Tag Archives: Most mispronounced words of 2016

The Most Mispronounced Words of 2016, Part 2

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The US Captioning Company listened to newscasters to find the most commonly mispronounced words during 2016. The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters did the same in the UK. Here is the rest of the list:

6.  Nomophobia  Fear of being without one’s cellphone. This was a biggie on both the US and UK lists. Pronounced no mo PHO be uh.

7. Quinoa  A grain from the Andes. Both US and UK broadcasters had great difficulty pronouncing this word. It’s KEEN wah.

8. Redacted  Censored or blacked out on a document. The Brits had trouble pronouncing this (why?). Not so the Americans, probably because of how frequently it was used when referring to Hillary Clinton’s emails. Parts were revealed but others parts were redacted. You saw those heavy black lines. ree DAK tid.

9. Xenophobia  Fear of foreigners, foreign ideas, and of the people who espouse them. This was Dictionary.Com’s 2016 word of the year.  Zeen uh PHO be uh.  It was often mispronounced on both sides of the Atlantic.

10. Zika  A deadly virus transmitted by mosquitos, sexual contact, and passed from mother to child. It reached epidemic proportions in 2016. ZEE kuh.

If you’ve been mispronouncing any of the words on these two lists, don’t feel too bad. If enough other people also mispronounce them, that pronunciation will eventually become standard. All languages change. Sometimes that change is slow, but at times it happens almost overnight. I’m thinking of homogeneous. The dictionary pronunciation is ho mo JEEN ee is. But I hear huh MAH jin us so often that I’m expecting to see it as an approved pronunciation in dictionaries next week.

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The Most Mispronounced Words of 2016, Part 1

 

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A photo representing hygge

 

The US Captioning Company listened to newscasters to find the most commonly mispronounced words during 2016. The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters did the same in the UK. I’ll take this in two parts so as not to overwhelm you.

1. Chaos Complete disorder; utter randomness. It’s pronounced KAY oss. Most American newsreaders were familiar with this word, but it came up a lot in Britain because of Brexit and caused some pronunciation problems. How wonderful to live in a land where chaos is not an everyday occurrence.

2. Cisgender Relating to people whose self-identity is congruent with the gender of their biological sex. This word got a lot of play because of the North Carolina case involving bathroom choice. It did not appear on the British list. Pronounced CIZZ gen dehr.

3. Hygge From Denmark, the concept of creating a cozy atmosphere that promotes wellbeing. It refers to more than comforters and hot chocolate; it also involves having people around you who relate to you warmly. This was on both lists and is pronounced HUE gah. I’m beginning to see this word fairly frequently.

4. Narcos appeared on both the US and UK lists. Refers to drug traffickers; also the name of a Netflix series about Pablo Escobar. Pronounced NARK ohs. Not sure why it would be mispronounced.

5. Hyperbole Exaggerated claims. US broadcasters rarely had trouble pronouncing this word (perhaps because of the prevalence of hyperbole during the presidential campaign). The Brits often mispronounced it, perhaps because their political discourse is more controlled and sedate than ours. Pronounced hy PER bo lee. (I once taught at a school at which my students told me another English teacher there pronounced it HY per bole. That almost killed me.)

More mispronounced words in my next post.

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