Monday, March 27, 2017

WORDS THAT STYMIE ME


When I was a child there were words I couldn't master. My tongue would just mangle them beyond recognition. I would add letters, subtract them  and would do the same with syllables.

I would get laughed at only once before  either conquering the word  or dropping them for substitutes but that first laughed at episode always stayed with me.  I lived by my Mom's favorite saying that "only a fool makes the same mistake twice".  

I mentioned previously that we had no TV as children for my mother thought we would quit communicating. She was pretty darn right it turned out.  

Before the days of vacant minds, blank stares, and only talking during commercials, we played games.  Some board games, some card games but mostly word games. The latter required no props. 

As the youngest, my favorite was, "I spy with my little eye something that starts with----".   I would then give the first letter of the thing I saw and it would be up to the rest of the players to identify what I "spied." The other players were only allowed 3 guesses. Kind of the word game equivalent to "Go Fish."  

When I realized I had a problem with words and spelling was when I stumped the bunch with "I see something that starts with M."  Each took their 3 tries and failed. Finally when they granted me  my victory they asked what the "M" was.  "Manoleum" I proudly said.  Even then it took a  while for them to realize I meant linoleum. 

I was given grace after much hooting of foul play but I finally ruined my credibility with "I see something that starts with P."  Again no one guessed and once more I smugly pronounced-"pusghetti" for spaghetti.  Boy did that take me back.

Now I eventually out grew most of the glaring mispronunciations but not completely.    Of course all I have to do is not use them in my everyday language but when I read the words, my mind screws them up and I know I am wrong. 

These are some of the words I struggle with today.  

RECIDIVISM  has been dumbed down to "repeat offending" in my oral vocabulary. Somehow I do fine till I reach the "vism" part then I tangle up and add syllables if I can finish at all.

CACOPHONY. This word I can pronounce but only after sounding it out slowly like a 3 rd grader. To my distress, I recently read a book where this was the author's favorite word and each time, I had to sound it out.  Sheesh. What is wrong with noise, racket or  clamor?  

PEREMPTORY. I get the meaning when reading this, mostly in legal novels, but in my head I am thinking it wrong and my mind knows I'm wrong. I add an unnecessary "A" and double "P" to the mix.  I won't tackle it if I am trying to impress.




COPERNICUS.  Ok this is a name, not a word but it is one I have seen and said several times in 77+ years but when I see it in print, it is a struggle every time. I read a book a while back that repeatedly refers to Nicholas Copernicus.  Each of the at least 20 references to his last name, I had to sound it out in my head like a child. 

Hum, wonder if there is a nice scientific three letter acronym for what ails me.   Maybe, PPB (poor phonics background)? 

Ooh, ooh, I think I may have conquered  three of these just now by writing about them. Suddenly they seem so simple. Time will tell. However Nicholas's last name is still giving me fits. It just doesn't sound like it looks. 

Are there words that stymie you today and you avoid or do you bull dog though till you conquer them??   

45 comments :

  1. I know I have some of those words, Patti, but try as I might at this moment I can't come up with any. I notice that the words you have trouble with are multisyllabic, with twists and turns in them. Love this post! I had fun with it. :-)

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    1. Djan,
      So glad you enjoyed. Next time one baffles you, you will think-"darn Patti".:))

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  2. I can relate -- definitely laughing with you, not at you!!

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  3. I don't recall any words that I have trouble pronouncing, although your list reminds me of being very young and hearing someone say "pusghetti." Also, when I read your list and see the word "peremptory" I realize that I've always thought it was pre-emptory, so I see I've been saying that one wrong. Yikes. Thank you for posting this!

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    1. robin,
      That was part of my problem also. Now if it were only pre-emptory, all would be fine.

      Delete
  4. I love the audible feature on dictionary.com that will pronounce an unfamiliar word for me. Words can be tricky things.

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    1. bellarum,
      Isn't that just the greatest tool? I use it when ever a new word is introduced to me.

