Say what?


I’ve often written about my affection for an extended vocabulary. It’s long been a benefit to me in my reading, my writing and my crossword puzzle solving.

I’ve also mentioned how possessing (and employing) muscular diction has its drawbacks. I’ve suffered accusations of snootiness and superiority (which, considering my menagerie of psychiatric complexes, seems a remote possibility).

However, it’s a less obvious danger owning a large vocabulary presents that I want to talk about today.

Since most of my vocabulary exercise comes in the form of the written word, I can only go by my experience and learnings to conceive of the word’s actual pronunciation.

That can lead to some embarrassing moments.

Such as the time I was talking with my Dad and mentioned the word “emeritus”. My brain assembled the syllables and sounds of that word based on other “itus” ending words (such as “detritus”) and thus always thought of the word as em-er-eye-tus.

So, of course, when my Dad corrected me with eh-merit-tus, I was appropriately chagrined.

There have been plenty of times I’ve looked up a new word to see how it is pronounced (as well as gaining a better understanding of its meaning), but there are more than a few I just decided for myself.

Phonetics is not always your best guide. Especially with an extensive vocabulary. It’s generally better to look up words you’ve never heard before…before saying them out loud.

Otherwise, you’ll likely get plenty of people looking at you oddly while responding, “Say what?”

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