Author Topic: s/o adults should know this - retrospectively obvious things you've just learned  (Read 105735 times)

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lowspark

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I saw Hermione Gingold on Broadway when I was in high school and knew the name from her. But I can sure see how it would not be intuitive to know how to pronounce that name had you never heard how to say it out loud.

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lady_disdain

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I had heard the word epitome and knew what it meant/proper usage. But for some reason when I read it, the voice in my head pronounced it "ep-ee-tome" I was living in a world with both words for years

Well, here's my contribution to the thread  :-[.  How is it pronounced?

eh-pih-toh-mee

I used "epitome" in talking to DH a few days ago.  He replied, "Don't use words you've only read in books."

Really? Wow. I absolutely do not agree with that advice. My younger son is and always has been an avid reader. He learned a great deal of vocabulary from books. And based on the context, he could understand the meaning of lots of words without having to look them up.

Often, while growing up, he would use a word properly but mispronounce it. I would correct him on his pronunciation and then commend him on not only growing his vocabulary, but on retaining the meaning of words he'd never heard said out loud.

What difference does it make how you expand your vocabulary, whether it's from reading, talking to people or whatever? I'm scratching my head over this one.  :o

Because if you just read a word, instead of hearing it, you may use one of the "alternative" pronunciations we are talking about here :)

lowspark

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Yeah, I get it. Like I said, my son often mispronounced words he'd only read and not heard. But it was much more important that he knew what the word meant and used it properly. Especially in a world where the same word can be pronounced so many different ways depending on where the speaker is from. I'd hate to tell him to banish all words from his vocabulary that he had never actually heard anyone say.

EMuir

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For some reason I grew up thinking myopic meant blind.  I said "I'm nearsighted, but at least I'm not myopic" to friends and had to wait until they'd stopped laughing to find out why...

Virg

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lowspark wrote:

"Like I said, my son often mispronounced words he'd only read and not heard. But it was much more important that he knew what the word meant and used it properly. Especially in a world where the same word can be pronounced so many different ways depending on where the speaker is from. I'd hate to tell him to banish all words from his vocabulary that he had never actually heard anyone say."

My take on it is to tell people, if they've never heard a word spoken, it's a good idea to look up the pronunciation in a dictionary or online before speaking it.  That eliminates the idea that you can't learn new words from written works but cuts down on "alternate" pronunciations.

Virg

Piratelvr1121

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Until book 4 (I think) of the Harry Potter series, I had no idea how to pronounce Hermione's name.  One of the character's (Ron?) got a bit drunk and said it very slowly and deliberately:  "Her-MY-oh-NEE", and I was all "... ohhhh."

Same here.  Then I was working somewhere once and saw the name and was pleased I knew how to pronounce it! :)
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jedikaiti

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Yeah, I get it. Like I said, my son often mispronounced words he'd only read and not heard. But it was much more important that he knew what the word meant and used it properly. Especially in a world where the same word can be pronounced so many different ways depending on where the speaker is from. I'd hate to tell him to banish all words from his vocabulary that he had never actually heard anyone say.

But if he'd like to learn how a new word is pronounced first, dictionaries have pronunciation guides! :-)
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TootsNYC

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Americans will probably roll their eyes at this but I had no idea that the word "coloured" was racist. Of course, once I saw that I worked out that for someone to be coloured meant that some people were not coloured, rather than everyone's skin having  a colour.

What can I say? I never used the word, but then I never had any reason to talk about someone's skin colour. People are people, you know? Our largest ethnic minority where I live is white and we're simply not very aware about race issues. I'm really glad I found out before I stuck my foot in it though.

What's funny is that "person of color" became the very politically correct term to use because it encompasses all races, etc. But "colored" wouldn't have flown.

TootsNYC

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lowspark wrote:

"Like I said, my son often mispronounced words he'd only read and not heard. But it was much more important that he knew what the word meant and used it properly. Especially in a world where the same word can be pronounced so many different ways depending on where the speaker is from. I'd hate to tell him to banish all words from his vocabulary that he had never actually heard anyone say."

My take on it is to tell people, if they've never heard a word spoken, it's a good idea to look up the pronunciation in a dictionary or online before speaking it.  That eliminates the idea that you can't learn new words from written works but cuts down on "alternate" pronunciations.

Virg

I think that has a chilling effect. It becomes so much work that nobody ever bothers.

I think people should just forge on ahead, using the right word even if they pronounce it wrong. and then other people can simply tell the the correct pronunciation, and they can just go blithlely on, pronouncing it right because someone told them.

My daughter also pronounced words exactly as they read (still does--she's in college). I just tell her the right pronunciation and then focus on the substance of what she is saying.

lowspark

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Yeah, I get it. Like I said, my son often mispronounced words he'd only read and not heard. But it was much more important that he knew what the word meant and used it properly. Especially in a world where the same word can be pronounced so many different ways depending on where the speaker is from. I'd hate to tell him to banish all words from his vocabulary that he had never actually heard anyone say.

But if he'd like to learn how a new word is pronounced first, dictionaries have pronunciation guides! :-)

LOL yeah. Convincing a kid who is glued to his book to put it down long enough to grab the dictionary and look up a word that he can already figure out the meaning to is much harder than it sounds. And it doesn't really even sound all that easy.

