adj.) 'drenched in moisture', or 'to drench in moisture' (verb). Once the sound change happens---and it happens in every word that begins with ---homophony results, that is, the sequence comes to mean both 'to sharpen' and 'to drench in moisture'. Thus, to the speakers of that dialect it's [wet] either way, and since appetite usually involves salivation in mouth, the linguistic scenario is set up for substiting 'sharpen the appetite' to 'drench in moisture because of appetite'. This may have been helped along by the expression "to wet one's whistle", also involving salivation. (I can't decide whether this, too, was originally whet, instead of wet.)
Likewise, for Wimpy ("I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.") vs. whimpy or
wacky for whacky (as in whacked out, from the verb whack 'to distort or dislodge violently').
What all this means is that, if a word isn't used much in the language any more, its meaning in the one or two contexts in which it still is used may go lost on the speakers.
Steve Elias wrote (post #81):
[I said:
Bolshevik[/I]]Quote:
In this case, I'm surprised they didn't come up with "kiddie garden". That would be more appropriate thing to do with a foreign word like Kinder ('kids').
 

Scott Giles

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I'd bet this is not a common mis-pronunciation, but how about the word "calculate"?

I know someone in the habit of saying "cock-ulate".

At first I thought it was purposeful and his way of being funny. So, I played along, even mis-pronoucing a few words with some humor injected myself. Then I realized he wasn't trying to be funny - as he would say it that way in front of his clients! I stopped trying to find funny pronunciations to use around him.
 

sarahanne6969

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ive heard that am-bu-lance is mispronounced as am-bru-lance

im one of the people who mispronounce it lol

a few that i also have a hard time with is remember....i pronounce it as re-nember, banana i pronounce as a-nana, grandma/grandpa i pronounce as ganma/ganpa, and theres a few others but those are the ones i can think of off the top of my head
 

Jay Taylor

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I pronounce Troll as get-a-life
 

Bryan X

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I absolutely hate it when people say or write "prolly" instead of "probably."
 

Ockeghem

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Has 'nucular' (as opposed to nuclear) been mentioned yet? Another one is 'realitor' (as opposed to realtor).
This isn't quite the same thing, but I thought I would mention it. You frequently hear people say "Where's the cards?" or "There's the girls" (or something similar). It's even becoming more common for people to write out the error, even though the mistake is staring them right in the face. When I hear it, I will often say the reverse to see if anyone notices. For example, "Where are the car?" or "Where are the boy?" just to see if anyone notices.
 

Lex

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What bugs me the most is the misuse of the word "presentate".

ie. I have a presentation to do to day, therefore I have to presentate.

IT'S PRESENT, PEOPLE, NOT PRESENTATE!!!!!!
 

Ockeghem

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Lex said:
What bugs me the most is the misuse of the word "presentate".
ie. I have a presentation to do to day, therefore I have to presentate.
IT'S PRESENT, PEOPLE, NOT PRESENTATE!!!!!!
Hey, I thought you and I were going to conversate?
 

Marianne

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Herb is pronounced herb, not erb (unless you are speaking French in which case the spelling is herbe).
If you are not going to pronounce the 'h' in herb, then you shouldn't pronounce the 'h' in hotel either.
 

Steve Christou

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Russell G

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You are all aware of dialects right? Eastern Canadians pronounce "Three" as "tree" (think Pirate talk) and all of England has lost the "r" sound so "cars" sounds like "Cahs"
So it's not really mis-pronouncing, it's just that language in certain areas has changed no?
That said, my stupid hoser accent makes "duty" sound like "doody"
 

John Gido

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Bryan X said:
I absolutely hate it when people say or write "prolly" instead of "probably."
+1

Another one that does it for me is "axe" instead of "ask".
 

Marianne

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Russell G said:
... and all of England has lost the "r" sound so "cars" sounds like "Cahs"
Yeah, I really hate the way the English have butchered the American language.

BTW some English dialects do pronouce the "r".
 

Jeff Gatie

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Marianne said:
Herb is pronounced herb, not erb (unless you are speaking French in which case the spelling is herbe).
If you are not going to pronounce the 'h' in herb, then you shouldn't pronounce the 'h' in hotel either.
It may honestly take me thousands of hours to repudiate this statement, but on my honor, I will. If only for the sake of my heirs.

But seriously, I pronounce the 'H' in "herbs" just like the Brits pronounce it in "hello."
 

Bryan X

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In the dictionary I have, the first listed pronunciation for "herb" is without the "h".

Here's an excerpt:

"In American English, herb and herbal are more often pronounced without the h, while the opposite is true of herbaceous, herbicide, and herbivore, which are more often pronounced with the h."

"In British English, herb and its derivatives, such as herbaceous, herbal, herbicide, and herbivore, are pronounced with h."
 

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