Everyone keeps telling you that you should be a writer and that you’re an ace at literature. It gets to your head. You start believing your own hype. And that’s the moment that somebody tells you that you’ve been completely mispronouncing some of the words you’ve learned from reading. Embarrassing? Yup! Something that’s happened to a lot of us? Double yup!
When Andree Lau asked Twitter to share some of the words they’ve been mispronouncing the entire time, people responded with gusto. And their answers are amazing and bound to make you giggle. Scroll on down and upvote your fave pronunciations, dear Pandas. If you feel up for sharing, let us know what words you’ve been saying wrong in the comment section (personally, I’d been saying ‘Hermione’ like Viktor Krum until Book 4 of HP).
"Pronunciation is hard even for native speakers, especially when it comes to less-common words like “epitome.” I’ve known lots of people who learned words by reading, not by hearing, and so had no idea how they were pronounced. But for people learning English, pronunciation can be a real nightmare," Lisa McLendon, the News and Information Track Chair and the Coordinator at the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas School of Journalism, told Bored Panda. Read on to learn more about chaotic English pronunciations, Pandas.
According to McLendon, the English language has words that are spelled similarly but pronounced differently (for example, bomb, comb, and tomb), as well as words that are spelled differently but sound the same (like peek, peak, and pique). "Plus, English has a lot of words that have silent letters, which can be confusing," the language expert explained.
We wanted to find out if the rules governing English pronunciations were a lot different than those found in other languages. McLendon stressed that in terms of how spelling reflects pronunciation and vice versa, English pronunciation is "a lot more chaotic."
McLendon detailed: "English is a Gallic overlay on a Germanic base, plus it has borrowed liberally from languages all around the world throughout is development. So when a word comes into English, where it comes from, and when a spelling gets standardized all affect how a word is written in relation to how it sounds."
McLendon noted that other languages may not be exactly "spelled like it sounds," however, they have set patterns of how pronunciation doesn't correspond with spelling.
Before you start feeling bad about making mistakes when it comes to English, it’s best to remember that the language has errrr ‘some’ irregularities when it comes to spelling and pronunciation. That’s why just reading or just watching English TV shows is never enough!
The poem ‘The Chaos’ by Dutch writer, traveler, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité (aka Charivarius) perfectly illustrates the disconnect between spelling and pronunciation.
The poem includes around 800 examples of irregular spelling and you can read it right here. Better yet, declaim it out loud for everyone to hear! But be careful not to break off your tongue, native speaker or not.
English words mainly derive from old German and Norman French. While pronunciations of all 3 languages have changed enormously since 1066, it’s English that stands out with its unreliable pronunciation and very varied spellings for identical sounds.
According to The English Spelling Society, the consistency of English spelling started getting corrupted after it was reinstated as the official language of England in the 15th century.
The bible wars of the following century also meant that English consistency was thrown off course even more by foreign printers. Allegedly, there hasn’t been a coordinated attempt to try and remove all the corruptions in the English language. This is why some foreign students still find English to be a chaotic and beautiful headache.