Saying it wrong, every time
January 29, 2007 7:15 AM Subscribe
I know some people who just can’t seem to get the hang of correctly pronouncing uncommon words, no matter how many times they hear the correct way. These are intelligent, educated people, and at least one is an avid reader, but for some reason they constantly, repeatedly, stumble over certain words. Is there a name for this?
posted by mauglir to Writing & Language (72 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Very often, these are non-English words that have been adopted into English usage. I don’t think these are cases of regional dialect or accent, such as “wash” and “warsh,” these are things like “fah-jite-aw” for fajita.
Another example comes from the game Go, which a friend and I play regularly at our local Go club. The game that has many simple Japanese terms such as “komi” (a number of points given to one to player as a compensation for not getting the first move in the game). The correct pronunciation is KO-mee (ko-MEE with the accent on the second syllable might be more correct to Japanese ears), but this friend always, always, always says KAW-mee, which is unquestionably wrong. Other Go players, including me, have corrected him countless times, but he never says it right.
A couple other examples of this I’ve heard (not necessarily from the person above):
soup du jour, “soup DUH-jur”
I’m sure I’ve heard other examples. Again, I don’t think this is a case of fumbling a totally unfamiliar word, which is something everyone does, but continuously mispronouncing words no matter how many times the correct pronunciation is heard.
I’ve Googled some terms like “phonetic recognition”, but most of the articles I’ve found are about child development.
Is this something that has a name?