      Delete
  5. I can definitely relate to your Manoleum/linoleum example. Teachers used to say that I had listening problem but there are many words like pen and pin that I truly don't hear a difference.

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    1. Jean R,
      I think in my case it was largely a listening problem. Ouch, pen and pin are close aren't they? English is so hard.

      Delete
  6. When I was a kid, I always said "thith-el" for thistle. The "s" disappeared. I said it again two weekends ago, when a friend and I were out looking at wildflowers. I just laughed -- I'll probably be saying it for months, now.

    My real problem is double consonants. I'm always adding an extra one where it doesn't belong, or not putting the double in. For example: Cinncinati comes out Cincinati. Graffiti becomes Grafitti. See what I did there? It's such a common error that one of my readers constantly is sending emails, saying "Uh... you might want to check on "whatever." I do appreciate it. Thank goodness we were taught M-i-crooked letter-crooked letter -and so on in school, or I'd never get "Mississippi" right.

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    1. shoreacres,
      Goodness, you have a spell checker commenter? Interesting. Too bad she can't proof read before you post. I never catch those things in others posts.
      Wow, Mississippi is loaded with danger for you:))

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  7. I'm pretty good with pronunciation, but my speling is crape.

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  8. When I am blogging or Facebooking --I always come upon words which I struggle with... It's always getting the vowels in the correct order... Can't think of any of the words right now ---but usually, when I can't spell something these days, I just find another word to use instead... ha

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Betsy,
      I know what you mean. I Google all the time for a good synonym to plug in.

      Delete
  9. You are lucky you remember your childhood so vividly. I can only recall bits and pieces of my childhood and I barely remember going to school. (Maybe I didn't...LOL) Only recently I was trying to recall names of my teachers and I could only remember one, Miss Flynn. She was the one who yanked me out of my seat and shook me because I mixed up the I and E on the word science. Boy, I'll never forget that word...... hahahaha

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    1. Belva,
      I only remember the good and the bad, The in between is gone:))
      Still today, I do the poem "I before E except after C" entirely too much.

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  10. I usually misspell liquer, or liqueor, or liquor.

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    1. Stephen,
      I can see that. Darn, I think you have planted doubt in my head for that word now.

      Delete
  11. You mean it's not pre-emptory?! Well, count my with you on that one.
    I remember being quite taken aback when a teacher scolded the class over the pronunciation of "library". What? you mean it's not li-berry?
    I reading your post it occurred to me that my visual vocabulary is much broader than my speaking vocabulary. There must be words I don't have mastered either.

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    1. Linda R,
      Ha ha, I remember the first time I heard a classmate want to go to the li-berry, I thought "w-h-a-t." I began to question who was right.

      Delete
  12. I've had my struggles with words like aspirin and hospital, but most recently it is Pininterest...or at least that's what I call it. Drives my daughter crazy! :)

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    1. Eileen,
      You know I only just recently learned how to spell aspirin. I always wanted to put an E in there. I wouldn't even try the "Pint" thing.

      Delete
  13. I can't remember any right now, but my pastor says, "pacific" when he means specific. I always get a chuckle out of that.

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    1. Snickelfritz,
      That is funny. I would probably miss half the sermon anticipating "pacific."

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    2. Oh, and my daughter-in-law thought for years a chest of drawers was called Chester drawers. We got a good laugh out of that one.

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  14. How about "Chautauqua"....I used to think it was a traveling circus, but it's an educational institution. It's numbers I have trouble with at about the 3rd grade level.

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    1. Mage,
      Aw gee, now I will have to use that pronunciation gadget to pronounce that one.
      Thanks:))

      Delete
  15. I'm pretty lucky with words, both English and Swedish. Due to my age, I sometimes forget a word, so I try it in Swedish and then work backwards to English. But I really got in trouble when I forgot the word tumbleweeds. Something we have plenty of here, but none in Sweden, as far as I know. So no help from Swedish there. Fortunately, I now know their name. I am surrounded by them, so good thing I know what they are called.

