Words (and expressions) that look or sound funny...

…once you see them in print or hear them pronounced by somebody who knows how.

Title too big to cram into the box, but I hope the mouseover conveys the idea.

One of the first for me was segue which I had seen in print many times, mostly by way of the title of a jazz song or instrumental Segue in C and which I thought should be pronounced seeg or at worst see-ghee. Imagine my surprise when I finally made the connection between that spelling and the pronunciation seg-way!

A guy at work pronounced subtle as sub-tul as if he had never heard sut-tul and made the connection.

Now, my main reason to start this thread. A friend was wondering what word his uncle (or some other relative) was trying to say when he uttered po-du-shay. Any ideas? The term was meant to apply to some extension of a house or other building that served as a roofed area where vehicles could stand to let passengers in or out, shielded from the weather. Something like a porch with no walls, just a roof.

What are some you’ve run across that finally produced the aha! moment when you put the spelling and the pronunciation together?

I’m guessing he meant a porte-cochere.

That’s what we deduced, too. The description matches, but we had trouble converting port-ko-sher into po-duh-shay except by way of some liberal regionalistic mutations passed along by word of mouth without benefit of printed versions interfering at all. (There must be many examples of that going on in words and phrases).

When I was a kid, my parents serves orderves at parties. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered what they actually were were spelled hors d’oeuvres.


It’s the best!

Lake Titicaca.

Hmm…a lake with tits and shit. Sure wanna go swimming there.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

It just seems so unnatural to say it without lisping. And then my mouth is screwed up after saying it.


Or you could Elm her, or Maple her, or Birch her…just seems a weird combo of spelling and pronunciation of a color.

Hamburger meat

Drives me crazy when people say this - as opposed to what, hamburger gravel or hamburger fruit? It is ground beef or hamburger - no need to further elaborate. My rant, but it sounds “funny” to me, and stupid too.

All kinds of French phrases have worked their way into our language, often in bastrardized form.

When I was going arts and crafts in first grade, I had no idea “paper mahSHAY” was actually spelled “Papier-mâché.”

And I sat in a “chaze lownj” hundred of times before I knew it was actually a “chaise longue,” which is French for “long chair.”

But if you want serious words that just SOUND hilarious (as opposed to just LOOKING wrong), well, in my first statistics class at Columbia, there were ALWAYS giggles whenever the professor said that a graph was “homoscedastic.” Apparently, it was still funny after 3 or 4 months as it was on Day One.

po-du-shay is how the french speaking Cajuns pronounce
porte-cochere. Even when I used to be fluent in french, I couldn’t understand them, but that sounds about how they would pronounce it.

Thank you very much. My suspicion all along, but good to have somebody say so.

It was a theory of mine long ago, and I have yet to have an “official” ruling on it, is that the expression “fuckin A touchee” came from a Cajun saying something like “vous connaiz touche’” or something along those lines relating to the touche’ in fencing. Any ideas?

As long as you slip her wood, it’s all good.

Zeldar, would you really see a song titled Segue in C? Segue generally mean to proceed to the next song or movement without pause. It’s usually not a piece in its own right. That would be like saying “Meet me at 6:00 at turn left at the light.”

Both Basie and Ellington had numbers with that title. Check it out.

Interesting. Although all I found was one song by that name, played by both of them.

Paradigm. My mother was always pronouncing it “pair-ah-didge-um” I was always correcting her, then when I had the opportunity to use it myself I pronounced it the way she did without thinking, the person I was talking to said I think that’s pronounced “pair-a-dime”. D’oh! I blamed my mother, of course.

Thinking back, I can’t even remember why we were talking about paradigms. It’s not exactly a word you get to use everyday.

That could well be. I can’t hum the tune, but it seems reasonable that only one with such a screwy name (I agree with your assessment of its validity) was “written” and that several bands probably played it at one time or another.

The sad thing about this yarn is that I pronounced it “seeg” ON THE AIR! That’s why the realization of how it should have been said annoys me to this day. That was in the early 60’s for what that’s worth.

“Paradigm Shift” maybe? That was a big two-dollar buzzword and part of corpspeak back in the 80’s. That, along with “mindset” were fancy ways of saying opinion or belief or hangup. God, there were too many of those things!

Here 'tis, you hear: Segue In C - Lucas-Bernetti-Rosker Trio - Jazz Club Olivos

No idea, however, it sorta tickles a memory of some cajun I can’t quite remember…

When I read about “molestation” it shows up in my inner ear as “mole station.”

One of my cow-orkers pronounces “consignee,” as “con sig nee” instead of consign - ee. Since we are in international shipping the word comes up a lot. Makes me crazy.

Good ones. Some that bug me when I see them in print are: gunshy, barfly, infrared, and, believe it or not, does.