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Saying words wrong on purpose

Fun little article by Grant Barrett about people saying words wrong on purpose.

I sometimes say “muscles” so that the ‘c’ has a ‘k’ sound (the same way the cartoon character Popeye says it), computor instead of “computer” (after Ned Beatty’s exaggerated pronunciation of “Mr Luthor” in the Superman movies), and I occasionally say benimber instead of “remember” because it was something my cousin Paul said more than 20 years ago.

I use several of these mispronunciations regularly, which drives Meg nuts. Nucular, saxamaphone, muscles with Popeye’s hard c, computor, robit for robot, etc. Those of you who speak other languages…is this a common behavior outside of English?

Update: Language Log found a 1932 article about Intentional Mispronunciations. From a summary of the article:

Her categories include everything from adding or subtracting syllables and restressing (antique as “an-tee-cue”, “champeen”, “the-‘ater”), tensing lax vowels (“genu-wine”), borrowing of “vulgar” pronunciations (“agin”, “extry”, “who’d-a thunk it”, “varmint”)…

Reader comments

Topham BeauclerkApr 03, 2008 at 11:14AM

When she was small, my daughter said "foilet," for "toilet," so that's become fairly standard around my house.

MargaretApr 03, 2008 at 11:21AM

My sister and I sometimes say "stip du lick" for lipstick—we were trying to be vaguely French and say "stick du lip", but transposed the consonants. The result was so ridiculous, we kept it.

Christian Apr 03, 2008 at 11:25AM

As a German I do it all the time. I even missed it in the English language, you're the first one mentioning it. Cool!

J.Apr 03, 2008 at 11:25AM

Some of my favorites are "wrasslin" for "wrestling", "schedule" in a pompous faux-english "shed-yool", "ah-zhenda" for agenda, and the classic "robit".

I'm also fond of substituting words like "worst" instead of "west", as in Worst Palm Beach, FL (where I happen to live).

SeanApr 03, 2008 at 11:26AM

I love my three-year-old son's words for robot -- Robop -- and garbage -- jarbage-- that I sometimes use them. In France there was a youth slang featured in the movie "L'haine" that involved pronouncing French word backwards.

Mouser, Nuclear Engineer.Apr 03, 2008 at 11:26AM

Shame on you for nucular. I'll just start calling you Jason "G.W." Kottke.

I say Megamabytes a lot.

nowakApr 03, 2008 at 11:26AM

Growing up in Poland/Germany, as a four year old I had a hard time saying Volkswagen. It would often come out as "Oggagen". My parents would repeat this for years. Even know, despite being mostly English speaking. They never let me forget it. So yes, it happens.

TheNagApr 03, 2008 at 11:26AM

My husband says "Goggle" instead of "Google". He'd better start goggling divorce.

TeleolurianApr 03, 2008 at 11:27AM

I wonder if Verlan is related to this phenomenon.

NerdsavantApr 03, 2008 at 11:29AM

It's a lot more common for me to type wrong on purpose than to use incorrect pronunciation. I do say "anyhoo," occasionally, or call the internet the "interweb," or my favorite, the "intertubes." But I'm just as likely to randomly lapse into lolcat in the middle of an email or IM or Twitter post.

Jake VanceApr 03, 2008 at 11:31AM

Sham-Pan-Ya for Champagne.
Gor-Boj for Garbage.

I'm sure there are a few others. My wife and I do this all the time.

JRApr 03, 2008 at 11:32AM

My girlfriend says "supposably" (intentionally) fairly often, and it cracks me up every time.

Søren KøhlerApr 03, 2008 at 11:33AM

In Denmark a common on-purpose mispronunciation is saying "indernet" indstead of "internet". I believe it originates back in the nineties when especially the older part of the population had trouble pronouncing this newfangled english word. Also, Indernet actually means "Indian net" in Danish...

hilkerApr 03, 2008 at 11:33AM

For ten years or so I've used "promble" in place of "problem" when referring to predicaments caused by my own stupidity, in honor of a Usenet post that Kibo quoted once.

JaredApr 03, 2008 at 11:34AM

We met a little kid that called our cell phones "flones", so we started calling them that. It's like a way of personalizing language, I guess.

JackSimApr 03, 2008 at 11:35AM

It's a common behavior in French too. Often used for puns, but not necessarily.

AnthonyApr 03, 2008 at 11:35AM

Skizz-ers for scissors. Not sure where it came from or when I started it.

GuyApr 03, 2008 at 11:39AM

I say gee tar instead of guitar; idear instead of idea, and do the literal pronunciation of filet mignon (e.g. fil let mig non) every time I think of ordering a juicy steak. I'm also with J on wraslin and shed-yool.

ChristopherApr 03, 2008 at 11:40AM

Jason, I think this makes you certifiably a dad. My father would always reverse the order of syllables and mispronouce words because he knew it would make us laugh and go "Daaad..." His favorites were watapotami for Potawatomi (I grew up in Illinois, so this word came up), and pie-za for for pizza.

I got in the habit of saying may-oh-naisse for mayonnaise (pronounce the "o" and "s" not "z" sound) when I was in high school. It drove everyone nuts.

In Japanese and Chinese, there are a lot of superstitions around phrases that sound like other phrases. For instance, it's bad luck to clip your toenails after dark in Japan, because it sounds like the phrase that basically means you will die before your parents.

EricaApr 03, 2008 at 11:41AM

I sometimes do muskles, saxamaphone, champaGne, plus a fake-snobby ma-toor for mature, and Canadia for Canada (although on one occasion someone corrected me, believing that I actually didn't know that is was Canada!)

JoshApr 03, 2008 at 11:41AM

These all sound like perfectly cromulent words.

JoshApr 03, 2008 at 11:46AM

Be careful if you mispronounce words on purpose (poipose) because after a while, they become your standard pronunciation. That's all well and good around family and friends, but may haunt you in a job interview or something formal like that.

I once mimicked George Costanza's snort laugh on Seinfeld, and now I'm stuck with it. Horribly embarrassing.

Nick HusherApr 03, 2008 at 11:46AM

My little sister had trouble with long words when she was little, she tended to transpose or mix up sounds in words longer than three syllables. The one that stuck, and remains in my father's household is Hangaber (Hang-ga-ber) for Hamburger.

MenaApr 03, 2008 at 11:48AM

Our habit of saying saxamaphone is so severe that the word sneaks up on us every time we read "Animal Orchestra" to Penelope. And, it's usually completely unintentional. I swear, that girl is not going to know what the real word is.

MikeApr 03, 2008 at 11:48AM

"Mcputer" for computer
and "Aminal" for animal, which we got from my 2-year-old daughter.

Joe BenjaminApr 03, 2008 at 11:49AM

The Japanese have a way of combining words to make short and usually cute references to long nouns, for instance SquEnix for Square/Enix. I think regional differences could apply to this too, like the French who think of Quebecois pronunciation funny, Americans who say 'wh-' words using the English 'hw-', Ebonics, and the deep south ("Whut ya gun n' dun that fer?").

Every time I see the word principle I think of a Simpsons episode where the elementary class is taken on an archaeological dig. Ralph's trowel head breaks off and he shouts "Princeskipple Skipper, I founded a arrowhead!".

mTpApr 03, 2008 at 11:49AM

When I lived in the Dominican Republic many of my Dominican friends (Spanish speakers) would call Massachusetts - Macabuchay. No idea why?

They would also take my name Michael and pronounce it in Spanish as 'Meecha-el'.

I do not recall any twisting of Spanish words to make something new. They already have a strong accent that looses all 'S's. This would create the common greeting of ?Como tu estas? (how are you) into ?Comotutah?

This seems similar to what you are saying but is closer to making fun of a Bostonian with "When I was at the pahty, I lost my cahkeys." (party, car keys)

slothdogApr 03, 2008 at 11:50AM

No mention yet of Tar-zhay?

My 2yo daughter had an interesting one for "Fuddruckers" that's probably best left to the imagination.

EricApr 03, 2008 at 11:51AM

When we're watching my wife's shows on HGTV, I like to point out a lovely "foy-yay" (foyer). I know some people actually pronounce it this way, but it's funnier when I use my Oklahoma accent.

TomekApr 03, 2008 at 11:53AM

Being from Poland I can confirm that it is a common behaviour outside of English

JApr 03, 2008 at 11:57AM

A friend of mine.. and her whole family... always pronounces the word orange "oinge" as some sort of in-joke that they can't even explain.

My sister and I still call all firemen, construction guys, etc. "yerker men", based on her baby-talk.

