That which vexes me today. Also, some announcements

Madame Weebles —  November 30, 2012 — 168 Comments

First, that which vexes me today:

Over the past several years I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among newscasters and other media folk regarding the pronunciation of certain words.

It started with the words “harass” and “harassment.”  My understanding was that they were pronounced “har-ASS” and “har-ASS-ment.”  Then reporters started saying them differently all of a sudden: “HAR-ris” and “HAR-ris-ment.”

A similar thing happened with the word “details.”  I’ve always pronounced it “DEE-tails,” as does everyone else I know.  Except that on television, they now say “deh-TAILS.”

Two of the latest words to get a verbal makeover are “coyote” and “Neanderthal. ” Instead of “ky-OH-tee,” it’s “KY-oat.”  And “Nee-AN-der-THAL” has morphed into “Nee-AN-der-TALL.”  Yeah, yeah, I know, in other languages you don’t pronounce the “h” when it immediately follows a “t.”  I don’t care.  I’m not speaking other languages.

Also, obviously these people haven’t been watching enough Looney Tunes; Wile E. Coyote himself always said “Ky-OH-tay”—which I assume is a regional thing, but it’s still in the spirit of the original pronunciation.

I mean, what the fuck?  Who decided on this change, and why?  These newfangled pronunciations sound pretentious and stupid. As if I needed another reason to loathe people.

I don’t like it. I will continue to say these words as I always have. And if I have to, I will launch a grassroots campaign to stop the madness and to make sure no other words are so cruelly mangled.

And now, some announcements.

First, tune in tomorrow for the Great Unveiling—when I reveal to the world which of the ten photos seen in the Where’s Weebs? contest is, in fact, Weebs.

Secondly (and much more excitingly), I am titillated and overjoyed to announce my upcoming collaboration with two spectacular women…

Throughout history, there have been many legendary trios:

Rush
FDR, Churchill, and Stalin
The Three Musketeers
The Three Magi
Larry, Curly, and Moe

Soon, another three will join their ranks:

Madame Weebles, Speaker7, and Jen Tonic

That’s right, you read correctly.  Start taking your vitamins now so you can handle the awesome.

168 responses to That which vexes me today. Also, some announcements

  1. 

    I am as happy as a KY-oat HARrissing a NeeANderTALL.

  2. 

    Damn straight … stick with your pronunciation.

    About Where’s Weebs? contest, at least answer this question … did someone win? If not, will the jackpot carryover like the lottery?

    BTW – I saw your statue in Copenhagen!

  3. 

    I always thought that when ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, a Canadian (and king of saying “aboot”), would transform himself into a pitch man for Goya whenever he”d pronounce any Latin word or name with a tongue rolling accent “pretentious and stupid”.

  4. 
    Fish Out of Water November 30, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I can’t wait for that trio!

  5. 

    I too, have noticed this trend. As disturbing as this is, and I am right with you in the ‘this is fucking ridiculous’ rant, I think what’s even more disturbing is their overuse of the word ‘journalism’. It’s not fucking ‘journalism’…you’re just reading the news from the fucking teleprompter. Get over yourselves…ugh…on the lighter side…CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE COLLABORATION…should be one big bag of awesome…I’m waiting…right here….

  6. 
    free penny press November 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Keep us posted when the Tres Amigos makes their debut :-)

  7. 

    All media personnel should definitely pass a Looney Tunes pronunciation test before they are allowed on air.

  8. 

    “Sexual harassment… sexual harassment??? But ‘harassment’ nothing to me, your honour!”

  9. 

    I’ll take charge of the Canadian branch of your grassroots campaign to save proper pronunciation.
    You’re welcome.

  10. 

    Don’t forget Uranus! C’mon people, it’s pronounced “your anus.” Let’s grow up.

    Or, rather, let’s remain immature and giggle after saying it. Uranus! Tee hee hee!

  11. 

    I never noticed, but I can be clueless. Popping multivitamins now.

  12. 

    “I mean, what the fuck?” What the fuck indeed. I’m starting to believe this is all some conspiracy started by the people that invented “YOLO,”

  13. 

