I read far more than I converse, and so I may see a word in print years before I hear it spoken. More to the point: I may end up saying it before I hear it pronounced correctly. This means if my first guess at the proper pronunciation is wrong I will read it many, many times and that improper pronunciation will be deeply ingrained before I realize my error. The risk here is that if I drop my incorrect usage into conversation I risk making a fool of myself.
This happens alarmingly often.
I saw the word “meme” years ago and have typed it and read it many times since then, always pronouncing it “mem” in my head. Yesterday I saw a Wiki on memes and found out it’s pronounced “meem”. Now I wonder: How many times did I use this word incorrectly in conversation and the other person was too polite to let me know I’m an idiot?
I spent most of the early 90’s thinking “cache” was pronounced “catch”. As in, “This system has 8kb of catch memory, that’s huge!” If I had guessed that I was saying it wrong, my next guess would have been “cashay”, to rhyme with “sashay”. Saying “cash” was not obvious to me at all.
Same goes for “Chasam”. I once earned a bit of riddicule when someone caught me pronouncing it the way it looks, instead of saying “kasam”.
Some people don’t have this problem, and I don’t know how they avoid it. Are they better at intuiting words? Do they run to the dictionary every tme they see a new word?
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