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All of these people died on July 1st, but who died first?

Michael Landon
Walter Matthau
Luther Vandross
Marlon Brando

I say, I say, I say


By Miranda

There are words in the English language which I simply cannot say - and I do not mean the four-letter variety which I can pronounce and (oops) have used on occasion. These unseemly words usually have the merit of uncompromisingly easy pronunciation based on phonetically unambiguous spelling, (which may be part of the attraction to habitual users though it is unlikely they first encountered the offending terms in print).

Nor am I referring to the ludicrously long technical terms which litter the sciences. These words exist for a reason and contain a great deal of information but we only need to worry about them when they are used to exclude the non-professional. For that matter, even short and simple medical terms can fuddle the layman (Hint to surgeons - no one outside the profession says 'resect' when they mean 'cut out' so they're just not going to understand you).

Peter Piper picking peppercorns and the various Sister Susies, seashore seashell vendors and pheasant-pluckers are designed to be awkward so I'm not worried about making a mess of them. And either Denis Norden or Frank Muir decoded the Mary Poppins example as 'soup, a cauli, fridge-elastic, eggs, pea, halitosis' - once heard in the My Word context, never forgotten.
No, what I mean are the simple words which fill me with dread, whether I meet them in a text which has to be read aloud, or When I simply have to say them in conversation. There are few lengths to which I will not go to avoid mentioning anything to do with the instrument which measures wind speed.

Not to mention (well, of course, I don't) the so-called 'wind flower' created by Aphrodite from the blood of Adonis, her late lover.
There it is - I get the n's and m's of anemone and anemometer (spellcheck, please) horribly confused.

What's your pronunciation bugbear?


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55 Responses to

I say, I say, I say

artangel4 said:
February 24, 2010 at 9:41 AM

My daughter, when small, had trouble with bridge and hanky(ie!) and pronounced them fridge and kankie. For quite a while we had a lot of B-fridges and H-kankies until the magical day arrived when the announcement was proudly made "Mum, Mum! I don't need to say H-kanky anymore!!" We (like a lot if other families with small children) also saw a vast number of lorries on the road!! Who'd believe a simple word like truck would cause so many parents to blush!!

artangel4 said:
February 24, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Please excuse "if" instead of "of" in previous, my keyboard has occassional difficulties with language!!

magpie35 said:
February 24, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Have heard peeps put a K on the end of K-mark! Patients will often ask for their "X-er-ray fillums" but the word I can't pronounce would be "ophthamologist" and I know that is spelt wrong! As an aussie in the states have to think about what I'm going to say before I start talking "strine" also!

February 24, 2010 at 10:21 AM

I need to get my sharpets campood. Don't know why, when I tell my husband this, that the words come out mixed up each and every time. Very embarrassing. And who doesn't mix up the names of their children? I can be thinking, and visualising the child I want to speak to, but then the other name comes out! Oh, and my Nan eats Macadamian cookies. Is that a race of people, or of aliens?

February 24, 2010 at 10:32 AM

The word I always have trouble with is 'anthropomorphise'. I just can't get past 'anthro', luckily for me my work colleagues know what I'm trying to say. When I was little I couldn't say granddad and called my grandfather 'Glad', it was decades before I realised I was the only one who called him that.

spoggy said:
February 24, 2010 at 3:54 PM

as a nurse assistant, i have a lot of trouble with the word " spasticity " meaning involuntary contraction of the limbs. i also HATE it when people say "aks" instead of ask !

daffydill said:
February 24, 2010 at 5:45 PM

A bugbear of mine is when people don't seem to know the difference between BOUGHT and BROUGHT. I have often seen journalists use these words incorrectly in their news items, too.

Goofygal said:
February 25, 2010 at 7:41 PM

I'm with spoggy re "aks"!! And who can forget that old favourite... "who wants some pasghetti?" That really bugs me!!

drxena said:
February 26, 2010 at 12:41 AM

I have an ex who says aks instead of ask and another who says brang instead of brought. I have trouble saying insulation (inshulashun) and anaesthetist (my brother is one so that's embarassing). I've heard people talk about their prostrate gland, bronical asthma, and those Heroin headache tablets you get at the supermarket.

February 28, 2010 at 5:59 PM

One thing that grates my gears is to I hear people complaining about a case of ammonia not pneumonia

margrad said:
March 01, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Many of the above, + "mischiev(e)ous", could of, would of, etc. One of my funniest memories is of a U.S. exchange teacher attempting to read "Let Stalk Strine" aloud.

beilkenv said:
March 01, 2010 at 3:33 PM

My main word bugbear is medcine instead of medicine. Journalists are the worst at this.

merry50 said:
March 02, 2010 at 10:53 AM

I've read everyone's bug bears and have to agree with many of them, but my greatest bug bear lately, which seems to be a fairly recent one, is our habit of pronouncing "s" as "sh" - even newsreaders refer to us as "Aushtralians"!

kragzy said:
March 02, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Well since we're talking about bugbears... it amuses me when people expand "would've" into "would of". I even heard ABC Reporter Lisa Miller do it once. Laughable. The other one is getting me and I mixed up, e.g. "me and Joe went out" and "give it to Joe and I". It's so easy to get it right - just take the other person out of the sentence: "me went out" and "give to I" are obviously wrong.

artangel4 said:
March 02, 2010 at 2:57 PM

I'm with Kragzy... some of our journalists are the worst offenders when it comes to mangling the English language. Sad when you think of all that wasted education!

annieb said:
April 25, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Late entry as just found blogs.... but for me it's athaletics!

ganojomo said:
April 25, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Another late entry - same reason as annieb's. As well as all of the above, it really annoys me to hear 'million' mangled into 'miyion' and 'Australian' into 'Austrayan'. My other big bugbear is the latest trend, as evinced by most TV news readers, to not speak in sentences. Eg 'a hot day today, when the temperature reached 39 degrees'. Did these people never listen to their English teachers???

April 25, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Extending the conversation on bug bears -'battree' instead of battery, and my all time dislike 'filum' for film. I didn't have much of an education, but my hearing is excellent. News readers and others 'up front and in your face' in public set that example. Monkey see (or hear) monkey do.

CrazyLes said:
April 26, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Has anyone noticed a trend on the ABC to pronounce words like worry, won and frontier with “o” as in hot, rather than “u” as in under? Extremely confusing when it comes to wonder/wander and won/wan which both end up sounding the same. BTW – My Word lives on – 5.30 on Radio National every Thursday morning :)

PetiePoo said:
April 26, 2010 at 10:40 PM

My son spent his entire Prep year singing "Ostrayan doors and dusty doors, our doors are nice and free!" Got to love assembly.

rhve said:
April 26, 2010 at 11:58 PM

When I started school, the principal's name was Miss Ballantyne. I always thought it was Miss Spellingtime, a logical name for a teacher to my five year old mind.

JACCI said:
May 01, 2010 at 4:57 PM

My worst bugbear is "Haitch" instead of "aitch" for the letter H. It really makes me cringe!

dalvan said:
May 02, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Along with all the above.....I seen, I done!

quingi said:
December 10, 2010 at 7:19 AM

cactus and cutlery are two words i have trouble with - always have since i was a child and am 52 now and still have to think before i say them otherwise the words come out the wrong way around

December 11, 2010 at 11:58 AM

I cannot order a chai tea latte at Starbucks. It comes out Tai Chi. Aesthetist should not even be a word in my opinion. It's too close to anesthetist. Although I have had an oxygen facial so maybe they are interchangeable (just kidding). And in time for Christmas: Good King Wences car backed out on a piece of Stephen!