Friday, October 9, 2015

But can you pronounce it?

Thanks to reading voraciously throughout my young life (and semi-voraciously throughout my adult life), I have a prodigious vocabulary (so they say; I personally would never be so vain). Finding just the right word for a thing that I need to describe satisfies some primal need deep inside me. 

Yet for all the words I bandy about in my writing, there are some of them that I admit I have never heard spoken aloud. There are some words that I read regularly but would hesitate to speak aloud myself, because I have no idea how to pronounce them! 

Today, I'm going to set the record straight and finally learn the correct pronunciation for some of these less-uttered words.


I'm sure I heard this spoken at some point in my childhood, because I attached a rather unintuitive pronunciation to it in my mind: "RES-pit." But my confidence in its pronunciation was shaken when a friend in high school  (a fellow voracious reader) spoke it as "Ree-SPITE." So after all these years, I'm finally consulting the dictionary...and it says in America, you should say "RES-pit," although in British English, it is apparently common to pronounce it "RES-pite" which is an odd hybrid pronunciation that I never even imagined.


It's a very useful word to describe the facial expression of someone who is quite angry, in a sulky, not shouty way. But how do you pronounce it? My money is on "GLAH-wer." The dictionary says: I'm right!


Another negative facial expression, this one I always assumed was pronounced "GRIM-iss," much like the McDonald's character. But the same high school friend (I think; it might have been someone else) pronounced it "Grim-ACE," so it's back to the authorities to find out the truth. The correct pronunciation is: either one! Although my way, with the accent on the first syllable, is usually listed first. So far I'm 3 for 3!


This is another word that I always thought was pronounced with the accent on the first syllable until I heard someone else pronounce it differently, making me doubt myself. Is it "KON-flu-ence" or is it "Kun-FLU-ence"? In this one, all the dictionaries seem to agree it's the former... except maybe Webster's, which, if I'm reading their phonetical notation right, indicates that the latter is an acceptable alternative. 


This word has come up so frequently in fiction, I am almost ashamed that I still don't know how to say it out loud. Although I'd guess "Deb-OCK-l" if pressed, it's such a strange spelling that I would hate to have to guess. Fortunately, it looks like all dictionaries clearly indicate the OCK as second syllable to be correct, though opinions vary as to the exact vowel sound for the first. 


I've always been puzzled by this word. I think it's pronounced "ARK-e-type," but one can never be too certain with CH's. Phew. The dictionaries once again have my back.


I know this word from the software company that made Commander Keen back in 1990. But I never bothered to confirm how to say the name...until now. It's, just as you'd probably think, "AP-uh-jee."

And that concludes my list of written words I was hesitant to pronounce! As it turns out, my hesitation was pretty unfounded, because my instincts (or suppressed memories) for each word proved to be correct. So the moral of this story is, If you're uncertain how to say a word, just go ahead and say it. Because 7 times out of 7, you'll get it right. 


LORI said...

Mom got em all right!! yay