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    1. Inger,
      Mercy and here I thought one language was hard. Way to go for not giving up.

      Delete
  16. I can't think of a specific word or words right now that I have a problem with. This post made me think about the word geography though. My teacher taught us to spell the word by using the first letter of each word in this sentence...George Elick's oldest girl rode a pig home yesterday. To this day I can't spell geography without the sentence and can't spell it orally.

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    1. Maggie,
      Wow, that would cripple me also. Kind of like the colors in a prism. I have to say Roy G Biv first.

      Delete
  17. This is hilarious! You crack me up Patti :-)

    I'm a little late for my Monday morning chuckle but your post is making my day :-)

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  18. Carole,
    I'm here all week so anytime is a good time. No such thing as late. So glad I found your funny bone.

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  19. My favorites were "kunk" for skunk and "shampoohoohoo" for shampoo. The word confusion I still laugh about was me trying to say I'd "hold down the fort" when my boss was leaving for a meeting. It came out "I'll fold down the hort." The whole office ended up using it from then on.

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    1. Annie,
      Ha ha, that is funny and I can see why it took on a life of its own.

      Delete
  20. I can't think of any words at the moment, but maybe my vocabulary isn't that big. :) I do remember a neighbor from my childhood that always said shirty-shree for thirty three. lol! He pronounced other words correctly, best I remember. Funny I remember that!

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    1. Cheryl,
      Isn't it interesting how things from our past resurface after a small reminder.

      Delete
  21. I stumble over some words but can't think of specific ones at the moment. One I hear in others that catches my ear is pitcher for picture. Pronouncing words ala phonics is a problem for lots of people -- for whatever the reasons their brains listening mechanism just isn't as keen picking up those sound differences. Often they need to receive more emphasis on learning words visually -- by various cues they see, along with connecting them to the sounds they hear (phonics). Too many years it was all phonics and those visual learner kids were even thot to be dumb when it just meant they learned differently. Had a family member whose teacher had the reverse problem, forcing visual learning on everybody as the primary system. Child had to be sent to summer school for a phonics class as that was her strength. Need to determine what works best for each child and teach to strength, augmenting with other system. Don't know if some educators still don't get it or not. So many differences in our brains about so many things people keep arguing about today -- they're just differences people can't help.

    I think kids go thru a period of time when young that their brains work faster with all the new words and language they're learning than they can move their tongues and lips to shape the sounds and actually speak. What comes out is a mix up of sounds and words, sometimes even repeats of the same sounds (stuttering-like). Of, course how others around them at home talk influences how they sound too. We can even be affected as adults over time -- during time I lived in south I unknowingly picked up a southern accent for some words. I learned this after moving elsewhere and would get teased.

    When I read I should take more time to look up some words meaning, but only do if I can't figure out the meaning from the sentence content. I don't always know how to pronounce all of them.

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    1. joared,
      I had forgotten about pitcher for picture. Me too on a southern accent. One reason I love reading books on Kindle is that it is so easy to get a word's meaning or pronunciation with just a click. I love that about it.

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  22. Blimey I don't know what the 4 words you've listed mean, let alone how to pronounce them!

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  23. I smiled when I read "pusghetti" - that's how our oldest grands pronounced it when they were about 2-3. Now, Bob still pronounces it that way! They also said "hotelwell" for hotel - again we sometimes still pronounce it that way. My own boys said "hit dig" for hot dog. I loved big words when I was a child and could pronounce them fluently and with flair. Finally, I learned that simple words are sometimes the best at conveying meaning, so I now shy away from them. Have fun with your company Patti!

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  24. And you became one of the MOST AWESOME bloggers on the Internet. My downfall was always definite. I kept spelling it definate. Tsk. And then there was occurred. I could never remember if it was occurred or ocurred or ocured or whatever. Brain snag.

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