I think it's pretty common to refer to Target stores as "Tar-jay" (ridiculous French accent optional).

BlipApr 03, 2008 at 12:12PM

From brazilian portuguese, and also spanish, I say yes, ferpectly common.

Lucky McClaneApr 03, 2008 at 12:12PM

Jeep pronounced Heep.

JeffApr 03, 2008 at 12:12PM

What, no one has mentioned the staple of our children's dinners: pasghetti.

And our favorite family idiolect for where I work: the Misonian (Smithsonian).

BoApr 03, 2008 at 12:13PM

I'm starting to use "buffit" for buffet (serving style), just as my dad did, to my huge embarrassment. Cereal is "cerdy," the newspaper is "pape," forgot is "forbegot," all from my habits as a kid. I've added others since: garbaccio for garbage, ferk for fork, niffy for knife, etc.

And now that I have a toddler: BOO-tocks for buttocks and die-APT-er for diaper and disGUTsing for disgusting. (Sadly, it seems I've developed a theme.)

Finally, I'd like to put in a plug for Bob Roll, who does the pre-race show for the Tour de France on Versus. He just can't help taking a dig at his hosts: "What a great day here at the Tour DAY Frants!" I chuckle every time.

The ColonelApr 03, 2008 at 12:13PM

Chee-hyooa-hyooa in the place of Chihuahua is one of my favorites.

The list goes on and on, but foreign words (Fa-jy-ta instead of fajita, for instance) pronounced phonetically consistently amuse me.

JacobApr 03, 2008 at 12:13PM

Deb-riss instead of debris is a good one.

robinaApr 03, 2008 at 12:13PM

I used Canadia quite a bit (esp when I was living there and speaking with friends back home), and it still pops up from time to time. Other favs: sham-pahn-ya, muskles, gradumagation (graduation), shedual (schedule), internerd & lurve (thanks blogosphere!), and compooter.

JMApr 03, 2008 at 12:15PM

As a child, I said, "hopticopter" instead of "helicopter" and my 3yo daughter recently made that mistake herself, totally independently I believe. So, that's become a standard. Another childhood mistake that has become a standard in our family is "Bugsweiser" instead of "Budweiser." (I'm somewhat horrified that I was saying this word at all.)

Two of my daughters' mispronunciations (or misreferrals) that we're trying to incorporate into our family lexicon include: "Cinderella cheese" instead of "mozzarella cheese" and "The Shirley Temple" instead of "the Hare Krishna Temple." (We happened to be singing "On the Good Ship Lollipop" en route to celebrate Janmashtami last year and the connection was irresistible for her.)

MitchApr 03, 2008 at 12:20PM

I say "sang-wich" for sandwich an awful lot. And "BK Lounge" for Burger King. And I'm not really that big of a Dane Cook fan, either. Both are much more fun to say.

A lot of folks say that something is "really adddicting," the latter of which is not a word. It's "addictive." That's one of my pet peeves.

I use cromulent fairly often too, but that doesn't really apply in this discussion.

RoamsedgeApr 03, 2008 at 12:20PM

Chick'n for kitchen is very common in my family. My daughter first called pickup trucks "hick-up" trucks and continues to do so. Garbage pronounced with a terribly fake Italian accent.

jonApr 03, 2008 at 12:22PM

and don't forget the lazy "comf-terble"

jkottkeApr 03, 2008 at 12:24PM

Reading all these comments, I'm realizing that I do this a LOT more than I thought. Tar-jay, hangaber, poipose, champaGne, cham-pan-ya (and, per Zapp Brannigan from Futurama, champ-pagan), may-oh-naisse, Canadia, skizz-ers, gee-tar, shed-yool, gar-baj, etc. and two that haven't been mentioned: Jacques Penn-ay for JC Penney and -- I don't know if I should actually share this one -- A Bit of the Ol' Ronald Mac for McDonald's.

How my wife has put up with all this for so long is amazing...I don't recall her ever intentionally mispronouncing anything.

kgessnerApr 03, 2008 at 12:32PM

Don't forget "murtherfore" for "furthermore"

HenryApr 03, 2008 at 12:36PM

I speak Afrikaans as a first language and English as a second. In our house there are a few words in both languages which we mispronounce.

My two boys (2 and 5) used to correct my pronunciation, but they seem to be in on the game now.

I did not think that this sort of thing was so common.

greg.orgApr 03, 2008 at 12:43PM

I used to pronounce facetious "fah-set-ee-us" in hopes that someone would correct me, and then i'd sprig my know-it-all trap on them.

The Simpsons mention reminds me of the classic, "Oh, Papa Homer you are so learn-ed." "hehe, Learnd, son it's pronounced learnd."

JamieApr 03, 2008 at 12:46PM

I often say 'prolly' instead of 'probably'. Prolly just lazy.

Also, I think some words that I pronounce oddly are holdovers from learning to spell.

I sometimes say busy-ness for business. There are others, but I'm blanking right now...

JamieApr 03, 2008 at 12:48PM

Nuculear always bothers me when my dad says it. Two others that drive me crazy:
amblience for ambulance
simular for similar

Dave VogtApr 03, 2008 at 12:51PM

derived from the abbreviation B-day (for birthday), I always wish people a happy bidet.

others include ejumikayshun (education), pisketty (spaghetti), and sammich (sandwich). I intentionally switch pronunciations of Appalachian at random.

atomApr 03, 2008 at 12:59PM

I remember studying German in high school and learning tem-PEAR-ah-tour for temperature. I don't know if it's a correct German pronunciation, but I know it's my default pronunciation now.

Which reminds me. I say pro-NOUN-ci-ation sometimes, too.

Alain AzzamApr 03, 2008 at 1:00PM

Anu Garg would slap all your little fingers if she saw this thread :)
If you don't know who Anu Garg is then please Google her. I've been on her amazing mailing list for over six years now, oh how do I love her daily quotes, not only her daily choice of new words.

I speak French at home and we often mispronounce words, but the rule is that we need to innovate each time. Actually it's more of an implicit rule that we also apply to jokes: repeated jokes are somewhat illegal and so are repeated mispronounced words. If you are intelligent enough to mispronounce a word, then you should be able to find a new mispronunciation to that same word each time you use it.

Don't worry we don't enforce this rule.

David SutoyoApr 03, 2008 at 1:12PM

We do that quite a bit in Mandarin, usually as parody for words that are commonly mispronounced.

PeterApr 03, 2008 at 1:20PM

Eric: It drives my wife and I nuts every time someone pronounces it "foy-er". But then, we're also in Canada where everyone says "foy-ay".

BirdyApr 03, 2008 at 1:21PM

I do the skizz-ers thing kids (6 and 3) raise their eyebrows and are quick to correct me. "You're funny Mommy!"

I also will say Spaghetti-Goes for Spaghetti-Os and Scketti for Spaghetti.

I do stutter (sometimes) so I purposely mispronounce words (not the ones above) to make them easier to say or as a defense mechanism (some times the stutter is lessened when I speak in a accent). It makes some wonder where I am from and try to guess my accent. (Mostly they think it's French) Shrug.

StevenApr 03, 2008 at 1:22PM


scottandrewApr 03, 2008 at 1:23PM

No one here has used "teh" (tay) in place of "the," JeffK style? Hm.

My sin: "sowce" in place of "sauce." Picked up from the SNL skit with Dana Carvey. Baby love sowce! Girlfriend, however, does NOT love sowce, and has threatened me with bodily injury over my continual usage.

See also:

"sowsage" in place of "sausage."

Review StewApr 03, 2008 at 1:27PM

Like Mitch, I say "sangwich" .. in fact grew up thinking that people who pronounced the "d" were putting on affectations. It's deeply ingrained, and I learned later that it's supposedly part of a San Francisco accent.

When living in Japan in the mid-90s, I remember folks would put on thick rural or Kansai dialects for certain words/phrases. Seemed like for self-amusement, much like saying "saxamaphone."

Hanan CohenApr 03, 2008 at 1:36PM

This phenomenon is one of the explanations for OK

DominikApr 03, 2008 at 1:37PM

Oh no. People who do drive me nuts. Especially those who do it, because their kids do it. Or because they already talked like this as kids.
It is acceptable when those kids are around, but once it's a conversation between grown-ups, this want-to-be-cute-ness drives me insane. Especially when it comes from guys.

laffter58Apr 03, 2008 at 1:40PM

Our family still says some words that my sister's kids mispronounced when toddlers. "Hankeburger" for hamburger, "frigerfator" for refrigerator, "air kesheen" for air conditioning, "tomarno" for tomorrow, and "the kation" for vacation.