    I’ve noticed the trend to ‘harrisment’ – (dammit, don’t take the ass out of harassment!) On a different note, I worked for a group of speech therapists once, and this lady was upset because she was working with a child from the Hood, who would say, “Knock on the do’ (pronounced doe – like a female deer). She wanted him to say ‘door’. She got into trouble because they said this child understood that the doe IS the door – therefore, she should not correct him….

    • 

      That’s deeply bizarre, Chica B. I mean, I get accents and stuff, and I’m all in favor of preserving regional pronunciation. But that’s ridiculous, and a little pandering. The poor kid should at least know how it’s *supposed* to be pronounced so he can function in any setting.

      • 

        I agree. I think it is a very fine line kind of thing. There was no ill intent behind teaching him how it was supposed to be pronounced. And I agree, in certain situations, your speech and mannerism can make a good or not so good impression of you.

  14. 

    Weebs,
    Yes, I have to admit – weird pronunciations really grate on my nerves. At least we now have a President that can pronounce “Nuclear.” Looking forward to the announcement tomorrow and the trio. Sounds perfect!
    Cathy

  15. 

    As a lover of regional dialects, it irritates me when broadcast news tries to force a generic American accent. I understand they want people all over the country to understand the broadcast, but it takes the color out of the language and gives us abominations such as the ones you’ve pointed out.

    By the way, I hear FDR could really shred on guitar. Churchill and Stalin just got loaded and belted out nonsensical lyrics.

    • 

      What up, dawg? I’m so happy to see you here—and I really need to come visit your blog ASAP. Yeah, I don’t like hearing the generic accents either—I like going to different parts of the country and hearing the twang, drawl, or whatever, typical of that area. Or even if a newscaster isn’t local, it’s still nice to hear regional differences. Usually. Unless the particular accent grates on me. Then it’s not so nice.

      I heard that about FDR too. They originally had Stalin on the drums but he used to try to stab people with the drumsticks so they realized that they were better off just pumping him full of vodka.

  16. 

    this is YUUUUUGE! I better go warsh some knickers for the reee-ide.

  17. 

    Do you say pro-gram or pro-grum? I never understood pro-grum. Okay what about human? Do you say, hue-men or U-men? I never understand the silent H. Julesagray understands my point.

    • 

      Jules is wise. I say pro-gram and hue-man. I think pro-grum and U-men are more regional things. I don’t mind regional pronunciation differences—like IN-sur-ance vs in-SUR-ance. It’s when the media take a word that has been universally pronounced one way, and then suddenly change it up for no particular reason. Since when are they arbiters of the English language? That’s BULLSHIT.

  18. 

    Just list the names of the perpertraitors of this bastardisation and I’ll make them pay

  19. 

    Thanks for point this out, it was about time somebody did. As a non-native, I always find these pronunciation fuck-ups highly confusing, because every time I think: sh!t, I have been pronouncing this the wrong way all the time. And I live in CO so ky-oh-tay is really important to get by…

  20. 

    Hmm. I might not want to admit that I started saying AD-ver-tis-ment instead of ad-VER-tise-ment. I agree with all of the other ones though.

    That does sound exciting. Can’t wait!

  21. 

    I am with you on the pronunciations. Even though I may hail from the boondocks of North Dakota, I still enjoy proper pronunciation.

    I look forward to the unveiling!

  22. 

    My boyfriend insists on saying “acrosst”, which drives me nuts. Maybe it’s cuz we live in Seattle…

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=acrosst

    • 

      That might drive me nuts too. I didn’t know that was a Seattle thing, but I’ve heard people say it before. Does he say “heighth”? Because that makes me apeshit, when people add the “th” to make it sound more like “width.”

  23. 

    and also, what drives me nuts is when people say “cil-ANT-ro” vs. “cil-ahnt-ro”.

  24. 

    Exactly. See, that’s why I like you, Clown. You understand things.

  25. 

    I think if you pronounce anything with emphasis on the second sy-LA-ble of the word, you will sound french and no one will question anything. ConsisTENcy is key. (oops, that was the third syllable).
    Holy Mother Trinity! The great awakening, Revelation and a New Dawn are upon us, at the same time. This should be fun….

