The working vocabulary of the average 14-year-old has declined in the last 50 years from 25,000 words to 10,000. Language reflects the depth of our human experience. Because we think in words, are we losing the capacity to say what we feel? Like, whatever.
There’s quite a queue of words that we’re likely to mispronounce on any given day.
(A sandwich spread or a prodigal poet—you might mispronounce and not even know it.)
Persnickety, you say?
Photo by allen watkin via Wikimedia Commons
Although you should know that it’s technically pernickety.
Well, it is.
Anyway, if you want to feel just a little bit smarter than you did when you woke up this morning, here’s an easy means to that end:
Don’t say: a-FLU-ent
Do say: AFF-lu-ent
Well, just watch:
Don’t say: mannaize
Do say: MAY-o-naize
Don’t say: minichur
Do say: miniachur (yup – the short “a” sound should be heard)
Don’t say: pottable
Do say: potable (long “o” is the way to go)
Don’t say: pre-STEE-jus
Do say: pre-STI-jus (short “i”)
Don’t say: respite (rhymes with despite)
Do say: respit
Seuss (as in, the good doctor of children’s literature)
Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, adopted his pen name from his German mother’s maiden name, which was properly pronounced in the native tongue as “Soice” (rhymes with voice). But, the American inclination to say “Soose” stuck, and Geisel gave in, realizing that it was potentially profitable to rhyme with another famous name in children’s lit—Mother Goose.
Don’t say: silicone
Do say: silicon
The (nope, not kidding)
Technically speaking, there are some instances when one should say “thuh” and others when this word’s pronunciation should be “thee.” According to Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty, pronunciation of “the” depends on how you pronounce the word that follows it. If the following word begins with a consonant sound, you say “thuh” (as in, “thuh” farmhouse). But if the following word starts with a vowel sound, you say “thee” (as in, “thee” egg).
Thee egg and me, prestigious. Pass the mayo please.
Need a little vernal vocab to impress your friends?
Meaning: to build a nest
Photo courtesy GiantBirdsNest.com
Designed by OGE CreativeGroup as “a fusion of furniture and playground,” the Giant Birdsnest is pure farmgirl fantasy.
Photo courtesy GiantBirdsNest.com
“The wooden nest is filled with highly comfortable egg-shaped sitting poofs, which allow ergonomic sitting positions and various configurations for informal meetings and social exchange,” explain creators Merav Eitan and Gaston Zahr. “The nest comes in various sizes, from a small and intimate nest for one, up to a big version, which can host 16 people at once. The soft space is a perfectly comfortable and inspiring place for resting, browsing the Web, reading, relaxing, loving, talking, briefing, discussing … Simply jump in and enjoy.”
While pulchritudinous may not sound pretty, it actually means pretty.
Not pulling your leg, promise.
Pulchritudinous (go on, say it again) is synonymous with beautiful, physically attractive, comely.
Photo by Florida Memory via Wikimedia Commons
You get the picture.
Now, a dare:
Tell one of your good friends—you know, a Sister, a Farmgirl Sister, the kind that won’t unfriend you for little indiscretions—that she looks positively pulchritudinous today during this, our first annual Jubilee celebration.
Maybe say it with a little grimace, for effect.
Of course, after you stop giggling at her reaction,
All proceeds (minus shipping and packing) will benefit www.firstbook.org, a non-profit that provides new books to children from low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada.
MaryJane will post a photo of the prop and its cost here along with a few details as to its condition. The first person to call the farm and talk with Brian, 208-882-6819, becomes the new owner of a little bit of herstory. Shipping will be either USPS or UPS, our choice. No returns.