I've always thought of myself as somewhat articulate. I can form a complete sentence and write a coherent paragraph.
But over the past year, it has been brought to my attention that there are at least two English words I have been pronouncing incorrectly my entire life. I was stunned to learn this.
The first is "warriors." Say that word to yourself: "warriors." How do you pronounce it? Probably correctly: "WAR-ee-ers." Not me. I've always said "WER-ee-ers." Not only did I have no idea I said it this way, I didn't even realize it was wrong.
My wife was the one who pointed it out. I don't remember why the word came up in conversation, but she looked at me funny and said, "Worriers? Did you just say 'worriers?'"
"No, of course not," I replied. "I said 'warriors.'" (only I pronounced it "worriers")
"Exactly! You said 'worriers.' It's 'WAR-riors.'"
And then I said the word to myself several times over. I quickly realized I had been mangling it for years. Then I tried to say it aloud. Only I couldn't. Seriously, I couldn't. It took several tries and a concerted effort before I could say it right: WAR-riors.
This happened about a year ago. And to this day I'm still self-conscious when I say that word. I have to say it slowly: WAR-ee-ers. Not that it's a word I use often, but when it comes up, I'm stumped.
The other word I've been mispronouncing, apparently, is "crayons." How do you say it? I've always said, "CRAY-ons." Just like it's spelled. But my wife and son informed me the other night that most Americans say it differently. I don't really know how to render it phonetically for you, but apparently the common pronounciation is "CRAY-ens," with the "ens" part said very subtly and almost softly.
I guess you're not supposed to say it like it's spelled. The word ends in "ons," so I say "CRAY-ons," with a distinct short "o" sound on the last syllable. Terry tells me I've been saying it wrong for years but she just has never called me on it.
Again, this is stunning to me. I'm a father of five kids, so believe me, crayons have been an almost daily part of our family lexicon for years. And I've been saying the word wrong.
It makes me wonder what ELSE I've been pronouncing incorrectly. Do I not speak true American English? Where did I pick up this speech impediment?
The whole thing is very disconcerting (dis-con-SERT-ing...I think), to say the least.