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The Awkward Side of Learning New Words

My favorite TV show is How I Met Your Mother. I can tell you about each episode in so much detail, that I get annoying.

Even though Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) brings along many hilarious moments, Ted (Josh Radnor) and the rest of the gang add their own funniness to it. This particular post is inspired by Ted’s “cha-mee-lee-on” incident. You see, Professor Ted Mosby, is talking about an architect to his students. This architect transforms his own work in order to adjust to the environment he is in, and Ted compares him to a chameleon, but does not pronounce it “chameleon” .. but as CHA (as in cha-cha)-mee-LEE-on.”

“Um, professor, do you mean ‘chameleon?'”

“..I’m pretty sure its pronounced, cha-mee-lee-on,” Ted Mosby states.

The students then shake their heads in disagreement. He learned that word by reading it, as we later find out when he is explaining the incident to Robin (Cobie Smulders).


But the thing is, that this happens to everyone whether we want to admit it or not. For me in particular, it is with names that I read in books. Currently it is the name Liesel in The Book Thief [can anyone help me out?]. But it does happen with regular words as well, and sometimes I only figure out how they’re pronounced when someone else says them, and even then I’m still confused about it because I had imagined it a whole different way in my mind.

How did people figure out how to pronounce vinegar? Vine and gar.. no. vine-gare? No. Ugh. Part of the blame for this can go to the English language (see, this post), I mean arches, architect, reaches, orchid, ketchup..

Tough.. and dough.. rough..

Kudos to you if you were able to read these and say them properly without ever hearing them pronounced.

I heard someone order a mow-cha latte at Starbucks a while ago, and even though I wanted to order the same thing, I ended up ordering a passion tea due to the confusion. Every once in a while I ask how something is pronounced, sometimes during normal conversation. I had trouble with the word scaffolding. *Cue: laughter*

Enough about me.. Here are some questions for you:

How do you pronounce Avengers? uh-vengers, or A-vengers. Ah-vengers?

How do you pronounce the word “button”?  BUTT-tun, or but’n

The word “mountain”? Mount-tin. Mount’n. Moun-tein.

If you’re from England, Australia, or have some cool accent, please share with the rest of us!

What words have YOU pronounced incorrectly the first time?

Awkward Awesome Posts:

(Why yes, I do read your blogs, I follow all of you dudes and dudettes!)

  1. The word ‘chameleon’ brought back memories from my school days. A lot has been said and laughed about the Indian accent, but yes, i must admit a lot of people pronounced it as cha-me-lee-on. And the confusion existed till the time we heard it on Discovery channel 🙂 Oh and the most popular Indian gaffe has to be the word ‘garage’. Its always gya-ra-ge and never Ga-rah-ge…. 🙂

    June 28, 2012
    • Ithaca thank goodness for the Discovery Channel 🙂 it just doesn’t make sense why it’s spelled that way, I mean the word charcoal.. and character.. agh. So confusing!

      Thanks for the comment feisty!


      June 29, 2012
      • Anonymous #

        uh? Ithaca? haha autocorrect.. sorry 😛

        June 29, 2012
      • Ithaca?? 🙂

        July 1, 2012
  2. As I read a lot, this happens to me too. I had Hermione wrong until I saw the film… My PhD supervisor mocked me for pronouncing ‘quoth’ wrong 😦 Apparently it rhymes with oath not moth. Who knew?
    Some words change, like chameleons 🙂 Gazebo for example, used to be pronounced gaze-boh like you’d expect, as it was a place to gaze from. Now it’s usually pronounced ga-zee-boh with stress on the zee.
    In the English Midlands we promounce garage as ga-ridge with stress on the ga 🙂
    I think Liesel is Lee-z’l stress on lee. But maybe that’s just me…

    June 29, 2012
    • Quoth .. I’d pronounce like moth too! But I totally get you on the Hermione, her-me-one HAHA 😛

      And that is very interesting about the word gazebo.. I think it sounds so much better as gaze-boh though, I might name my pet fish that. Why must it be this way? We make it too hard for people to learn English hahaha.


