Today’s commonly mispronounced words entry begins with “across”, a word that is likely to provoke a lot of questions from those who are attempting to learn American English with a reduced accent. The reason for this is quite simple: There are many highly educated, working Americans who mispronounce this word on a regular basis without even knowing it, the mispronunciation sounding so natural to their ear that they just assume that it is correct. They may even tell you as much, which can lead to unnecessary confusion.
On the other hand, words such as “escape” and “prerogative” illustrate that many mispronunciation errors can be avoided by studying the first syllable and using it as a starting point when trying to determine how best to pronounce a given word. While studying the word list below, think about not only which words you mispronounce on a regular basis, but any parallels that can be drawn between them. Such as how you may clip the vowel sounds at the beginning of certain words in order to achieve a dialect that is inconsistent with how you normally speak.
(often mispronounced as acrossed or accrost)
Those who are attempting to learn American English has undoubtedly heard the mispronounced form of this word. Frequently written as either “accrossed” or “acrost.”, this mispronunciation is often cited by linguists and those to place a high priority on proper English grammar as epitomizing what is “wrong” with American slang.
Then again, is it even correct to refer to it as a slang or dialect term?
According to the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), the word accrost combines the word across with a n “excrescent t”. In phonetics the term excrescent refers to sounds or letters that are added to English words without etymological justification.
In other words, there is no reason from a purely phonetic standpoint for these letters and/or sounds to exist within the word, yet they contribute to its overall pronunciation. To pronounce this word, isolate the “oss” ending of the word and repeat it as many times as necessary. Emphasize the hissing s sound at the end before saying the word normally.
(often mispronounced as ex-cape)
The word “ex” is a valid prefix that must be mastered as you learn American English with a modified accent. However, this is one of many instances where you must pronounce the “s” in a given word at face value, with a sharp hissing sound.
Mischievous /mis-chuh-vuh s/
(often mispronounced as mischievious)
You might confuse this word with devious and it’s pronunciation. At first glance, this could be considered slightly related to this word. However, remember ‘mischievous’ does not have that extra ‘i’ in the last syllable. It should be pronounced ‘vous’ instead of ‘vious’.
(often mispronounced as nother)
The mispronunciation here from those working to learn American English is normally caused by confusion of the words ‘neither’ and ‘another’. Therefore saying a phrase such as, ‘a whole other’ can prove difficult. When saying this phrase, be cautious and remember that there’s no ‘n’ at the start of ‘other’.
(often mispronounced as perogative)
In those dialects in which the letter “r” doesn’t always take the place of a vowel- seen in the Texas drawl pronunciation of difference:” differnce”, the r in the prefix of the word is often placed before the vowel. Hence the pre spelling in the first syllable.
Let this word serve as a reminder that quite often, the way certain words are spelled and pronounced in English lie in stark contrast from one another. Mainly due to the presence of silent vowels, letters that have been juxtaposed in a fashion that appears to go against common sense, and the influence of social media. The latter indirectly encourages misspellings in the name of conserving typing space. This, in turn, could lead to a higher degree of mispronounced words. It is important to balance your pronunciation practice with consistent exposure to English in its written form so you can compare and contrast how words are spelled versus how they are pronounced, making adjustments when necessary.
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