My neighbour, Sue, is the queen of mispronunciation. The other day she said she “pacifically” wanted to tell me about the 9 course “crustacean” menu she enjoyed recently at a fancy restaurant. The servings were apparently tiny.
The conversation made me think about commonly mispronounced words in English. There are many, of course, but did you know the most commonly mispronounced words in English are: phenomenon, remuneration and statistics; closely followed by ethnicity, hereditary and particularly. Others include peculiarity, assimilation and February.
The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters (yes, there is such an organisation) is the UK’s leading organisation for professionals involved in taking down speech at court and tribunal hearings. They found the most mispronounced words include conjugal, processes, development and my friend Sue’s favourite, specific. She is not alone.
Mispronouncing words is often simply entertaining, the words are said and they disappear. There’s no evidence of your mistake. Spelling them incorrectly, however, particularly in a business document, is a big no-no unless you’re willing to sacrifice your professional credibility. You create a permanent record for all to see. According to the Australian Writers’ Centre, adult native speakers of English typically have a vocabulary of around 20,000 words – yet it’s the same small group of words that people misspell time and time again. What are they?
- Stationary (stand still) and Stationery (envelopes and such like)
- Compliment (not an insult) and Complement (enhance)
Brush up on getting these words right, and you’ll rarely need to rely on spell check tools. As an added bonus, you will speed up your writing.