JenguinApr 03, 2008 at 1:55PM

Guilty of the Muscles one and Skizzers too. Geetar.. yup. Gar-baj - yup. Wow..

For years we've been calling Target-Tar Jay.. also my friends and I say "shoes" as "shoe-ez" I have no idea why, it just became a thing.

EmilyApr 03, 2008 at 1:58PM

When I say "sushi" it rhymes with "pushy" rather than like "soooo-shi".

jayApr 03, 2008 at 2:00PM

Faghita instead of fajita is a common one around my house.
As is sammich.

caitlinApr 03, 2008 at 2:04PM

ques-a-dill-a instead of ques-a-dee-ya is a common one here in texas (before napoleon dynamite even). jah-lop-uh-no instead of jalapeno is another common one. i don't know if the intentional mispronunciation of spanish words that have become integrated into english is a texas thing or not.

i tend to say "oh noes!" a lot, shamefully taken from lolcats. there's a southern grocery store chain called H.E.B. (initials of the founder's name), and a lot of people call it "heeb" instead.

an example of a malapropism my boyfriend likes to use "i'm super cereal, guys" (taken mostly from south park's al gore representation).

this is fun

JulianApr 03, 2008 at 2:10PM

We can't call him Jason "G.W." Kottke, we'd call him Jason F. Kennedy.

SherriApr 03, 2008 at 2:11PM

Peter: I'm in Canadia, too, and can't stand "foy-er" either!

Also, niche is neesh. I cringe every time I hear nitch.

Michelle in KCApr 03, 2008 at 2:16PM

I made my first visit to North Carolina recently, and I didn't realize that many North Carolinians refer to their state as "Nort Cackalacky." It sounds hilarious, and I'm laughing a little to myself just sounding it out in my head. And I guess it's more of a nickname than a mispronunciation. But geez, where in gawd's name did that come from ?

MelodyApr 03, 2008 at 2:22PM

My family says "I want to axe you a question" . Cracks us up every time. I have a pet peeve about people who say "It's a whole nother thing". What does "nother" mean? And for some reason, my husband and I always refer to a fork as a forchette and we are not remotely French.

AmyApr 03, 2008 at 2:28PM

"Horse doo-vers" for hors doeuvres from my dad, and "booshy" or "boojy" as a shorthand for bourgeois or the bourgeoisie.

"Trumbles" for tummy rumbles due to hunger. Also, I'm guilty of "sammich" fairly constantly.

alstkiApr 03, 2008 at 2:33PM

I like to exaggerate the 'er' sounds with a over the top Brit effect. Such as in "I shall endeav-ah to do bett-ah in the fut-chah!"

All the damn time I do this.

jackApr 03, 2008 at 2:35PM

Hopter-copter for helicopter. Apparently when I was small I'd say "doferd" for "gopher", and I'm told it stuck around until we moved to an area with no gophers to speak of.

My daughter is at an age where she is incensed by deliberate mispronunciation, which makes it much funnier.

D BrownApr 03, 2008 at 2:37PM

Smello! Smell you later.

Not a good idea, according to Pam.

Jenna RoccaApr 03, 2008 at 2:43PM

My partner says "compooter" which I've adopted. I've been mis-saying the following for years:


I also say "meekeekookoo" to mean Milk and Cookies.

JoshApr 03, 2008 at 2:45PM

One comment made me remember when I accidentally caught a NASCAR race on TV and a driver was talking about hurting his hand on an "am-ba-lance". I figured the ambalance was some super technical part of a car that I didn't know about, so I tried to look it up, and couldn't find it. Took about 15 minutes before I realized that it was one of those trucks that paramedics ride around in.

SamiApr 03, 2008 at 2:50PM

I love doing this. "Tomano" for "tomorrow," after my little brother. My best friend refers to bagles as "baggles," subtle but still laughable. Also, I must have said "quesadiLas" like eight times in the past two days.

Dan BanaApr 03, 2008 at 2:54PM

I have always wondered if this is how people started saying "aks" or "axe" instead of ask. It bugs me every time I hear it. Even Chris Rock says "axe" instead of ask when he speaking.

It is predominately used by African-Americans as far as I can see in the northeast part of the US. Is this some type of cultural phenomenon?

Horse N. BuggyApr 03, 2008 at 3:05PM

I love to use these kinds of mispronunciations in casual conversation to try to be witty. However, I DESPISE the "tar-zhay" thing. For me it boils down to whether or not you always say words this way or if you only do it in specific circumstances and company. In my experience (not meaning to offend anyone), people who say "Tar-zhay" are looking to pretentiously elevate Target over Wal-mart. You don't need a fake French accent to do that, the level of products and service should stand on their own merit. (I like both stores, but for different products and reasons.)

As for the "nother" issue, see the third definition at this link. I believe it is one of these things that people did so often a long time ago that the way all of us speak was eventually affected. (You wait, 200 years in the future, everyone is going to swear that the correct name of the store is "Tar-zhay.")

Foy-er. I live in the South. I did not know until I was an adult that people pronounced that word any other way.

The one I probably say most often, that I haven't seen anyone mention yet, is to ask someone after they've obviously had a haircut if they got their "har did." That's not just a Southern thing, that's a mountain thang. A follow-up compliment would be to tell them, "yur har looks purty." Lord, I could go on all day using mountain speak.

Del ShimandleApr 03, 2008 at 3:07PM

Thanks for a post that brings back some nice memories Jason. I grew up in a family with a very elaborate idiolect (thanks for the new word, Jeff!) which included a large vocabulary of reconfigured pronunciations. Bohemian and English were both employed and corrupted so completely that my head is full of words and phrases that may be Bohemian, English or entirely invented and native only to us! Fun to read that this experience was had by others too!

One of my favorite mipronunciations was Grandma Shimandle always using "Fufalob" in place of "Buffalo." Which makes one wonder how often the word Buffalo came up in our house!?

kenApr 03, 2008 at 3:09PM

In addition to many of the above, I say, from Seinfeld, "ridicurous."

Gotta second Josh: be careful when playing with George Costanza's snort laugh. Your laugh will get stuck like that.

CharlotteApr 03, 2008 at 3:09PM

JuJuBes will forever be WhoWhoBays. They sound so very mysterious that way.

AnthonyApr 03, 2008 at 3:16PM

Our five year old Beatles obsessed son calls his favorite bass player Paul Ka•nart•ny -- he will forever be known as such. It's just much more fun to be wrong sometimes.

kariApr 03, 2008 at 3:18PM

Most of our mispronunciation jokes come from me & my sister's childhood: Psghetti/spaghetti, cimmanon/cinnamon (sometimes cimmaninnamon when we're feeling fancy), beat selt/seat belt.

ProBEobly/probably, from my phonetic spelling days.

Other ones come from my mom's family & have always bugged me: ParMEEzhan/parmesan, warsh/wash, maysure/measure... The "warsh" thing was particularly embarrassing when we moved to Warshington state when I was in elementary school. Bah!

sbApr 03, 2008 at 3:22PM

We call the refrigerator a "fridge-ah-lator" which hearkens back to dd's childhood. And I've called a telephone a "telly-pa-hone-y" since my friends and I joked about it in high school.

In both cases, it's linguistic nostalgia.

danApr 03, 2008 at 3:23PM

This is a little like putting swashes on OCR-A, isn't it?

justineApr 03, 2008 at 3:25PM

yes - happens in my french too. Some examples:

T'Champsss Zeelizeez - for Champs Elysees pronounced with American accent.

Mache Tes Chaussettes - for Massachusetts. Means "Chew your socks".

Mootardasse - for moutarde (mustard).

Arretauport - for aeroport (airport). Sounds like "stop at the port".

electrastephApr 03, 2008 at 3:25PM

"Remebery" for memory and remember, because that's what I thought it was when I was a kid. "Sammich" because brother always said it that way, and "Foopyman" for Superman, also from my brother.

jenniferApr 03, 2008 at 3:31PM

Jebus! You people mispronounce a lot of words.

tonyApr 03, 2008 at 3:49PM

I tend to do "jorb" instead of "job", based on some Homestar Runner cartoon.

as a kid, I couldn't say watermelon, so it is now known as watergelon.

And anything Ralph Wiggum-related ("SuperNintendo Chalmers", "learnding", "Prinskipple", "Choo-choo-choose")

David HornApr 03, 2008 at 3:51PM

Ah - saxamaphone, obviously, but also Tramapoline!

atanas entchevApr 03, 2008 at 3:59PM

Rush Limbaugh says ma-toor for mature. I don't think he is being self-deprecating.