    • 

      You may be right, there, iRun. By putting emphasis on a different sy-LA-ble, people may think they sound exotic or something. But really, it just makes them sound like idiots, and they should know this about themselves. And yes, prepare for the New Dawn! Or something.

      • 

        Hey! I do that when I speak someTIMES. Thanks for the idiot comment. Now I know.
        Yes, I’m waiting for Something (and your unveiling! tomorrow!) I think we have things in common — didn’t you use to play piano but now haven’t played a rusty key in years? I’m curious to see your beauty shot.

        • 

          You know I wasn’t referRING to you on the idiot thing, right? :D And yes, my fingers are super rusty from not playing piano in about 25 years. As for the beauty shot, well… I’ll leave it up to you to judge beauty or no.

          • 

            Ha ha. I haven’t played in years either, and was once quite good. I will not judge your photo. I already know it will be magnificent (sans Trademarking on that word, notice?) because your words are fabulous.

  26. 

    I know exactly what you mean about the word morph. Of course, I speak Southern. So, what do I know?
    Can’t wait for the awesome.

    • 

      Fuck yeah, Honie! See, I can’t help myself, now whenever I reply to a comment of yours, I want to swear as much as possible. Southern is fun to listen to. But the newscasters who morph the words aren’t Southern, they’re idiots. Now do you have a Texas accent? I’m dying to know.

  27. 

    I wondered what was going on with all those ac-CENTS on the wrong syl-LA-bles. But I must confess to a heinous crime: My dad always pronounced coyote “kī-yoot”… and I still can’t say it any other way. Mea culpa. I’m trying…

    • 

      You came by that pronunciation honestly, though, Diane, so that’s ok. It’s the idiots who suddenly change it from what it had been traditionally, for no reason other than to sound more educated or affected or pretentious or all three. Why they gotta DO that???

  28. 

    About time somebody damn said it! Thanks for calling these idjits out MW! Deh-TAILS — dang fewls!

  29. 

    I always think when people say “HAR-ris” they’re trying to sound English or more sophisticated? I think people out west say “Ky-Oat.” But not me. Oh!! I can’t wait for the unveiling, Weebs. I’ll definitely be tuning in for the powerful trio experience with Speaker and Jen. By the way, have you even seen a movie called “I Love You, Man.” I always wanted to ask you that.

    • 

      I have actually NOT seen “I Love You, Man”—I really do have to download that one, because it does look funny. You may be right about Ky-Oat vs Ky-oat-tee being a Western thing, Bumble, based on what I’m reading from people here. But HAR-ris? Really????

      • 

        HAR-ris has always made me feel uncomfortable, Weebs! If you’re a Rush fan, you must MUST MUST download this movie. You’ll have a great laugh. If you see it, you must tell what you think about it!!

        • 

          Ohhh, okay, NOW I know what you’re referring to! The scene with Rush is actually the only one I’ve seen! Freaking hilarious. I really do need to watch the whole thing one of these days, though. ;)

  30. 

    These pronunciations are just a litmus test for who is awesome and normal, and who needs to die.

  31. 

    Too much excitement. TOO MUCH.

  32. 

    oh boy something to look forward to… thanks so much madame W!

  33. 

    Oh, and I don’t know if this counts as the same thing, but I hate when people pronounce the H in what. UUUUUUGH. No.

  34. 

    Okay, I must admit, as an archaeologist, I have always pronounced it NeanderTAL. Because, even though we American archaeologists refer to SHERDS instead of SHARDs and PROVENIENCE instead of PROVENANCE like the rest of the English-speaking world, we were taught TALL, not THAL. In my defense, no one has ever defined Americans (or archaeologists) as consistent.

    I am looking forward to seeing which photo is of you, and that sounds like an interesting threesome—er, collaboration!

    • 

      You get special dispensation as an archaeologist, JM! In my Social Studies classes in school, we were taught that it was “NeanderTHAL.” And that’s how I heard it in all kinds of anthropology documentaries, etc, until the last few years, when the TH was replaced by the T. It seemed sudden to me, but maybe it wasn’t. I’ve never heard “sherds” or “provenience” though. Interesting.

