Friday, June 22, 2012

Right But Wrong

As a good example of my linguistic hypocrisy, I note the pronunciation of mischievous.  I have long stated that spelling and etymology are only guides to language, not rules, and whatever native speakers of a language, or if you are fussy - educated, intelligent speakers of a language - say is correct.  All other distinctions are markers of class, region, or at most, examples of usage in inappropriate context. That is, the situation required a more formal diction or expression which the speaker neglected.  But even that is social convention.

But I cringe whenever I hear the pronunciation mischeevee-ussly.  There's no "i" in that syllable, dammit.  Today I heard three intelligent, educated professionals use that pronunciation.

They're just wrong.


Texan99 said...

Your head says descriptivist , but your heart says prescriptionist.

Michael said...

For me, the squeaking chalk on the blackboard is "nu-cu-ler". Where do people get that second "u" from? Again, I've heard it from educated people as well, including presidents.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yup. PhD physicists at Oak Ridge, TN if they are from the south, or so I've heard. But this finding letters that aren't there bothers me.

Sam L. said...

Way back when, I heard people pronouncing "expeditiously" as
"expediously" and "siren" as "si-reene" (emphasis on second syllable).

I was expecting the "mischeeviously" pronunciation. I trust you know people who pronounce words differently because the words are funnier that way. OK, you don't know ME, but I do comment with some frequency (242 Hz, usually).