26 March 2005


Almost done picking through The Best American Essays of 2003. There are such gems in many of the essay. This from Francis Spufford's "The Habit:"

The words we learned exclusively from books are the ones we pronounce differently from everyone else. Or, if we force ourselves to say them the public way, secretly we believe the proper pronunciation is our own, deduced from the page and not corrected by hearing the word aloud until it was too late to alter its sound. The classic is "misled," said not as mis-led but as myzled--the past tense of a verb, "to misle," which somehow never comes up in the present tense. In fact, misled never misled me. One of mine is "grimace." You probably think it's pronounced grimuss, but I know differnt. It's grim-ace, to rhyme with face. I'm sorry, but on this point the entire English-speaking human race except me is wrong.

One of mine is "capacity," pronounced CAP-a-city. Learned very young from a sign on a school bus.

[ posted by sstrader on 26 March 2005 at 1:31:13 PM in Language & Literature ]