MikeApr 03, 2008 at 4:20PM

My mother insists on saying Catholique.

None of us know why!

InglestopherApr 03, 2008 at 4:21PM

From my house and extended fambly in Merry Inkland:

bamba - grandpa
chips channel/chips on/off the... - change channel/turn on/off the...
kerbizhen - television
snoking about - messing about
kwet - get > can-we-get
kwuff - stuff
hampsterfruitly/hampshireglutenfree - absolutely
rahish - rubbish (bad, terrible)
ciabbata woofle - why
martin chuzzlewit - hurry up
breath off/grow a breath - get lost, eff off (that's another!)

and from spending too much time with my girlfriend...

nautical (mile) - naughty
cuticle - cute/cutey
beautstopher(son) - beauty

and any recombination of - icle and -stopher with any other 'real' words.

and a couple of orthographic ones:

happy bidet - happy birthday (from happy bday)
merry ecsma(s) - merry christmas (from merry xmas)
etc etc (et sec et sec)

Toodle pip 1 an all

LaurieApr 03, 2008 at 4:27PM

Ours are food-related: samich for sandwich, sketties for spaghetti, and turkey boogers for,
well, you just guess.

MartinApr 03, 2008 at 4:33PM

I am not a native speaker of German, but I know German well -- there is a somewhat common practice in German of saying "zum Bleistift" instead of "zum Beispiel." Translated literally, it is the equivalent of saying "for pencil" instead of "for example." It's just because it the two words are somewhat close in sound, no other reason.

TimApr 03, 2008 at 4:37PM

I say "turlet" for "toilet", like an old Brooklyn accent ala Ralph Kramden.

I also do the "sammich" thing.

tree hurleyApr 03, 2008 at 4:39PM

Fun! Fun! Thanks for such a fun post!

My hunny and I do many of the above, plus OW-ree for awry (a book store clerk told us the only book by Slavoj Zizek they had in stock at the moment was "Looking OW-ree" and it cracked us up), KROH-kay (with the optional mallet) for O.K., saw-SOO-wij for sausage (gotta get sewage in there), and I'm sure there are more I'm not thinking of. Plus, because of two of our nieces' mispronunciations, I'm Aunt Feces (FEEsuh was her original, and it quickly morphed) instead of Aunt Teresa and hunny is Uncle F**kit instead of Uncle Patrick (we didn't have to change that one!).

DonApr 03, 2008 at 4:42PM

Childrens' mispronounciations that have become standard idiom at our house include hanguhbers for hamburgers, and buhsketti for spaghetti. Unrelated, but part of family vocabulary, is the word 'ridiculous' which means buck naked.

KennedyApr 03, 2008 at 4:43PM

TEE-vee for TV
Le' Eff-toe-vares (French accent) for Leftovers
Mustardayonaise -- mustard and mayo combo (Mr. Show reference)

AvramApr 03, 2008 at 4:45PM

My girlfriend and I often use what a friend of ours has dubbed "Brooklyn spooner slang", where we swap around leading phonemes. It started with "Jen & Berry's", but we use it for other things too, like "hazelnut" so it sounds like "nasal-hut".

We also say "sammitch" instead of "sandwich", generally with an Eastern European accent.

BranniganApr 03, 2008 at 5:02PM

I always say bref-kast instead of breakfast

JessApr 03, 2008 at 5:02PM

I have to agree with someone above that this certifies you as a Dad with a capital D. Ollie will be rolling his eyes at you in just a few short years. Like I did every time my dad, on vacation at some national park or monument, paused a moment for us all to read the "hysterical markers."

JaredApr 03, 2008 at 5:12PM

I tend to purposefully mispronounce words in ways that helped me remember how to spell them in elementary school. The previously mentioned muskles and skissors fall under that category, as well as be-a-utiful. My wife and I have also picked up a few from our kids, that we sometimes use on accident when there are not even kids around. Usually we just tease each other a bit about how we're eventually going to have to learn to speak correctly if we are ever going to expect the kids to stop saying "bafftime."

brienneApr 03, 2008 at 5:18PM

junket= "hunket" from the movie "America's Sweethearts"
lesbians= "les-ba-nins" from Ross' son Ben on "Friends"
embarrassed= "bimbarrassed" from Ralph on "Simpsons", as in "I'm bimbarrassed for you!!!"

Triple B= where my husband and I like to shop for our linens... Bed, Bath, and Beyond

zpokApr 03, 2008 at 5:41PM

of kors it iz alzo done in ozzer languiz.

My daughter has made me adopt rice priskies and pjumpjoutor.

DeannaApr 03, 2008 at 5:44PM

Samwidge for sandwich; probbly for probably. When my sister was little, she used to like to 'make a restaurant' for the family, and would write up menus for breakfast, including all the cereals in the house. She had trouble with reversing letters visually, and the humour in it meant that I now always says Shrebbeb Wheat. (Weirdly, she also called cucumbers 'keemallows', but that only makes sense when we say it in front of the immediate family.)

DeannaApr 03, 2008 at 5:45PM

Oh yeah, and 'liberry' for library.

CarolynApr 03, 2008 at 5:45PM

My dad tries to improve the sounds of certain city names:

Carbondale becomes kar-BONN-de-lay
Urbandale becomes Uhr-BONN-de-lay


andyApr 03, 2008 at 5:47PM

My wife and I do this so often that we've almost got our own language.

"heap" for jeep (a not-so-subtle dig at quality, there...)
"zoochis" for sushi (from the nipponese zushi)
"matchdonalds" for McDonalds
"freetas" for fries (from so many languages)

There's also a large smattering of both spanish and german words added into our everyday language.

(This book is awesome, and anyone that loved this thread will love it.)

GregApr 03, 2008 at 5:48PM

I adopted Bugs Bunny's "maroon" for "moron". Otherwise, does inverting common adages count? Like "Dot all the t's and cross all the i's" or "measure once, cut twice".

Fred PhelpsApr 03, 2008 at 6:02PM


Andrea PApr 03, 2008 at 6:07PM

In italy the most common mispronunciation is to use open/close vowels instead of close/open vowels for a given word.

In some regions those mispronunciations could be clearly heard and sometimes people from other regions make jokes of it.

Obviously happens that some english words words are pronounced with the italian rules, especially it happens consciously (for joke) in the IT/TLC/... "habitat"

Andrea (aka Leppa)

SerialApr 03, 2008 at 6:14PM

Intentionally mixed metaphors happen to me a lot, too. I've gotten stuck saying, 'that throws a wrench in the ointment' for a while. Also, tahr-zhay isn't irritating because it's snobby or falsely self-deprecating, it's just played out, like 'internets.' Very funny at first, now a little grating.

KristinApr 03, 2008 at 6:23PM

One that I use a lot "The Mart de Wal" for Wal-Mart. I actually do that with a lot of words b/c I took 14 years of Spanish!

Cham-payg-nee (champagne) is a common one...I remember distinctly when I started to do this...after it was a spelling word in 4th grade. It helped me remember how to spell it. I think there are a few others like that, but I can't think of them now.

My favorite child misunderstanding was the day our 5-year-old went to kindergarten for the first time. He told us when he came home how nice the bus driver "Phlegm" was. We had to correct him...the man's name was Glen. :-)

anthonyApr 03, 2008 at 7:21PM

My family and I do many of those listed here. But also capiscapum for capsicum. It can warp the kids minds, though. Last night, we had yellow capiscapum with dinner. We normally have only red or green capiscapum. My 11 year old daughter, Rose, said something like "Wow! Yellow capsicum!" And I corrected her, saying "It's not capsicum. It's capiscapum." Rose got a puzzled look on her face. For a moment, she thought that because it was yellow, and therefore not what she was used to, it might actually be a different vegetable...
At the same time as it has the potential to warp, this "fun with language" approach can actually help kids learn more betterer. Oops. There's another one.

Scott FannenApr 03, 2008 at 7:34PM

Ling ger ee - something a girl (mostly) wears.
cu-nights - chivalrous men in armour, or to aggravate and confuse more, the thing following day.
And in honour of my Kiwi accent, check-in has been converted to chicken in my work place.

RyanApr 03, 2008 at 8:21PM

My girlfriend pronounces "orange" like "are-eeenge" but she doesn't think she says it weird. Ever since, an orange has been an are-eeenge in my head and it won't go away.

