WATCH: Words Bookworms Mispronounce Because We Read Them First
Anyone who has spent nights during their childhood huddled under a comforter with a flashlight (or more recently a flashlight app) lighting up the splayed pages of a book knows that being a bookworm helps you build the sort of vocabulary that earns you eyerolls on the playground and accolades from the teachers. Yet, dedicated bibliophiles know there’s really only one problem that comes with being a voracious reader.
Books teach us new words, but we’re left to our own devices when it comes to pronunciation. Sometimes, we use phonic clues and do ourselves proud, but then there are the other times . . . when we’re completely at a loss. Did you imagine Harry Potter’s best gal pal had been dubbed Hermey-One right up until book four, when JK Rowling explained the proper pronunciation to you and Viktor Krum at once? Did you assume Anne Shirley wanted Diana Barry to be her bow-some friend?
You are in very good company. Take a look below at some of the words butchered by Dictionary.com fans who admit they learned them while reading.
Banal. You know.
— 🍁ADHDean🍂 (@ADHDeanASL) March 21, 2018
Reggie, Penelope, and Descartes
Names are a tough nut to crack, and not just those of the characters. Authors’ monikers can also leave us scratching our heads. How did you handle Reggie, Penelope, or Descartes when you first encountered them?
Reggie. From the @ArchieComics my sisters and I pronounced it with hard g’s for years!!
— Jennifer Young (@jenwhyme) March 21, 2018
Penelope. Rhymes with antelope.
— Kim Kovarik (@KimKovarik1941) March 21, 2018
Descartes. I thought it was latin, with the first S pronounced and the third syllable "-eez".
— Ian Duncan (@ickidee) March 21, 2018
Admittedly, Rene Descartes was French, which makes his name a bit more complicated for American readers.
Grandiose. I Frenchified it. Something like gran-dwahss.
— Archibald Goodhead (@ArchiGoodhead) March 21, 2018
Sometimes, the trouble begins before you even crack the first page of a childhood classic. Lynne Reid Banks’ Indian in the Cupboard has its stumbling block right in the title. The silent p will get you every time.
Cupboard from Indian in the Cupboard.
— Amazonian Alexa (@AmazonianAlexa) March 21, 2018
But, they’ve got nothing on ph combos that break the rules and actually sound like p. Although, typically this digraph makes an f sound, haphazardly can leave you feeling like the English language was designed, well . . . haphazardly.
— jb (@poutypariah) March 21, 2018
Omnipotent and determined
When you know how to say a word, but then you see it with a prefix or suffix tacked on, it can be confusing to know how to pronounce this version of said word. Do those extra letters change the pronunciation? Often, the answer is yes. Potent and mined are two words that sound very different when they become omnipotent and determined.
omnipotent — age 8 reading 'New Gods' comics, thought it was 'omni potent' !!!
— Christopher Simmons (@tophersimmons) March 21, 2018
— Wavelene Vontania (@spkelly24) March 21, 2018