  35. 

    The pronunciations? I blame the BBC. Uppity turds..

  36. 

    WOAH WOAH WOAH!! That’s a man-eating, heartbreaking, soul-shaking power trio if I’ve ever seen one! I am sooo excited! :D

  37. 

    My mom says ‘cassette’ as ‘cazzette’ and ‘doll’ and ‘dowel’. You need to consider slapping her.

  38. 

    I’m so relieved at your disgust Weebles, for the intentionally grotesque mutilations of pronunceeations. You’ve nailed every facet. The outrage and indignation, especially about “NeanderTHal”. But, KY-oat?!!! Oh my God, I’m soo friggin’ glad I gave up watching the news, for Lent. :-)

    Looking forward to an extra large helping of Awesome, tomorrow!

  39. 

    Looking forward to seeing what the three of you are up to. It ought to be good. ;-)

  40. 

    I shall, if I may, agree with every word you have said and add my own annoyance at the fact that a ten year period used to be known as a DEHcade, but it’s now rendered as deCAYed, as if rotting away with the years.

  41. 

    I’ll join the Canadian contingent even though I don’t listen to news anymore. I get my news from the net so I read what I want.

  42. 

    Almost everyone these days seems unable to complete a sentence without “ya know”. Listen to Hillary Clinton. People even begin a sentence with “you know.” And where did this word “conflicted” come from? How did a noun end up with a past tense verb ending used as a predicate adjective as in “he was conflicted”?

    • 

      I am extremely guilty of this one, Carl, starting off sentences with “You know.” Come to think of it, I also use “conflicted” as an adjective. And you get MASSIVE amounts of bonus points for knowing the parts of speech. That’s a lost art these days. Bravo!!

  43. 

    I await with bated breath!

    I’m more amused than vexed by the shift in language. I’ve noticed that with a number of things, “Harassment” being the most obvious. ‘Moslem’ is another.

    Once in high school, I can no longer remember why, we convinced a friend that ‘ramification’ was pronounced ‘ruh-MIFF-uh-KAY-shuns.”

    • 

      You’re evil. I knew I liked you. Did the poor bastard end up pronouncing it that way in front of other people? I used to go out with a guy who pronounced “acceleration” so that it sounded like “exhilaration.” We didn’t date for very long.

  44. 

    I’m probably an elitist snob but I always think these mispronunciations are the result of ignorance. I’d hate to see them taken as bible. :(

  45. 

    OMG I’ve been wondering about these slaughtered pronunciations for YEARS. They’ve always driven me up the wall, and the news is the ONLY time you ever hear it pronounced this way! I must admit I haven’t heard the Neanderthal one yet though, but it from the way it sounded it my head, its clearly gonna be awful when I do. I might even stamp my feet and cry about it a little. You’re right its pretentious. It’s like those people who suddenly start pronouncing the “t” in “often”. Its supposed to be silent!!

    • 

      I know some people who pronounce the “t in “often,” it doesn’t drive me nuts but I do notice it. But the other ones make me want to stamp my feet and cry too, scintillate! It’s just WRONG.

      • 

        They’re all wrong….and for the record (I didn’t learn this till way after college) the “t” in often is silent! It will even say so in the dictionary!

        • 

          I use the “t” in often. I just looked it up, it’s not the first pronunciation (meaning not preferred) but it’s in there.

          It’s like saying pronouncing ‘forte” (as in skill) like for-TAY. It should be pronounced ‘fort.’ The common pronunciation is in there, but it’s listed third.

          Also ‘octopuses’ and ‘cactuses’ are acceptable plurals.

          And wait, you don’t pronounce the “t” in scintillate? My dictionary and common sense says otherwise.

          • 

            I say “for-TAY.” I didn’t know it was supposed to be pronounced “fort.” I learned something today.

          • 

            Well sure I do…but to be fair, I’ve never learned that I wasn’t supposed too. I know that common usage allows both octupuses and cactuses. I can’t deny that I’ve said them that way myself…but I gotta admit, it still makes me cringe. If for no other reason then that I know its not the right way. I will admit with the “often” its hard to know which way to swing, but eh…we could debate this till the cows come home if we wanted to. Why bother, right? Either way, I loved your post. Hope to see more from you in the future.