AnuApr 03, 2008 at 8:45PM

My family uses a number of these mispronunciations as little inside jokes -- PEEP-lay for people, SHAM-pug-nay for champagne etc.

Karen E.Apr 03, 2008 at 8:59PM

This is indeed most excellent! Please, don't take away my Tar-zhay. Might be overplayed, but it's here to stay.

My hunny grew up speaking French, and we adore using smatterings of real French, inane modified-French, and English-with-a-French-accent. Like the commenter above who enjoys aristocratic English, we speak to each other in an exaggerated formal voice, saying "Qu'est-ce que vous-vous-vous voulez manger, mon cheri?" Or we shout "j'aime!" when we like just about anything. (Not a mispronunciation, but usually gramatically incorrect.) Or "pass ze butt-air (butter), pliz."

We quote his brother a lot, who says things like, "what means 'dohr-kee' (dorky)?' The effete pronunciation contrasts with the content of the question, so it makes us keel over with laughter, and the words tend to stick. 'What kind of music do you like these days, Saïd, we'll ask? He'll say, "oh, I exclude no one." Done. It's quotable.

Your topic is is serious Dad domain, there can be no doubt. Our Dad was not a mispronouncer, but a maker-upper of words - same idea. Our handmade wooden kiddie cart? Called the super-duty-scooter-buggy. When I was seven and had no front teeth, I was The Snaggletooth Monster. "That's our Mugger-dugger-doo," when referring to Mom. On and on. Cheers.

DougApr 03, 2008 at 10:33PM

This is a bit of a different direction, but my friend Ted and I used to place the word "anal" in front of the names of cars. It's a multi-layered sort of thing. On the surface, it is stupid. Many people just stop right there: It's stupid. But if you start to do it, it opens up a whole new world, giving whole new meaning and insight to pretty much any car -- Expedition, Accord, Scirocco, Outback, etc. The reason I brought it up is that it also has a way of planting itself in the brain of anyone who ever hears about it, and it becomes impossible to think of a Dodge Dart in the same way ever again.

Richard F JonesApr 03, 2008 at 11:47PM

I do it in emails. Don't remememember ezxactly when I started, but it was probababably in the nineties (90's).

SaleemApr 04, 2008 at 12:28AM

At a highschool where I used to teach, female students would crack themselves up intentionally mispronouncing formal greetings, modifying a phrase for excusing yourself from work 'otsukare sama desu' to include the phrase 'kare raisu', (the Japanese-ified pronounciation of 'Curry Rice').

Also, they liked to add unnecessary 'y' sounds to words, 'Konbanwa' (goodnight) becomes 'Kyonbanwa', which they found cute and fun.

CSApr 04, 2008 at 1:06AM

My Call of Duty 4 playing son calls a bandollier a "ban-dole-ee-er" and uses "what" instead of "that" in any sentence what should have the word "that". My grandma has always called hamburgers, "hamburgs" and shops at "THE Walmarts". Of course a Quesadilla is now "Kaysa-DILL-ah" ala Napoleon Dynamite. My friends daughter Taylor is always , "Tay-LOR" to me, ala. Planet of the Apes. And I have always pronounced psuedo, "suede-o".

JimApr 04, 2008 at 1:27AM

chamomile = "shuh-mom'-uh-lee"
prenatals (vitamins) = "preh'-nuh-talls"

NatalieApr 04, 2008 at 1:36AM

When I was young, I could never get my tongue around 'necessarily' - so instead I pronounced it 'nece-celery', because I could do so that way. Now, years later, I sometimes find myself saying it the way I had gotten to be used to - to my own embarrassment.

Jerry KindallApr 04, 2008 at 2:02AM


The ISO should have settled on this instead of "mebibytes."

After 38 years, I am still trying to figure out why my dad thinks there's a "w" in "breakfast."

Jerry KindallApr 04, 2008 at 2:05AM

Oh yeah, I forgot my own --

The "NuTone" brand stove hood? Pronounced "NutOne."

I also tend to pronounce the British spellings "colour" and "favour" to rhyme with "velour," and of course "cheque" is "check-wee." Similarly, "queue" is "quee-wee." Hey, I'm just saying them the way they're spelled.

Dave BathApr 04, 2008 at 2:15AM

"Dainbramage[d]" (sometimes "dain bramage[d]") is a term common to engineers (especially software). Part of the joke is that is self-referential: dainbramage is a dainbramaged way of spelling/saying braindamage.

It usually refers to incompetence or poor design (e.g. "X is dainbramaged because it Y's the Z") rather than referring to actual injury of a person.

casperApr 04, 2008 at 3:02AM

In the Netherlans systematik mispernounciations are part of Opperlans (Dutch language on holday)

Frank TopApr 04, 2008 at 3:35AM

Here in Flanders (Dutch speaking Belgium), we use words like:
heps for hesp (ham)
psaghetti for spaghetti
milonade for limonade (lemonade)
morantisch or even normandisch for romantisch (romantic)
tinternet for internet (comes from an abbreviated form of 'het internet', the internet)
Dardennen for Ardennen (Ardennes, same logic as above)

Even a strange form of English here at the office:
properteiten for properties (properteiten does not really exist, but would mean something like 'the fact of being clean' if it did exist)

Meg JohnsonApr 04, 2008 at 3:49AM

The Cute Overload website is written with a "cutecabulary" (got the term from the Wiki) that includes generous Frenchification, onomatopoeia usage, baby talk and intentional mispronunciations. I love love love to read the captions and find myself imitating the dialect in extremely cute situations. I better to say what you do to a puppy's soft soft ears then to "kronsche" them?

See glossary:

MiraApr 04, 2008 at 5:48AM

I've heard people say, jokingly, "brabec" for "vrabec" (sparrow) and "brablenec" for "mravenec" (ant) in Czech. I know I've heard more, but these are the only ones I can think of right now. Written Czech is very regular, there aren't the spelling-pronunciation jokes you get in English, but it definitely happens.

MartinApr 04, 2008 at 7:41AM

Another good German one is to say "Ausnungsweise" for "Ausnahmsweise." The latter means "As an exception/Just this once" whereas the former is sheer gibberish. I'm in Austria right now, so I'm asking around....

MegApr 04, 2008 at 7:47AM

Syllable = sih-LAH-ble
Emphasis = em-PHA-sis
(So you need to pu the emPHAsis on the second-to-last syLLAble, like in Spanish)

Some place names over here in the UK cry out for mispronunciation. So in our househole (sorry, household) we have:

High Wycombe (pron: High Why-Kom-Bee)
Loughborough (pron: Looger-Borooger)
Edinburgh (pron: Edimboogie)
Glasgow (pron: glass-cow, like Americans would say (it's actually supposed to be glahz-go, or if you're a native, glahz-ghi)

...and there's a set of London specific ones which are used by a lot of people I know:
West Kensington = Wet Ken
West Hampstead = Wet Hamster
Clapham = Cla'am (like ma'am, when meeting the queen)
Battersea = Bah-TER-ZEE-ah
Stockwell = St. Ockwell

(these last three emerged as a riposte to estate agents trying to gentrify certain down-at-heel areas)

BrandonApr 04, 2008 at 7:58AM

You haven't mentioned one that I find very common in rural areas: substituting "crick" for "creek". Everyone knows how to spell the word, but no one says it right. Unlike most of these, which are amusing to me (I use internets, interweb, interwebs, etc. all the time), this one bugs me, especially when Dad does it.

MegApr 04, 2008 at 8:56AM

Oh, I forgot one other which is growing in usage:

Merka (for America) and Merkin (for American)

No slight intended, obviously. Based on W mumbling.

BrianApr 04, 2008 at 10:55AM

I use Pogo pronunciations a lot.

I also say "pronunstication" for "proununciation" a lot.

And, really, too many others to mention, most of them because of things my kids said.

samApr 04, 2008 at 12:06PM

for those who call target "tar-zhay," i have also heard home depot as "homme du-pah"

Sorethumb44Apr 04, 2008 at 12:13PM

Having been "raised" in the South, we have lots of colorful words and expressions. If you eat too many sammiches for lunch and get sick, call the amalance to take you to the horsepital. If someone askes what it going on, tell 'em it ain't none of there bidnezz. If they won't shut up, just tell 'em you ain't studden at no more. I fell more better now, thanks.

P.S. In the earlier days of the internet my mom lived in an older apartment complex where mostly older folks lived. The guy above her had a computer and and old dialup modem. My mom could hear the sound of the modem and she said her neighbor had "AN internet".

