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I won’t trouble you with a lecture covering how some of the words you use actually aren’t words at all.
If you’re using words like “snuck,” “brang,” or “irregardless,” (no, none of those are real words) a magazine article – much less one written by me – is not going to solve your problems.
What I will do is offer up a rudimentary form of help, in terms of how to properly pronounce relatively common words that are bound to show up in your daily life.
These tips will not seal the deal in a job interview or on a date (I can especially vouch for the “date” scenario) but if pronunciation continues to be a potential chink in your armor, your problems will soon be solved. the ten most important words you should learn to pronounce, if you would like to appear reasonably knowledgeable about your own language.
This word and its evolutionary course in American vernacular could be a cultural study unto itself.
For a while, nobody was aware that the ‘T’ was silent; this sneaky caveat had to be beaten into our brains for years and years in school. At some point, the rational people of Earth decided to flip over the Buffet Table of Reason at the Banquet for Intellectual Hope and thought it best to, once again, simply start pronouncing the ‘T’ in “often.” I do not know whether this was brought on by an innate human desire to flout the rules of our world or just a collective hatred for all things associated with the establishment but it is now arguably the most frequent linguistic speed bump in the history of hyperbole.
But then – in what can best be described as the greatest grammatical epiphany since someone decided that we needed a contraction to turn “I am” into a single word – people seemed to universally scream out “”. And I would like to lead the charge to restore balance.
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This may have been more helpful before the media blitz that was the Summer Olympics but it is a very valuable lesson to have for the future. Yes, a three-for-one deal, but only because this one is dually very common and very simple to fix. Also: the yuppie kids will I’m going to try to get through this one without a President Bush joke.
It applies to “athlete” and any derivative (biathlon, triathlon, decathlon, etc.) and, honestly, I’m sad that I even have to point this out: there is no vowel between the ‘H’ and the ‘L’ in any of these words. For some reason, we of the English tongue have an obsession with changing any ‘S’ to an ‘X’, if it follows an ‘E’ sound; call it the Exxon Indoctrination. All right, so, despite the fact that it’s 2008, this is a word with which we’re somehow still struggling. In a bizarre twist, people actually became so certain of this word’s meaning that they alter its pronunciation to reflect that definition.
Like most of the words on this list, “nuclear” is spelled EXACTLY AS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRONOUNCED and yet, people continue to screw it up worse than the War in Iraq… Overlooking the fact that many people also seem to have precisely no idea as to the latter word’s true definition (I’ve had several conversations where people bizarrely substitute “prerogative” for words like “agenda”), this is another problem that can be attributed to ignorance in the arena of “Sound It Out, You Lummox.” The ‘R’ comes before the ‘E’ in both of these words. Yes, “utmost” is an adjective synonymous with “greatest” (a term that immediately calls to mind some tangible Mount Olympus-type of vertical hierarchy and the word “upper”) but that second letter? educated in your excruciating political debates as we approach November 3.