I found a terrific lesson plan on the NCTE/IRA Read-Write-Think website regarding common pet peeves that Americans have regarding inaccurate pronunciation. The lesson plan gets students involved in identifying and explaining their own pronunciation pet peeves. See http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=1091 for the lesson plan.

I plan on using the lesson plan and have primed the pump a bit with my own list of pronunciation pet peeves. I tried to avoid foreign phrases, place names, technical terms, dialectical differences, or idiomatic expressions. For example, no "ax" for "ask." Many of the pronunciation errors described above are made by people with poor decoding or syllabication skills.

Following are our Top 40 Pronunciation Pet Peeves in no particular order. Please add to the list and get it off your chest before we begin school. It's good teacher therapy, I think.

1. Library is pronounced “lie-brair-ee,” not "lie-bear-ee.” [No, it’s not libarian either]
2. Nuclear is pronounced "nook-lee-er," not "nUke-U-ler." [Ode to Bush]
3. February is pronounced “Feb-roo-air-ee,” not "Feb-U-aire-ee.” [Frequently misspelled, as well]
4. Orange is pronounced “or-anj,” not "are-anj.” [Orange you glad you know this?]
5. Prostate is pronounced “praw-state,” not "praw-straight.” [Unless you are lying down]
6. Height is pronounced “hite,” not "hite with a ‘th’.” [That “e-i” or “width” must confuse us]
7. Probably is pronounced “praw-bab-lee,” not "prob-lee.” [Or some say “praw-lee”]
8. Definite is pronounced “def-in-nit,” not " def-ah-nut.” [It’s not “dah-fine” either]
9. Pronunciation is pronounced “pro-nun-see-a-tion,” not "pro-noun-see-a-tion.” [But pronounce]
10. Athlete is pronounced “ath-lete,” not "ath-ah-leet.” [Despite the ath-ah-leets foot commercials]
11. Strategy is pronounced “strat-uh-gee,” not "stra-ji-dee.” [Though we never say “stra-ji-jick”]
12. Aluminum is pronounced “uh-loo-mi-num,” not "al-U-min-um.” [Brits have their own version]
13. Etcetera (etc.) is pronounced “et-set-er-ah,” not "ek- set-er-ah.” [Not “ek-spe-shul-lee” either]
14. Supposedly is pronounced “suh-po-zed-lee,” not "su-pose-ub-lee.” [Or "su-pose-eh-blee”]
15. Difference is pronounced “di-fer-ence,” not "dif-rence.” [Often misspelled due to this error]
16. Mischievous is pronounced “mis-chuh-vus,” not "mis-chee-vee-us.” [You’ll look this one up]
17. Mayonnaise is pronounced “may-un-naze,” not "man-aise.” [“Ketchup-catsup” is another matter]
18. Miniature is pronounced “mi-ne-uh-ture,” not "min-ah-ture.” [Who drives an Austin “min-uh”?]
19. Definite is pronounced “de-fuh-nit,” not " def-ah-nut.” [For define, it’s “di-fine” not “dah-fine”]
20. Often is pronounced “off-ten,” not "off-en.” [Probably just sloppy pronunciation]
21. Internet is pronounced “In-ter-net,” not "In-nur-net.” [Not “in-ner-rest-ing either]
22. Groceries is pronounced “grow-sir-ees,” not "grow-sure-ees.” [It’s not “grow-sure” either]
23. Similar is pronounced “sim-ah-ler,” not "sim-U-lar.” [But Websters says “sim-ler” is fine]
24. Escape is pronounced “es-cape,” not "ex-cape.” [It’s not “ex-pres-so” either]
25. Lose is pronounced “luze,” not "loose.” [Think “choose,” not “moose”]
26. Temperature is pronounced “tem-per-ah-ture,” not "tem-prah-chur.” [Cute when kids say it]
27. Jewelry is pronounced “jewl-ree,” not "jew-ler-ree.” [More syllables won’t get you more carats]
28. Sandwich is pronounced “sand-which,” not "sam-which.” [Or “sam-mitch” either]
29. Realtor is pronounced “real-tor,” not "real-ah-tor.” [Similarly, it’s “di-late,” not “di-ah-late”]
30. Asterisk is pronounced “ass-tur-risk,” not "ass-trik.” [It’s not called a star, by the way]
31. Federal is pronounced “fed-ur-ul,” not "fed-rul.” [Use all syllables to ensure all federal holidays]
32. Candidate is pronounced “can-di-date,” not "can-uh-date.” [It’s not “can-nuh-date” either]
33. Hierarchy is pronounced “hi-ur-ar-kee,” not "hi-ar-kee.” [It’s not “arch-type”; it’s “ar-ki-type”]
34. Niche is pronounced “neesh,” not "nitch.” [This one drives some people crazy]
35. Sherbet is pronounced “sher-bet,” not "sher-bert.” [I’m sure, Burt]
36. Prescription is pronounced “pre-scrip-tion,” not "per-scrip-tion.” [and prerogative, not “per”]
37. Arctic is pronounced “ark-tik,” not "ar-tik.” [Not “ant-ar-tik-ah either]
38. Cabinet is pronounced “cab-uh-net,” not "cab-net.” [Likewise, it’s “cor-uh-net,” not “cor-net”]
39. Triathlon is pronounced “tri-ath-lon,” not "tri-ath-uh-lon.” [Not “bi-ath-uh-lon” either]
40. Forte is pronounced “forte,” not "for-tay.” [But Porche does have a slight “uh” at the end]

And for the culinary snobs among us… It’s “bru-chet-tah” or “bru-sket-tah,” but definitely not “bru-shet-tah.” And it’s “hear-row,” not “gear-row” or “ji-roh.”

Tags: alliteration, division, enunciation, fluency, grammar, oral, peeves, pet, problems, pronunciation

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I love these, Mark. I'm a writer over the summer and these are great to characterize my novel. Great authenticity for my characters.
thank you for posting this lesson plan! my students have a terrible time with learning pronunciation and monitoring their speaking. focusing on correctly saying words will be a huge help for them and this post reminded me of how important it really is to keep on them about doing and saying things correctly!

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