MjohnsonApr 04, 2008 at 12:21PM

I do loads - mainly with groups of friends in an in joke way. It's kind of tribal, that's just how language works.

The current favourite is putting the iss from hiss (with a bit of a hissing sound) in issue.

benApr 04, 2008 at 12:25PM

A few years ago it was really popular here in Belgium but also in France to pronounce the letter i in the words as I in English. Even a famous singer made a remix of one of her song changing the pronounciation.

Sinon, one that I do sometimes mostly because it makes people laugh is to say naso-vaginal wrinkle instead of nasogenian wrinkle.

Evan RoseApr 04, 2008 at 12:40PM

My mother says libary, pronounced lie-berry. She's also the president of her library association or whatever it is and every now and again, gets corrected, which she thinks is hysterical. She lives in Texas and really loves to ham up her accent, eye-talian for Italian, etc. To this day, she also loves to use words that I messed up when I was a child. I'm 30 now.

Matt VApr 04, 2008 at 2:26PM

I find myself doing different (bad) fake accents and deliberate mispronunciations depending on which of my family and friends I am around, but I do it all the time in casual situations. I especially like mimicking lower-class dialects, just for fun, not out of superiority. (I love me some KitKats. You been down to the Wal-Mart three times this week. I done did it already.)

As for the mispronOUNCE-iations, my favorite is my sister's invention:

Shiny's for Chinese; "Wanna get some Shiny's?"

A. BrightonApr 04, 2008 at 2:37PM

One of my biggest linquistic pet peeves is people who pronounce homage "Oh-MAHzh" and don't seem to know they're mispronouncing it. That and (American) people who generally shift short A sounds (like in hat and bat) to more pretentious-sounding AHs (like in box and top), often in words of foreign origin like AHfghAHnistAHn and tAHlibAHn. Many of the reporters on NPR do this whenever they can get away with it. Luckily, AH-frica still sounds too stupid even for them.

shope.Apr 04, 2008 at 5:39PM

I read a lot as a kid, and so would pronounce words in my head that I had never heard. Then when I said them I got laughed at - like "faykayed" for facade and "shaffyur" for cheauffeur (still can't spell it).

On a related note, when my mom and I are shopping and can't find a price tag on an item, we always say it's price-less.

slumberApr 04, 2008 at 6:34PM

This thread is awesome.

Here's two more: my wife deliberately (but not ironically) omits the first 't' in 'statistics. Sa-tististics.

I still imitate my cousin, 15 yrs later, who would, as a 3 yr old, replace God with Dod as in "Oh my DOD!".

sloracApr 04, 2008 at 8:03PM

I love to bug my son with my mispronunciations:

ho-rah-hey for garage
shouldamapads for shoulder pads
sell-oh phone for cell phone
vi-oh-lah for viola (wah-lah)
sammich for sandwich
Yeep for Jeep, yob for job
rutt-roh for uh-oh (like "rutt-roh, Rastro" from the Jetsons)

Eric BApr 04, 2008 at 8:22PM

From the movie Christmas Story:

Fra-geel-ly = Fragile

Anytime my girlfriend and I are walking through Tar-zhay and see "fragile" printed on a box, we'll say "Oh, it's French!"

MarilynApr 04, 2008 at 8:29PM

Thanks to a friend of mine I've recently picked up quite a few more of these than I already used:

Hairport for airport
Home Despot
Barnes and Ignoble
Traitor Joe's

Hamburgler (for hamburger)
Noogles for noodles
seconding the snaggle-tooth monster (my dad used to say that too!)
akashally (for actually)
Adding a "ma" syllable to the middle of any word

This thread is great! Thanks!

Irwin ChenApr 05, 2008 at 11:26AM

What about deliberate, insidious character smearing mis-pronounciations by former A.G. Ashcroft recently:

"All I'm saying about the Patriot Act," Ashcroft began, "is that the elected representatives of this country, including Osama ..."

His words were met with a roar of disbelief and disapproval, as he continued stammering, "uh ... you know ... not ... Obama."[VIDEO.DE]_0404.html

TerriApr 05, 2008 at 12:26PM

Flutterby for butterfly, seems more descriptive

gypsy janeApr 05, 2008 at 5:21PM

And no one's posted infernal revenue yet??

Being from New Jersey, I had to grow up and move before I knew wash wasn't spelled warsh, and it's hard to wash that r out.

I think some folks are reading way too much into WHY we do this - like trying to make Target/Tar-jay sound more classy - no, it's just fun. You say tomatoes, I say tomahtoes, that kind of thing. We come up with it, or we hear it and repeat it... probably how language evolved in the first place and dialects happen.

Gypsy JaneApr 05, 2008 at 9:54PM

oops, I meant "pronounced" warsh, not spelled warsh. I how to wash even if we did say it funny. NTS: proofread b4 clicking post.

Gypsy JaneApr 05, 2008 at 9:56PM

And my daughter dubbed guacamole "black-and-mouldy".

Nathan HarrisonApr 05, 2008 at 10:10PM

I've got a bad case of transposing letters while I'm talking -- what I jokingly call speech dyslexia. The only ones that've stuck, though, are darkbust (barkdust), and Orpeon (from a misstype of Oregon). I do plenty others, but it's so instinctual by now I can't recall any examples, except the really weird ones.

My mom once called a quesadilla a keh-sawl-duh, and of course we've all picked it up so she can never forget it.

And I've acquired a bunch from Futurama & other shows like Invader Zim, like many commenters (sham-paggin, coin-o-soor, ehn-core, sammich, etc.), but my favorite is a Zoidberg-esque "ROBUT!"

Zach Galifianakis and a few other comedians tend to do this a lot in their stand-up acts, too.

Nathan HarrisonApr 05, 2008 at 10:14PM

Oh, and another favorite -- I love thinking up new ways to mangle my friend's last name, DeBenedetti, the most common probably being "DeBene-debe-dedetti" and DeBene-nebeduh-debbi".

Nathan HarrisonApr 05, 2008 at 10:36PM

How about another!

When my sister was little, her cursive lowercase r's looked the same as her lowercase n's, which I why I will always cherish the Berenstein Bears books as being actually about the Benenstain Beans.

BillApr 05, 2008 at 10:48PM

When listing things, lots of people (me included) say "one," and then "B," or "A," and then "2."I think it's about inserting comedy into everyday life.

Our favorite is the classic nonsense statement, "I don't think so, but I doubt it."

John NackApr 06, 2008 at 2:37AM

My wife and I love to make things info faux-Italian (er, make that I-talian), including face (FAH-chay) and balcony (balCONE).

My mother-in-law for some reason pronounces trash "traysh," so we enjoy similarly rotating the vowels in other words (crap->"craype," smash->"smayshe"). And yes, of course this stuff ends up inadvertently sticking!

Aaron GalbraithApr 06, 2008 at 11:46PM

Though I consider myself to have a pretty solid knowledge of English vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation, I'll admit that, well into my adult life, I only knew "awry" and "macabre" from having read them, and (at least mentally) pronounced them "aw-ree" and "mack-uh-ber" - I believe at least the latter was influenced by Bugs Bunny.

However, Bugs didn't fool me with "maroon" (moron), nor did Daffy with "hom-ber" (hombre).

Lately I've struggled to develop a comedic persona like Homer Simpson, where I correct people's pronunciation incorrectly - most people just assume I'm a genuine ass.

Re: making a list switching between numbers and letters, my friend Dan nicely spun this tired old joke by listing "A", "two" and "green".

My college roommate had a very effective way of always stressing wrong syllables, calling me ay-RONE instead of "Aaron". He also used to clarify some of his jokes by explaining that he was "being a seafish" (think about it).

Aaron GalbraithApr 07, 2008 at 12:11AM

My Japanese girlfriend and I entertain each other endlessly with honest mistakes. My mistakes are mostly nonsense mispronunciations, since my Japanese is much worse than her English. Here are a few of her errors:

"I can't believe it broke. This is a brand new spanking bra."
"Watching these cartoons is like trippin' down memory lane."
"Does she have diabete?"

I once nicknamed a guy whose last name is "Krezowik" "Krezzlefish", which caught on immediately.

dickdotcomApr 07, 2008 at 10:46AM

I can reliably tell what sort of mood my wife's in by her level of mangling of the English language ... in a normal, everyday, mood plural nouns acquire a random ie, especially if the nouns are in anyway cute, i.e birdies instead of birds. Nouns also acquire a y to turn them into adjectives - i.e 'this road is really trafficy'.

