EXTRAORDINARY: Is it [ik-STRAWR-dn-er-ee] with 5 syllables, or [ek-struh-AWR-dn-er-ee] with 6 syllables??


There are some words that are just a mystery until you research them.  Over and over again you and I have stumbled upon the word extraordinary.   If we’re reading out loud for some reason we may pause just a moment to ask ourselves which direction we are going to go. Some people pronounce the word […]

OFTEN : frequently


    You may be scratching your head and asking yourself why I would choose such a common, easily-understood word as the focus of today’s blog posting.   I don’t blame you. But the reason I chose the word often is that it may well be one of the most mis-pronounced words in American English.   It […]

ERR [ur]: to stray, to drift away from the stated purpose


I have to be honest and say that my primary purpose for featuring the word err today is not about its definition; it is about its pronunciation.   Just about everyone knows that to err is to make a mistake, to wander away from an intent. The supposedly biblical phrase is so often quoted: “To err […]

VASE: Is it [veys] or [vahz] ?


It isn’t really the serious academic debate one might expect it to be.   It’s all about the pronunciation of the word VASE.  I’m sure you have been a part of the conversation more than once.  Maybe you’re shopping in a furnishings store or admiring a piece of pottery in someone’s home.   Maybe you ask […]

TUMULT: a violent disturbance

I was listening to a clip on NPR this morning announcing the death of New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid who died in Syria yesterday.   The voice clip was from his coverage of the Arab Spring events, and he described what he was observing as a tumult. What struck me was his pronunciation of the […]

SKUNKED TERM: a phrase disputed due to changes in its meaning/use over time

The poor skunk gets a bad name everywhere despite the fact that it is one of the most beautiful animals around.  Its markings are distinctive and remarkable. But that’s not what I’m posting about today.  It just happens to be the word incorporated into a language note I discovered when researching the word flaccid.   I […]