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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

You're Saying It Wrong

You're Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words--and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse - Ross Petras, Kathryn Petras

Subtitle: A pronunciation guide to the 150 most commonly mispronounced words and their tangled histories of misuse.

 

It's pretty straightforward: a word per page, with the correct usage, how it's mispronounced and this historical reasons for both the correct and incorrect usage, sometimes more speculative, sometimes more factual.

 

I was off to a rip-roaring start with the first word:  acai, which I've always pronounced (although always suspected in error) ah-KAI, when it is actually supposed to be ah-sigh-EE.  But I'm happy to say that I've been pronouncing most of the 150 correctly (although not always; I remember a few of these mispronunciations from my childhood).  There are a couple of words here that MT and I have debated over the years (as he's an Aussie, I'm a Yank) and it turns out that at least one of them he has been right about all this time.  Shhh... don't tell him.

 

The authors take care to mention in the introduction that as this is a pronunciation guide, (and they are Americans) they are focusing on the American pronunciations, although they do use the OED as a main source and occasionally point out where the UK differs.

 

The biggest surprise to me was "spitting image" (they throw in a few common phrases).  If you have ever used this phrase (or spittin' image if you're from the South), like I have, you've been saying it wrong.  The original, and correct phrase is spit and image.  Nobody knows why but it is clearly the historical usage winner.  I'm also rather appalled that I've been mispronouncing Van Gogh's name all these years and my BFF lives in the Netherlands and has not corrected me!  (It's van GOKH or van KOKH, roughly).  

 

Written in a laid back style that doesn't take itself seriously, but is still very well researched, with a notes section in the back, this is a handy little reference for those times when you're just not sure you're saying it right, or if you're in the midst of a lively debate with, say, your husband from another country.  Just make sure you look it up before he does.