If she's in a really good mood we get the 'Mc' construction where a word is repeated with the prefix Mcschmz and missing the first consonant as in 'I'm busy Mcschmizzy'

When she speaks normal English, I take cover ...

I can tell what sort of mood I'm in, if this annoys me I'm in a bad mood, if I find it endearing I'm in a good mood ...

harloApr 07, 2008 at 10:58AM

And to drink, Peru.

thank you, Better off Dead for this Perrier malapropism.

condourApr 07, 2008 at 12:26PM

I like to give words an irregular past tense. So I wook the dogs earlier today or I boke to work on my schwinn. Also, i like to deemphasize the last syllable of words where it's commonly pronounced, like SPIDERman (an old Jon Stewart routine he does this one) or ROBut or SATURdee. Endless fun.

Amy K.Apr 07, 2008 at 5:24PM

I say "sammich" instead of sandwich. Just because.

ZachApr 07, 2008 at 5:27PM

I remember being taught the word "hyper-bowl" in 6th grade English class. We still use it from time to time to make fun of that.

One I'm trying to work into use. If "hung" is the past-tense of "hang"... can we use "bung" for the past tense of "bang"?

Louis SimoneauApr 07, 2008 at 5:39PM

I've actually started using "blag" pretty frequently, though I haven't managed to integrate "wobsite" into a sentence yet...

AaronApr 07, 2008 at 5:43PM

After going to university in Montreal, I've started pronouncing iPod the French way: "ee-po:d".

It also makes you sound extra pretentious.

Oh! And since my friends and I are all grad students in Middle East studies, we have this habit of taking English words and Arabizing them. So "shower" becomes "shawawer" (broken plural), "jacket" becomes "jawacket" (same thing, and funny, too! Ha!), saying things like "ana confused-an" (hal-mansuub).

This, I imagine, is funny for perhaps two of you.

James S. A. Brown, IIIApr 07, 2008 at 5:45PM

Wow, so many of these examples pass my lips on a regular basis! Here's another one:

I do most of the laundry in our house and I've taken to referring to underwear as "under-da-wears." It was merely a bit of linguistic levity on my part, but my wife has begun to use the word as well. Everytime she uses it, I hear a bit of "I love you" under the surface.

I've noticed these linguistic oddities travel both ways in our relationship and seem to serve a real purpose. Fascinating how such things act as a built-in linguistic side-band for communicating intimacy and tending emotional bonds.


ArielApr 07, 2008 at 5:47PM

My family says h'dourves "horseduvers"
massage "maw-saw-gay"
and champagne "champ ag any"
We regularly mispronounce things for the fun of it!

getthebubblesApr 07, 2008 at 5:52PM

guilty as charged. Some of the things my family and I say:

magic-an = magician
choreo-graphy = choreography
gaz-e-boo = gazebo
whole 'nother (or, for more emFASis, whole fuckin' 'nother)
werter = water
whores de ovaries = hors d'oeuvre
tit-les = titles

Born and raised in Alabama, so I have an excuse, right?

NeilApr 07, 2008 at 6:05PM

Did anyone else ever do Ecnalubma (ambulance backward) because it was printed that way on the front of the ambulance so you could read it in your rearview mirror.

en_dashApr 07, 2008 at 6:13PM

Rendezvous = Ren-dezz-viss

BenApr 07, 2008 at 6:30PM

Oh, man. This is pretty much the best thread I've ever seen. I think these might be the reason I'm currently a linguistics major.

I used to say yo-gwert, for yogurt, when I was but a babe.

Nowadays, I insert Rs after vowels (an over-the-top Coach Z), or just try out all the different possible vowel sounds. You can find me mumbling these any given day when I'm walking to class. Not many of them stick, and very few of them are spoken around other people, unless I know that person very, very well.

Brian PuccioApr 07, 2008 at 6:41PM

I say anti-thesis instead of antithesis to my girlfriend. I started it when we first met and it took her over half a year to say something.

JeffApr 07, 2008 at 6:50PM

"Intermesting" for interesting. I picked it up from a kid I knew in middle school. Stuck to me ever since. Don't really know where it came from but I'm thinking it might've been from the Simpsons.

Idaho MattApr 07, 2008 at 6:57PM

In honor of the dwindling GWB reign (and the freedom fries kerfluffle from eons past), I often pronounce French wines using all the letters (such as Ka-bur-nett Saw-vig-non for Cabernet Sauvignon). And Gamay Boujalais (no, I don't remember the real spelling) has come out 'Gamey Bojallis'.

nathanApr 07, 2008 at 6:59PM

Being from California, I like to say Sacramendy instead of Sacramento. The Sacramendy River, etc.

samApr 07, 2008 at 7:00PM

my friend insists on pronouncing reese's (as in peanut butter cups) ree-sees, to which i say, "no, because it rhymes with pieces, it's reese's pieces, not ree-see's pee-sees."

JacobApr 07, 2008 at 7:09PM

Oh yeah; and "gore-met" for gourmet.

jezApr 07, 2008 at 7:24PM

my girlfriend coined "gigamega" for gigabyte and, therefore, "megagiga" for megabyte.


"sammich" for sandwich

"kawfee" for coffee...

and heaps more that i'll remember as soon as i hit post...

TimApr 07, 2008 at 8:06PM

Two common ones in our house, both from when my son was around two years old...

Poppylop for Lollipop

Shu-fiffer for screwdriver

A friend of mine insists on:
P-Hamas in some sort of twisted spanish influenced pronunciation of pajamas.

KelseyApr 07, 2008 at 8:29PM

As a kid, I said girled cheese, which amused my parents to no end. They'd often ask why I didn't prefer a boyed cheese.

Everyone's done such a good job of sharing I can't think of anything missed except all the ways you can muddle your "sh-" sounds. Y'know, like let's go chopping for choos! Or how about the way Kim Jong-Il mixed up his Rs and Ls in Team America? I'm so ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone... That's been fun to adopt.

Jerome HainesApr 07, 2008 at 8:59PM

I like to say
Bizcut for biscuit.
Bag-gul for bagel.
Terlit for toilet.
Crayckers for crackers (after a kind of long bout of Coach Z from
Inpropriate for inappropriate.

God, this list could go on and on.... I'm calling Erin McKean!

TomApr 07, 2008 at 9:46PM

My 3yo son says "bee-old eggs" for boiled eggs, transposing the o and the i. I love it and will never call them boiled eggs again.

MattApr 07, 2008 at 9:48PM

My cousin pronounces sunscreen as 'skunscreen' and I have repeated that on more than one occasion...

TomApr 07, 2008 at 9:54PM

The New Zealand town Petone (pronounced "puh-tow-knee" - itself a derivation of the Maori "Pito-one") is affectionately known by many New Zealanders as Pet One.

BenApr 07, 2008 at 10:22PM

All this talk of 'sammiches' reminded me of this classic Achewood strip:

ChrisApr 07, 2008 at 10:30PM

Thanks to my Dad, I pronounce "Beverages" as "Beaver Eggs"....funny when I was young, now I wonder why I still do it.

MarcelApr 07, 2008 at 11:23PM

When I was a kid I though Wataburger was called Water Booger.

EightApr 07, 2008 at 11:25PM

I love to mispronounce words for emphasis, but I am Black and non-Black people tend not to get the joke.They corrected me with such a sorrowful look that I gave up and I only do it around my Black friends or really good "other" friends lol. Additionally, my Black friends and I are very fond of slipping into Ebonic pronunciations from time to time (well the best Ebonics a group of middle class Blacks chicks can do lol.)

Words like skarte (scared), scrimps (shrimp), skreet (street) etc.....

Michael GApr 08, 2008 at 12:42AM

Merry Crimmace!
POH-leese (Mostly as a Meldrick Lewis tribute)
CAH-sco (For your warehouse store needs)
Rohbut (All the time. It's amazing how often robots come up, actually)
Internets (Actually, this stopped being on purpose and is almost involuntary)

And my favorite anachroistic phrase is "short pants" instead of "shorts".

Megan64Apr 08, 2008 at 2:26AM

I like to pronounce lingerie, ling-ger-ee. I guess it's less threatening that way.

BryanApr 08, 2008 at 2:45AM

My daughter says "made of american" when she means "native american," so we like to say that too.

