Interesting post by Kathryn Lilly at Kill Zone Blog: The “eLight” League, And Other Commonly Mispronounced Words
The fear of mispronouncing a word is one of my secret social anxieties. I grew up in a world where one would be mocked or loftily dismissed for mispronouncing any word in the dictionary. As a child, I loved discovering new words through reading books, but I grew fearful of using them in speech after an unfortunate run in with the word “redolent “. It seemed logical to my 12 year old brain to pronounce it as “re-DOH-lent”. The drubbing I received for that mistake (turns out it’s pronounced “RED-i-lent”) made me phobic about using any fresh word in conversation unless I had looked up the pronunciation in a dictionary first….
Interesting! I thought it was re-DOH-lent, which makes sense because after all, we normally do put the emphasis on the penultimate syllable in English. Is it actually RED-i-lent? Just listened to Google pronounce it for me. I guess it really is RED-i-lent.
Now I’m curious: Which of you knew that? Probably everyone but me.
Which of you would have been disturbed or embarrassed at having pronounced it wrong in public?
I would be mildly embarrassed at pronouncing a word wrong in public, at my age, when I should have had time to notice someone else say the word and thus learn how it’s pronounced. Oddly, I would have been much more embarrassed as a kid, though obviously children haven’t had nearly as long to hear every word in the English language pronounced, so how are they supposed to know?
When it comes to science terms and taxonomy and so on, my philosophy is: Pronounce it with confidence! Everyone will think you’re right. Probably not so useful with words like “redolent” and “elite.”
Also, this: The guy who invented the gif says it’s pronounced “jif”, not “gif” with a hard “g”.
Well, so much for him. Obviously it is pronounced with a hard g. Everyone knows that.
(How do you pronounce gif?)
I will add, for the names of fantasy characters and place names, it’s fine with me however you pronounce it. Absolutely fine. I know how I pronounce Tehre and Mianthe and Eäneté and so on. I almost always go with a hard G for words that start with G, like “gif,” but for me “Gulien” is pronounced with an initial J sound. Just the way I do it. But I don’t mind one bit if every reader in creation pronounces every one of my names differently.
This goes double after reading the linked post. We have ample pitfalls with real English words, evidently. No need to add extra for readers of secondary fantasy.