Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why We Mispronounce Words: From Carpool Tunnel Syndrome To Mute Points

Virtually everyone has one – a word you find out you’ve been mispronouncing. (artbystevejohnson/Flickr)
Virtually everyone has one – a word you find out you’ve been mispronouncing. (artbystevejohnson/Flickr)

Have you been known to tell your friends, “well that’s a mute point!” or perhaps you’ve started a sentence with “for all intensive purposes.” If so, you’re one of the millions of us who occasionally mispronounces, misspells or misunderstands a word or phrase.

As part of our occasional series about words and how we use them, Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to Ariel Goldberg, director of Tufts University’s Psycholinguistics & Linguistics Lab about what goes on in our brains when we undertake the complex task of speaking.

Here are 10 of our favorite responses on Twitter:

— Kristin Williams (@ckwilliams22) July 9, 2015

@hereandnowrobin Until a few years ago I thought posthumous was pronounced post humous. It really makes more sense, right?

— Mallory Righter (@maux_maux) July 9, 2015

— Jonathan Spencer (@JonASpencer) July 9, 2015

@hereandnowrobin I mispronounced “faćade” until my exit project advisor in college corrected me. I was a landscape architecture major…

— Bert Manning (@clemsontgr84) July 9, 2015

— Joey Renken (@JoeRenken) July 9, 2015

@hereandnow one of my instructors in the #USAF used the word ‘nayvet’. I asked him what that means. He pointed to the word naïveté… Lol

— Lars Bruchmann (@pilotlars) July 9, 2015

— katherine cooper (@kcooper1203) July 9, 2015

@hereandnow As a kid, I pronounced ‘niches’ as ‘neetches,’ like some sort of creature from a Dr. Seuss book.

— Amy Clark (@TheatreGeekAmy) July 9, 2015

— Wolf Wackeroth (@wlfmw) July 9, 2015

@hereandnow UNKA-knee [uncanny]

— boygobong (@boygobong) July 9, 2015

Guest

Related

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.