Many of our clients at Accent Pros, who come in for accent reduction sessions, have advanced degrees and have excellent command of the English language. Given the evolving state of the English language; however, they may mispronounce informal slang and phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Occasionally our accent reduction clients will understand the meaning of a given word or phrase but mispronounce it and/or use it in an improper context. This could potentially have embarrassing consequences. In our continuing efforts to feature only the most relevant and practical terms when helping you on your accent reduction goals, here is a list of some commonly mispronounced words and phrases that have become standard shorthand in the workplace.
Alzheimer’s Disease /ahlts-hahy-merz dih-zeez/
(often mispronounced as Old-timer’s disease)
Unlike the majority of the words featured on this list, your accent reduction coach will not consider a verbal error of this nature a true mispronunciation. More of an inappropriate remark that has a chance to be misconstrued as discriminatory in today’s politically correct society. Therefore while it is true that Alzheimer’s disease primarily affects the elderly, calling it old-timer’s disease is a negative association that could offend those who have a loved one currently afflicted with disease.
The disease is named after neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer, who in 1901 met a patient named Auguste Deter. Deter was suffering from a variety of symptoms which we now characterize as being common to Alzheimer’s disesease.
Deter was held at the Frankfurt asylum until her death on April 8th, 1906. Alzheimer subsequently had Deter’s brain shipped to Frankfurt, where he worked with a team of researchers to study the plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles that serve to collectively deteroriate a brain with Alzheimers. Get in the habit of pronouncing Alzheimer’s correctly by combining the z and h together in a quick, explosive sound that is similar to “za,” and then adding the final syllable -heimer’s
(often mispronounced as Feb-yuary)
As we’ve discussed in previous articles in this series, lots of people, regardless of the stage they find themselves in with their accent reduction program, find it hard to pronounce a consonant immediately succeeding another consonant. This same habit is seen in the speaking habits of native English speakers, which is why the ‘r’ is often disregarded.
If this word is proving to be a challenge for you, try saying the word per syllable first, then start blending the consonants together and saying the word faster as you get used to saying the ‘r’ leading off the .
Federal /fed-er-uh l/
(often mispronounced as fed-ral)
Although the two-syllable version of this word may sometimes be acceptable when speaking rapidly, using this pronunciation consistently could leave the impression that you are unaware of the proper pronunciation of the word. The word has three distinct syllables, the most important being the middle “er.” Break the word down according to syllable and make a concentrated effort elongate the aforementioned er syllable. Work on pronouncing this sound in isolation before saying the word in its entirety at normal speed.
If you notice you have a tendency to shorten 3 syllable words into 2 and 2 syllable words into one, you may want to discuss with your accent reduction coach the situations in which these mispronunciations occur. There is a chance that stress and anxiety could be causing you to lapse back into your natural speaking habits when faced with an uncomfortable situation.
(often mispronounced as fill-um)
Again, another mispronunciation that occurs regularly due to two consonants being placed together. Resist the urge to add a vowel in between those consonants. Instead, concentrate on saying ‘fill’, then add a long ‘m’ sound.
Accent Reduction: Commonly mispronounced Words Series
Accent Pros has a continuing series featuring a variety of accent reduction tips, including pronunciation breakdowns for a host of common English phrases and American idioms. Be sure to check out other accent reduction blog posts to find your favorites. Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening? Check out our on-line accent reduction courses available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other accent reduction tips. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on TwitterPlease take a moment to share and like this free content.