Proper pronunciation, requires use of the right sounds when vocalizing a word and stressing the right syllable. It requires knowing the proper way of saying a word in the region where it is used and accepted by the majority of native speakers. (For this discussion, we will be limited to the English language.)
Note Scroll down to the list and skip this if you like.
Proper articulation involves the correct use of sounds for each letter or grouping of letters. The challenge arises when common rules are ignored due to local custom, slang or uneducated pronunciation.
Occasionally, language takes a left turn. Certain expressions including their mispronunciation become accepted in local language. Since these expressions have a relationship to the way we pronounce words, what consideration should be given to Using Colloquialisms?
Speech mastery requires knowing colloquialisms, local expressions and ways of pronouncing words. It requires knowing their use. Even though you may never say them, the ability to communicate with them may have a profound significance some day.
First, let’s look at correct pronunciation and its application to giving a good speech and eloquent public speaking.
It starts with saying names properly. If you are going to use names, make sure they are pronounced correctly.
Proper Name Pronunciation is essential for speakers being introduced, introducing others, and when using them in their speeches.
Difficult Names need to be considered too.
May I Ax you a question?
To put it in proper perspective, consider one example: many have been genuinely troubled by regional speakers who would ax (ask) a question. The outrage at the misuse of the word may result in sarcasm, retorting with, “Wouldn’t you rather hatchet a question instead?” assuming it would take less energy to use a hatchet than an ax on a question. After all sometimes questions are fragile.
Sorry to ruin your wonderful sarcasm, but the joke is on you. You see, the pronunciation of ax was common till the 1600’s in old English.
So who is wrong? What is the correct way of saying words given any circumstance? Before answering that, let’s look at the price of failure. What ignorance could cost you when it comes to saying it right?
Can you see the affect misuse of the way we say words can have on us? Among the many negative impacts it has are included…
1. It detracts from the dignity of your message.
2. It creates a mental stop sign that causes the retention of your message to be put on hold while the mind sorts out the mistake.
3. It detracts from your dignity.
4. It can destroy your credibility
5. Usage considered uneducated can make you seem uneducated or...
6. Usage considered uneducated can make you look like your making fun of the uneducated which will alienate some in your audience.
It can make for light hearted conversation. But it can also cause heated disputes over what is correct.
General Guidelines: to endear your self to an audience,
1) Best to follow what is accepted as standard by the masses locally.
2) Make sure of Local or regional pronunciation when it comes to names and places.
Some common examples are mother vs moth-ah and father vs fath-ah. Ironically, those same regional native speakers will take names that end with ‘ah’ like Isaiah and substitute er making Isa-er. Regionally this may happen in the North East US, predominantly in New England.
Correct pronunciation can also tell whether you’re an outsider or a local or knowledgeable of local custom. Many have heard of Soho, the art district of New York. If you were visiting and saw Houston Street and pronounced it like you would the name of the city in Texas (Hu-ston), you would have given your self away as an outsider.
However if you pronounced it as House-ton (Thus SO-HO or South of Hous-ton), it might give you an extra 60 seconds before they know you’re a visitor. New Yorkers are quite sharp when it comes to native speakers.
List of Most Common Words With Dual Pronunciation.
The following is a list of the most common words and names with multiple pronunciations. We will start with words and names. We will be continually updating and adding the various pronunciations and additional words and names as submitted. Until completed, check your dictionary. Follow the usage by the majority percentage of native speakers unless demographics dictate otherwise.
Afrikaans (the language with 'cans' as the third syllable vs African's with the short a sound or 'kens' in the third syllable, the possessive of the people or land of Africa.)
aunt (this is a tricky one because of cultural differences)
cache (pronounced the same as cash)(often confused with and mispronounced as cachet)(thanks to Peter from Oregon)
cachet (kaˈ sh ā) Note there are several different meanings.
Cape Verde (from J.M. Philippines)
Chimera (pronounced with a hard K sound like Ky-mere-a)
daylight saving time (its not "daylight savings time")
destroy (DEE stroy vs DES troy)
evolution e'volution ev'olution
Houston (Street, New York City) House-ton
length and strength
library (Some pronounce it libary)
Louisville (often pronounced Loo-iss-ville, Loo-ee-ville proper pronunciation, Loo-a-vull or Loo-vull for natives, depending on
which part of Kentucky you are in.)
pillow (not pellow) (Thanks LeAnn)
Poseidon (the 'o' of 'Po' is silent)
potato (this is often misspelled too)
Realtor ...Some add an additional 'a' making it real-a-tor
salmon ... (thanks Michelle)
Scranton (PA) ... Scran'ton ... Scrant'on...(Native speaker)
sword (thanks Michelle)
tao ... pronounced dow as in Dow Jones
Throop ... (Scranton PA suburb)= Troop (silent h)
vanilla (not vanella)
victory (VIC tree vs VIC to ree vs VIC tor ee)
Zoology Note...this is so often mispronounced that if you pronounce it correctly someone will say you mispronounced it. Using just the letter Z sound and a long o sound is the correct way to say it.
Special thanks to all who are helping to build this list. If you don't mind if I post your name and State, Province, Country, then pleas let me know when you send your suggestions. Just add OK to publish my name, etc or what ever.