Pronunciation Pitfalls

Have you ever fallen into the pit of poor pronunciation?

We’ll start with what is possibly the worst word to mispronounce; it’s a horrible irony.

(True story) I once overheard a language teacher say to her students:

It’s absolutely essential you get your pronounciation right’.

The intended advice was excellent but… ‘pronounciation’? No. No.

Pronounce, pronunciation, pronouncement

Obviously it should be ‘pronunciation’ (the middle section sounds like ‘dunce’).

The word is a noun that refers to the way a word is articulated by the voice. It is related to the verb ‘to pronounce’, which is probably the reason some people make the mistake when pronouncing the word.

Note: there is no verb ‘to pronunciate’ (even though you might have heard it, as I have).

Another noun related to ‘pronounce’ is ‘pronouncement’, which means ‘a formal declaration’. It means much the same as ‘announcement’, which has similar rules for the way its nouns and verb work.

Announce, annunciation, announcement

The verb ‘to announce’ doesn’t usually cause any problems. Two nouns are related to it.

The most common one is ‘announcement’, which means a declaration or public statement. Another, ‘annunciation’, tends to be used only in a religious context – i.e. The Annunciation, which marks the announcement to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of the Christ.

Note: there is no verb ‘to annunciate’. Some people think it sounds right but they probably confuse it with yet another similar set of words. Read on.

Enunciate, enunciation

The verb ‘to enunciate’ means to say or pronounce something clearly. It can, in some cases, also mean to express an idea very precisely, in writing.

The noun associated with it is ‘enunciation’, which refers to the process of doing both of the above.

Don’t tumble into the pit of poor pronunciation.

And don’t take the (probably tongue in cheek) advice of US English professor, William Strunk, Jr., who said:

If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, say it loud!

It doesn’t work.

See more ways to Lift Your Language.