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Mispronunciation Can Lead to Misunderstanding

May 12, 1987|United Press International

CARSON — Mispronounced words lead to misunderstandings, a former broadcaster warns.

"Even if you have an avid audience, they have trouble concentrating on what you are saying rather than how you say it if you mispronounce a word, and especially a common one," said Douglas Spangler, associate vice president for university relations at Cal State Dominguez Hills and a veteran radio announcer and media critic.

Spangler finds the increasing number of broadcasters who mispronounce words particularly disconcerting. He has compiled a list of what he calls the seven most commonly mispronounced words in the English language.

1. Arctic-- Many people erroneously leave out the "c."

2. Realtor-- Spangler complains that even people in the industry insert an extra "la" in the middle of the word.

3. Athlete-- Commonly mispronounced "ath-el-ete."

4. Library-- Many people have difficulty forming the "br" sound, so the word becomes "li-berry."

5. Escape-- The combination of the "s" and "c" often turns into "ex-cape."

6. Nuclear-- Although nuclear power is a hot issue, most Americans cannot pronounce the word. Instead, they say "nu-cu-lar."

7. Surprise-- This first "r" is frequently dropped.

Spangler suggests that speakers should look at how a troublesome word is spelled. "No one who sees the word nuclear spelled out should mispronounce it. Sounding out a word often provides all the clues you need to pronounce it."

He added that if children were taught to spell phonetically, they might have better speech patterns.

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