Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pismonunciation of Worms

Hello folks. Time for another instalment of word-related blatherings.
Those among you who lived in England in the 60s, 70s and 80s will doubtless remember the TV 'The Two Ronnies' and possibly remember that the title of today's blog is taken from one of the skits starring the silver-tongued Ronnie Barker, doing a PSA for a fictional charity for people who cannot 'spray their worms' correctly. Look it up on YouTube.

A while ago (about 15 years) I read a book called "There Is No ZOO In Zoology" by Charles Harrington Elster, who also wrote "Is There A Cow In Moscow?". I love books like this, full of trivial factoids about words. I thought today I would go over some of the words in our beloved shared language that are most often mispronounced or mangled. Let's start with some that set my teeth on edge.

Antarctic / Arctic. There's a 'c' in there: pronounce it! It's not 'Artic'!

Ask. This is not an instrument for chopping wood.

Business. A lot of folks, especially Southerners, like to pronounce this one 'bidness'. These are usually the same people who will order a Caesar salat and tell you to have a goot day. They're also likely to tell you it's a doggy-dog world and they've been shopping for some new close, which they will likely store in their chester drawers. They prolly say wadn't and volumptuous, too.

Suit. As in bedroom suit, living room suit. You don't wear it, so it's a suite. Pronounced 'sweet'. You don't see guys shopping for a new sweet and tie, do you?

Et cetera. The number of times I've heard this one said 'ick cetera'.

Even educators are not immune from this sort of stuff. I was shocked to see in my daughter's classroom at school, a list of class rules, which implores them at one point to mind their 'manors'. I felt like saying, these kids don't live in manors, because if they did, they'd probably go to private schools.

Feb-yu-ary. Ack. There's an 'R' in it. Feb-ru-ary.

Mauve. It's a French word, so no mawvs please. Mow-v. Like mow, as in mow the lawn. Mow-v.

Moot point, not mute point. If it was mute you wouldn't be able to hear it.

If you are sued for libel, you will be liable for the damages.

Mischievous. People tend to put the accent on the second syllable, as in mis-CHE-vous, or worse, they add an extra syllable, mis-CHEE-vi-ous. It's accented on the first syllable, MIS-che-vous.

And lastly, from one of my favourite scenes from the sitcom Friends, the old chestnut supposably. It's 'supposedly'.

Alright, rant over. Go about y'alls bidness. Have a goot one.


  1. Excellent stuff- next time get on to grammar and spelling!

  2. Oh. Wow. I have a coworker who commits each of those detestable errors. In addition, she has picked up the phrase "and whatnot." I think back to Samantha Baker telling Farmer Ted that life is not whatnot. It drives me bonkers.
    Also learned in the '80s, Rick Springfield taught me about points being moot.

  3. Yes, "Jessie's Girl" very good for the erudite among us.


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