  46. 

    oh, this made me laugh! I am completely with you. I just really hope they all do start saying “Ky-OH-tay” -lol!!

  47. 

    Pronunciation is a curse here in the UK. For such a small space, we have such a variety of regional accents (there is not one single English accent, nor is there a single Welsh accent, a single Scottish accent or a single Irish accent). A wonderful discussion to have is how to pronounce the word “scone”. Do you rhyme it with “gone” or “stone” is the question!

    One of my friends from school went to the University of Stirling. There was a lad from Liverpool amongst her friends, and a lass from Glasgow. If the two were left alone together, they literally couldn’t understand what the other said, because of their accents being what they were. It sounds quite funny (and it probably was funny to witness) but I suspect it was probably also incredibly embarrassing!

    • 

      In Scotland I actually heard “scone” pronounced so that it rhymed with “scoon”! I do love hearing all the different accents in the UK, although I do have a lot of trouble with some of the heavier northern English accents and some Scottish accents. It’s funny to think that you need an interpreter to speak to someone else from your own country!

      • 

        That would be in reference to the place and the Stone of Scone. It gets confusing. (And don’t get me started on oatcakes – there are two types; Staffordshire Oatcakes and Scottish Oatcakes. Wiki will tell you the difference in a more impartial manner than I will, because I will insist that Staffordshire Oatcakes are the real ones.)

        If I’m tired and speaking to someone with an accent I’m not used to, especially on the phone, I don’t understand a word they’re saying. And that does include some of the very northern Scot voices.

  48. 

    This is a fascinating post. I was told that in the US, you can identify where someone is from by the way they pronounce the word really. Whether you pronounce it, rilly, Re’uhlly, or Reely.

  49. 

    In a way it bothers me that newscasters lead-off every story with ‘That + *subject matter*’…
    ‘That over-turned ice-cream truck’
    ‘That tiny pony at the zoo’
    Maybe it’s just the repetition that gets to me.
    Well, that and we all know tiny pony is special… he has a NAME, damn-it!

    • 

      This made me LAUGH, Sig. I never thought about this tendency but now that you mention it, you’re right, newscasters DO lead off that way! And dammit, call that tiny pony by his name—give him RESPECT, for crying out loud.

  50. 

    With you all the way on those stupid pronunciations. I never watched American news broadcasts when I lived there, so you have my sympathy. And, of course, on the edge of my seat about your collaboration.

    • 

      Are there any similar types of oddball pronunciations in British newscasts? I know the BBC is pretty straightforward with its pronunciations but maybe local news is different?

      • 

        It’s not so much how the broadcasters speak as the stupid jargon politicians and corporate types are using. “Going forward” instead of “in the future” is the one that has me running amok. Local news is charming – they’re allowed to have regional accents instead of RP – a pleasure to listen to, even if I don’t always understand what they’re saying. I still haven’t penetrated some of the thicker Glaswegian accents.

        Sad to say, regional accents are disappearing fast with globalisation, television, and the internet. Going forward, that is…

        • 

          That drives me nuts too, “going forward”—it’s one of those phrases used in the corporate world all the time and I hate it. Good to know that local news doesn’t have to be reported in the standard RP. Regional accents are important to preserve, I think.

  51. 

    I always thought that the weird pronunciations where an American v. British thing. I’m glad to see it pisses of Americans too, well not glad, because they should fucking pronounce the words properly … you know what I mean.
    I am peeing with excitement at the Weebs/Speaker/Jen collaboration. This is the awesomest ever.

    • 

      Well, Storkhunter, of course you there’s much of that too, the US vs UK thing. :) But when American pronunciation starts to differ wildly from itself, that’s what I start getting pissed off.

  52. 

    Amen sister. (Ay-men or ah-men? I’m an Ay-men sort of girl.)

  53. 

    Makes me wonder what Shakespeare would make of our ever evolving language if he were to knock on my front door this very minute. And all this time I have been saying Ky-OH-tee! ….oh hold on …there is someone at my front door……

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