      PS I think GA-ridge sounds AWESOME! Who knew? Thank you 🙂

      June 29, 2012
  3. A-vengers/BUTT-n/Mount’n

    Liverpool by way of Runcorn-South Africa-Stockport.

    June 29, 2012
    • You’re normal! Or we’re both weird.. Hmm.. I’ll get back to you haha 🙂 thanks

      June 29, 2012
  4. I remember my friend mispronouncing the word aisles because she had only ever read it. A-zels…

    June 29, 2012
  5. ‘Chores’, ‘Maneuver’, ‘Lambaste’, ‘Suite’, ‘Ceilidh’, ‘Sang-froid’, ‘Abattoir’ are only some of the words I used to mispronounce. It was always a problem for me because I’m an avid reader and so whenever I come a across a new word, I apply my brain and pronounce it according to my knowledge, promising myself to check it asap (which, almost always, never happens). So, yeah.
    And uh, I think Liesel will be pronounced as Lee-zul, y’know, like ‘Diesel’?

    June 29, 2012
    • I know the feeling! When I read, a little voice in my head reads aloud.. and it hesitates on such words. Btw I know how to say two of the seven words you posted hahaha! Chores and maneuver.

      And hmm.. rhymes with diesel.. I can do that! Liesel. I like the name either way 🙂

      Thanks Meghna!

      June 29, 2012
  6. The English language is full of rules, but more full of exceptions to the rules. My son once when on a rant about the language (because he has so much trouble with spelling). I can’t remember all of it, but two things I remember were:

    “What’s up with the silent letters?” and “Why do some words have double letters? Like zoo or book? Why not 3 o’s instead to 2?”

    Add to all the funky spelling glitches, regional dialects make pronouncing words a real mess. It’s no wonder we can;t agree on anything–we probably aren’t even talking about the same thing!

    June 29, 2012
    • HAHAHAHA. The silent letters as in the words WALK and TALK .. aisle and know.. ugh.

      You are so right, Lorna! There are more exceptions than rules ha!

      Thank you!


      June 29, 2012
  7. Venom #

    This happens to me sometimes. I am not a native English speaker, but I do my best to perfect my language. It took me a while to realize the “b” in comb is supposed to be silent, but I still say it anyways. . . Why are there silent letters to begin with?
    By the way I say Ah-vengers and Moun-tein 😀

    June 29, 2012
    • Another silent letter word! Comb.. such a weird word also! K-ohm.

      And ooh that’s interesting, what’s your native language?


      June 29, 2012
      • Venom #

        It’s Arabic 🙂 I can also speak English, French, and some Italian (learning, still).

        June 29, 2012
  8. Eugh, this happens to me all the time! I just found out that ‘burial’ isn’t actually pronounced bew-ree-al, and apparently I put the stress on advertisement on the wrong place. *sigh*.

    June 30, 2012
    • Hi! I like the name of your blog 🙂

      And… IT ISN’T PRONOUNCED like that?! I know what you mean about advertisement, I STILL pronounce accessories with the stress on the first syllable.



      June 30, 2012
  9. And thanks to How I met your mother….people know how to pronounce my name right….Priya!!! 🙂

    July 1, 2012
  10. And thanks to How I met your mother…people know how to pronounce my name just right, …Priya!! 🙂

    July 1, 2012
  11. Hahaha. How funny, I remember that episode!

    Liesel is pronounced like Lee-sill.

    haha I’m from Australia and I found out today we pronounce hammer wrong. We’re rather terrible at finishing words off so often it comes out “hamma”. Plus there’s all the slang out there…

    July 14, 2012
    • Lee-Sill.. sill as in window sill? Wait I speak American, does that change anything? hahaha


      July 21, 2012
  12. For years I said “deter-mind” instead of determined!!

    February 7, 2013
    • Haha! I guess I can see why, it makes sense!


      February 7, 2013

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