Words You’ve Never Heard Pronounced

When I was a kid, I was reading a book to my youngest sibling, and came across the phrase “battling behemoths”. I proceeded to pronounce the second word as “BEE-huh-moths”, the last syllable identical to the term for butterfly-like creatures. My mother corrected me with a pronunciation similar to this.

meaning what?

Yeah, I agree. There is no definitive way to pronounce anything, hasn’t been since before the Great Vowel Shift or when there were dozens of ways to spell “scissors”. And folks who think otherwise are being plaguey.

To me, “general” does rhyme with “mineral.” Why would Gilbert be taken to task for that?

The one I still find hard to believe is that officially formidable is stressed on the first syllable. It still sounds wrong to me.

Complicating the whole question are the heterophonic homonyms, different words spelled the same and pronounced differently, of which I once got a list of over 100 examples. Possibly the oddest one: ask and economist and chemist to pronounce unionized. They can’t even agree which indefinite article should be used with it.

A unionized company vs. an unionized solution.

I’ve heard both of those pronunciations of turmeric and never knew which was correct.

One of my cats is named Calliope. Ka-LIE-uh-pee. She had a vet appointment a while back and when I went to check in with the receptionist I said “I have Calliope here.” The receptionist looked puzzled at her screen for a minute and then said “Oh, I was pronouncing that way wrong in my head!” :laughing: I didn’t get a chance to ask her how she was pronouncing it. Kalie-ope maybe?

Speaking as a life-long labor supporter - A unionized company is a unionized solution! :stuck_out_tongue:

You say “meneral”? Or “gineral”?

I heard that word pronounced cally-ope on a TV show a while back. I always thought it was KA-lie-uh-pee, so I got out the big dictionary. Cally-ope was the first pronunciation, with Ka-lie-uh-pee the second.

The one that grinds my gears is mischievous. There is no i after the v, and it is not pronounced mis-chee-vee-us! I have yet to find a dictionary (print or on-line) that gives that (mis)pronunciation!

Yes, the rhyme is somewhat slant, but slant rhyme is good. Perfectly acceptable in serious verse and even moreso in some silly musical’s lyrics.

That’s bizarre. It’s for-MID-able in the OED and other UK dictionaries, and MW has it with for-MID as the second acceptable pronunciation at least, but they do have it with FOR-mid as the first option. Never in my life have I heard anyone say it that way.

Turmeric is an odd one, because all the dictionaries say tur-, but although I’ve heard that, ty-oo-meric is also a common pronunciation in the UK, and the one I grew up with. Turmeric as it’s written is obviously correct, but I find it hard to say right.

It can also add to the humour aspect because your mind is expecting certain words and it encounters a different one, but it still fits, so, surprise!

There’s that, and it also gives you a whole slew more of words to choose from, plus it also “softens” the sing-songiness of perfect rhymes. Strong perfect rhymes line after line can sound overbearing and nursery-rhyme-ish. I prefer judicious use of alliteration, assonance, and near-rhyme. But I think I might be straying a bit with those thoughts.

Yes. Yes, I do.

It is said that a gentleman is a guy who can play the bagpipe, but doesn’t. The same can be said for one who knows how to use the word horripilation ,but doesn’t. A huge vocabulary is less useful than it looks, sometimes.

Absolutely agreed. Slant rhymes subvert expectations, but also create a rhythm that’s more like a dance than hopping from left to right.

When I visited Australia about 10 years ago I toured the Old Melbourne Gaol. I knew it was an old prison, but I had no idea what a “gaol” was or how that word was pronounced. It wasn’t until well after I’d returned home that I figured out it’s simply an alternative way of spelling “jail”, predominantly used in the UK and Australia from what I gather.

I only relatively recently learned that “slough” is pronounced like “slew”, at least around here when it’s used to describe a wetland. I keep wanting to pronounce it to rhyme with “dough”. And I have no idea how the town in England with the same spelling is pronounced, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the same.

Slow to rhyme with now.

There was a TV show about the apocalypse in the UK, set in Slough (miniseries, terrible ending, I hated it and think nobody should ever watch it), that was called Apocalypse Slough until they realised that not everyone would get the pun.

I say it as FOR-mid-able. People who put the stress on the second syllable sound weird to me.

I hope you’re not also one of those people who says sek-sual. I just listened to an audiobook (history-based) where that word came up a lot and it made my skin crawl.