ColinApr 08, 2008 at 7:08AM

"Haligon" when talking about my hometown Halifax, NS (because the residents are "Haligonians"). Or "Hafilax" (in which case, the residents are referred to as "Hafilactics").
Horse Dovers are served at my parties.
Turnips are always referred to as 'termits' in my family because that was the way my uncle's brother-in-law pronounced it in the 50s, and that was the phrase he adopted. Likewise, my grandfather's neighbour in the 40s was wont to repeat any verbose phrase he heard on the radio without really knowing what it meant. "It fell for the want of neglect" (we think he meant "wanton") has been a favourite mournful non-sequiter ever since.
Has anyone else noticed that when many families do this, they are often backhandedly invoking the memory of a long-gone relative or friend?

craigApr 08, 2008 at 9:19AM

My daughter used to think that the local convenience store UDF was "beauty-f"

Brett JordanApr 08, 2008 at 9:29AM

Purkle and odinge (replacing purple and orange) always makes me smile... along with skellington and chimley

Gossamer WumpApr 08, 2008 at 9:32AM

Nobody has mentioned that picturesque obviously is pronounced picture-skew.

Vertabim also is nice.

CatherineApr 08, 2008 at 9:32AM

Learning Dutch alongside a bunch of Canadians threw up some great mispronunciations in Dutch which eventually got bastardised into English and used a LOT.

For example:

alstublieft (please) => olstubrief => ostrich briefs

plukken de dag (to "pluck the day", literally, or pull a sickie) => f-ing the dog => anyone pulling a sickie became known as a "dogf-er".

Yeah, charming.

mikeApr 08, 2008 at 9:51AM

i say edumacated, especially when sarcastically noting someone's fine grammar. i also say libary, excape and foilage a lot -- blame the simpsons for this.

ChrisApr 08, 2008 at 9:54AM

From our children as well......

BUCKABYES. (for Buckeyes)
BYTABINES (for Vitamins)

mikeApr 08, 2008 at 9:55AM

oh! i will also sometimes call blueberries "Blew-Its". this is a mispronunciation of the french "bleuets"; which is also on our canadian labels.

johnApr 08, 2008 at 10:09AM

one of my friends in high school couldn't say algebra correctly, and instead said 'albegra'. so that's what everyone i remember from high school also said.

WoodworkApr 08, 2008 at 10:35AM

Living in Buenos Aires, I am only now becoming accustomed to their 'Lunfardo', which includes a lot of changing the order of two-syllable words. Examples: Tango becomes Gotan, Cafe con Leche becomes Feca con Chele, Mesa becomes Same and so on. It is very confusing at times!

Matthew TrederApr 08, 2008 at 12:37PM

Sherri, niche (in English) rhymes with "ditch" and "snitch," and has for centuries. You can check any dictionary for confirmation of this. Only recently did the "neesh" pronunciation come about. It is gaining acceptance by many dictionaries as an acceptable secondary pronunciation, but hasn't yet overtaken "nitch."

Sheesh : )

MWApr 08, 2008 at 1:17PM

Great post...

When my daughter was 3, we had a bunch of these... most memorably were "ephelant" instead of "elephant", and "babing suit" instead of "bathing suit". My wife and I still use those.
From the pet-peeve department is when people say "intensive purposes" instead of "intents and purposes".
When I was a kid my dad would always spell out the syllables in Wednesday as "wed-nes-day".
Pop culture has french-ified the store Target into "Tar-jay".

MWApr 08, 2008 at 1:18PM

Great post...

When my daughter was 3, we had a bunch of these... most memorably were "ephelant" instead of "elephant", and "babing suit" instead of "bathing suit". My wife and I still use those.
From the pet-peeve department is when people say "intensive purposes" instead of "intents and purposes".
When I was a kid my dad would always spell out the syllables in Wednesday as "wed-nes-day".
Pop culture has french-ified the store Target into "Tar-jay".

cmlloydApr 08, 2008 at 1:30PM

"Aaaahh ree-ree!" in a faux Japanese accent when I find anything mildly fascinating...

Cracks the missus up every time.

LynnApr 08, 2008 at 1:39PM

My husband gets miffed at me for "mispronouncing" February by pronouncing it correctly as Feb-ru-ary instead of the more common (and more irritating to me) Feb-u-ary.

cloudboyApr 08, 2008 at 2:01PM

My wife's native language is Vietnamese, but she speaks fluent English. For some reason, instead of saying she was "P-O'd" (as in pissed-off), she says that she was "P-U'd" (as in pee-yew!). I think at first it was a mistake, but it stuck and that is now forever how she says it.

andieApr 08, 2008 at 2:55PM

My dad and I would mess with drug names:
inslin (he's diabetic)
asstamestafinafin (acetaminophen or Tylenol),
ibuffin (ibuprofen or Motrin),
Lipitor is a dinosaur, when we see the commercial, we growl the name at each other.

I drive my husband up the wall with an exaggerated Texas accent (I'm from Ohio), I talk to aminals and small children in lolcats, occifer will someday get me arrested, bumbershoot/umbrella (thanks gram)

PJApr 08, 2008 at 4:07PM

Whenever someone makes a good point I like to bring up an imaginary gentleman who goes by the name of Ed Zachary (exactly). My wife wondered who this Ed character was for quite a while.

ChrisApr 08, 2008 at 4:13PM

Burro for bureau, it has driven at least two girlfriends nuts.

cmlloydApr 08, 2008 at 5:23PM

"Aaaahh ree-ree!" in a faux Japanese accent when I find anything mildly fascinating...

Cracks the missus up every time.

TomApr 08, 2008 at 8:25PM

I use "rotary hoe" for "righty-ho". Recently this has mutated to "Rotere Hotere" (Maori pron. in-joke.)

Grant HutchinsApr 09, 2008 at 2:16AM

Im-pasta-bowl for impossible. I don't know where I got it and I've only just started doing it at age 25.

GenApr 09, 2008 at 2:46AM

We have a few I haven't seen listed yet:

"grommet" for gourmet
"New Age" rhymes with sewage
"yummy cakes of pan" for pancakes, based on a friend's "yummy nuts of dough" for doughnuts

TomApr 09, 2008 at 9:50AM

Still haven't seen:

Par cark (when I say this Spoonerism I'm never quite sure that I've actually said it wrong - try it)

Jiggerbytes (from Doc in Back to the Future with One Point Twenny One Jiggerwatts!)

We do this loads in my office: Project Mangler / Project ManaNger is always good for a chuckle, and I particularly like Strategery.

A perennial element of our strategery is to "make the pie higher" (a sweet sweet Bushism.)

TomApr 09, 2008 at 9:51AM

Still haven't seen:

Par cark (when I say this Spoonerism I'm never quite sure that I've actually said it wrong - try it)

Jiggerbytes (from Doc in Back to the Future with One Point Twenny One Jiggerwatts!)

We do this loads in my office: Project Mangler / Project ManaNger is always good for a chuckle, and I particularly like Strategery.

A perennial element of our strategery is to "make the pie higher" (a sweet sweet Bushism.)

DarrenApr 09, 2008 at 3:18PM

My three year old son says umblerra for umbrella, and chimbley for chimney.

Love it.

ratgrrrlApr 09, 2008 at 11:17PM

we definitely subscribe to many of ones listed above (saxamaphone, fra-gee-lay, wed-nez-day, computron/com-poo-tor, the internets/tubes), but also:

yome-site for yosemite (based on typo in vacation planning email thread)
FRAUNCH fries, FRAUNCH dressing, etc (from Better Off Dead)
rawn-dez-vouse for rendezvous
snausage for sausage

additionally, my husband says escuchen to ask someone to scoot over.

John DalbecApr 09, 2008 at 11:40PM

If you don't like tar-zhay because you prefer Wal-Mart over Target, you could pronounce Wal-Mart as val-maa. It's all French phonics.

Mark Van CleveApr 10, 2008 at 12:57AM

This is how I used to remember how to spell tough words. OK, it's how I still do. Wed-nez-day is an example.

SimplerDaveApr 10, 2008 at 6:36AM

Just a few, some deliberate, some picked up as a boy, some from the grand-daughter (I'll leave you to ponder which are which):

bsgetti, interweb, fablious, prezackerly (conflation of precisely/exactly), Wednesbury, Thursbry, blippy thing (barcode reader), beastie box (TV remote), the Be-at-les, the Strolling Bones, popular beat combo (pop group), sammidge (sandwich), collopse, follollop (flop as in down), and storbies (strawberries)

general adding of the suffixes -age and -ness (a hangover from schoolboy history 'Tonnage and Poundage', with -ness added when -age won't fit)

one phrase, stolen from Clouseau, but not done with the accent:

that'll be the phone

and deliberate confusion of unrelated things with similar names like Bluetooth (mobile phone tech) and bluetongue (cattle disease much in news over here)

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.