centimeters / sonometers are both pronunciations still correct?

My mom was a RN Nurse for ten years and then a Nurse Anesthetist for 35 years. She always says sonometers instead of centimeters.

Are new people in the medical field still taught to pronounce it that way?

Is there any history behind the alternative pronunciation?

This discussion from another message board suggests that it has something to do with the French.

My wife is also an RN and does the same thing–actually my wife pronounces it as “sahnt-o-meter.”

When I asked her why she does this, she insists that it’s the correct pronunciation because the word comes from French. My response has always been that the word is now totally English, and we don’t pronounce other words (like restaurant) that come from French in an exaggerated faux-French manner. Nobody else in the scientific community in the U.S. pronounces it this way, including chemists and physicists who use the unit routinely.

Personally, I think it’s a hypercorrection that has spread through the nursing schools in this country. Right out of the wikipeida article, hypercorrections like these are “often combined with a desire to seem formal or educated,” which I attribute to an inferiority complex that some nurses have around physicians.

Some of the other medical professions (including physicians, who should know better) have picked it up from the nurses.

If nurses are now pronouncing it as “sahn-o-meter,” dropping the “t” sound per the OP, then the hypercorrection is getting worse instead of diminishing.

It’s a Latin prefix, not a French one. Why would you pronounce it as the French?

Because the SI got started by the French, not the Romans?

Well, centimeter is a System International unit. The System International is an improved derivation of the metric system. The metric system was created in…France.

…and was scooped right here in GQ, I see.

And it’s not even the proper French pronunciation.

Hence the whole “hypercorrection” discussion above.

Indeed, my wife insists on correcting me when I say it properly.

Last time I was in France everyone pronounced the T. I occasionally listen to French radio or TV and they still pronounce it. In French it’s son-ti-mett-ruhs.

ETA: a sonometer is something quite different.

And they used the Romans’ language (and the Greeks’). If they wanted to pronounce it as it originally was, they should give it a hard c.

They wouldn’t pronounce the s at the end.

Quite correct.

There was a discussion on the SDMB years ago about this. For some reason, at some point, nursing schools began teaching student nurses to pronounce “centimeter” as if the first vowel was a broad “a.” It thus sounded like “sontimenter.” If someone knows how to search thoroughly enough, you can find the thread from years ago about this.

True. Google Translate, for one, is useful in such cases. Example:

I’ve never heard of “sonometre,” but I’m not around anyone in the medical field. On a related note, why is “kilometre” often (but not always) pronounced with the “metre” part as “mitter,” even though this is never done to centimetres, millimetres, etc.? At least in Canada, it’s the common pronunciation for more casual uses like giving road directions.

My buddy’s wife is an MD and she pronounces it that way (sohnt-a-meter). She was never a nurse, btw. Is this strictly a nurse thing, or do doctors generally pronounce it that way, too?

IANA medical anything. But as a patient I’ve never heard a US doc use any pronunciation other than CENT-ih-Mee-ter with “cent” sounding like “sent” as in mailed, and “meter” sounding just like gas meter, volt meter, etc.

My experience with other medical personel in an office setting is the same. I’ve avoided hospitals so far, so I can’t offer anecdote on that.

OTOH, it’s an utter mystery to me why almost everybody refuses to pronounce kilometer correctly, e.g. KILL-oh-Mee-ter, and also why they think the “gram” part of KILL-oh-Gram is both silent *and *invisible. Grrr. Bugs the heck outta me.

In that sense I guess iI’m glad the metric system isn’t really used in the US. Means I don’t have to hear that ignorance every day.

My wife is an RN and she (and all the other nurses I know) pronounce it Cent-o-meter. The only folks I’ve heard saying Sahn-o-meter are MDs.

I’ve been in med. transcription classes for almost a year now, and about half of the dictators (pathologists, specialists, radiologists) say cent-i-meters and the other half say sahn-ah-meters.

Who cares if someone is a nurse or a Ph.D., it 's cent- a meter.

While I’m at it, it’s not kilom-e-ter, it’s kil-o-meter. Look at it this way, would you say kilog-gram or kilo-gram?

It all has to do with education…

Poll: How do you pronounce ‘Kilometer’?