I think it sounds like good advice in theory but in practice I don't think there's a conscious process of
--oh! new word, wonder what it means, wonder how it's pronounced, maybe I should look it up.

It's more like a subconcious understanding of the sentence/paragraph and the new word which happens to contribute to that meaning sinking in. And with repeated reading of that particular word over time, it just gets internalized with the pronunciation which the reader attributes to it, again, subconciously.


Ms_Cellany

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I didn't just find this out - it was when I was about 13 - but I'm still kind of embarrassed.   When I was a kid, my mother used to cut my fingernails for me with a pair of nail scissors.  These scissors were like any other kind; i.e. they were for right-handed people only.  That's why I needed her help - I could cut my left hand's nails, but not my right.  One day, I said to my friend "I have no idea how I'm going to cut my nails when I'm grown up and in a place of my own.  I'll probably have to call Mum over to help me!"  She looked at me oddly and said "Um, just use nail clippers."  "Huh?  What are those?"  "You're kidding, right?"

I wasn't.  I'd never heard of them.

My nail scissors have straight circular metal handles.  They can be used by persons of either-handed pursuasion.  I've not seen them otherwise (thoguht larger scissor ofen are...)


It's not just the shape of the handles; it's the direction that the blades cross each other.
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snowflake

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I'm really embarrassed about this, but I can't snap my fingers. 

I suppose I could have tried to figure it out but I couldn't bring myself to do it because the sound makes my blood run cold.  (Cracking knuckles does too.)  I took a fun dance class a few years ago and faked it (with 20 other people snapping, who can tell?)

For the life of me, I cannot make myself draw an ampersand.  It comes out funny every time.  Of course I can't draw and my handwriting stinks too.

I grew up in an area where everyone was a member of the Purple political party.  I heard many times that every Yellow political party member was crooked, immoral, and destroying the country.  Whenever there was a Yellow scandal, I heard about how it was because they were a Yellow and no Purple would EVER be caught doing anything wrong. 

After I was about 14 I started seeing the whole political situation a little more balanced.  But I was 30 before I realized that one of the more famous "caught" politicians of our age was Purple.  I guess growing up hearing about his misdeeds and the Anti-Yellow rants, I assumed from a young age that he was Yellow.  I MUST have heard this information hundreds of times.  As a teen and young person, I spent a whole lot of time following politics in the US because I'm odd and I like it.  I used to think I was "Very well informed politically" but obviously not. 

(You probably know what I'm talking about, but this is not meant to be condemning of either political party.)

BatCity

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Okay, I've got one. Groundhog Day.

About the time the internet became a big thing (maybe 1996 or so), it occurred to me that Groundhog Day didn't make any sense. Until then I just assumed it was a real thing.

So I set about looking for anything I could find on the veracity of this silly holiday. I found nothing. Every newspaper article or TV broadcast would say things like "Groundhog Day is the day that groundhogs come out of their burrow, and if they see their shadow, blah de blah blah".  Never once did anyone utter the words "according to legend", "according to popular belief", or even "allegedly". Nope, they all just stated it as if it were fact.

I finally found something under "Groundhog" in an old encyclopedia explaining how the legend started. I was 26.

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I'm really embarrassed about this, but I can't snap my fingers. 

I suppose I could have tried to figure it out but I couldn't bring myself to do it because the sound makes my blood run cold.  (Cracking knuckles does too.)  I took a fun dance class a few years ago and faked it (with 20 other people snapping, who can tell?)

For the life of me, I cannot make myself draw an ampersand.  It comes out funny every time.  Of course I can't draw and my handwriting stinks too.

I grew up in an area where everyone was a member of the Purple political party.  I heard many times that every Yellow political party member was crooked, immoral, and destroying the country.  Whenever there was a Yellow scandal, I heard about how it was because they were a Yellow and no Purple would EVER be caught doing anything wrong. 

After I was about 14 I started seeing the whole political situation a little more balanced.  But I was 30 before I realized that one of the more famous "caught" politicians of our age was Purple.  I guess growing up hearing about his misdeeds and the Anti-Yellow rants, I assumed from a young age that he was Yellow.  I MUST have heard this information hundreds of times.  As a teen and young person, I spent a whole lot of time following politics in the US because I'm odd and I like it.  I used to think I was "Very well informed politically" but obviously not. 

(You probably know what I'm talking about, but this is not meant to be condemning of either political party.)
I think all political parties have their share of "crooked, immoral, and destroying the country" members.
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katycoo

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I didn't just find this out - it was when I was about 13 - but I'm still kind of embarrassed.   When I was a kid, my mother used to cut my fingernails for me with a pair of nail scissors.  These scissors were like any other kind; i.e. they were for right-handed people only.  That's why I needed her help - I could cut my left hand's nails, but not my right.  One day, I said to my friend "I have no idea how I'm going to cut my nails when I'm grown up and in a place of my own.  I'll probably have to call Mum over to help me!"  She looked at me oddly and said "Um, just use nail clippers."  "Huh?  What are those?"  "You're kidding, right?"

I wasn't.  I'd never heard of them.

My nail scissors have straight circular metal handles.  They can be used by persons of either-handed pursuasion.  I've not seen them otherwise (thoguht larger scissor ofen are...)


It's not just the shape of the handles; it's the direction that the blades cross each other.

But it doesn't make any difference.  After all, I use my left hand to cut the nails on my right and both hands look the same at the end.