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How to pronounce it

Posted by John McIntyre at 2:00 PM | | Comments (38)


Brilliant, especially the last bit! :-)

You da man, Prof. McIntyre. No, really, I mean that.

Forwarding to my Kentucky friends. Thanks for the smile.

You for got: ASK. Remarkably, there is no X in spelling or pronouncing ASK.

Honor demands that I give credit for the Louisville bit to Bob Hust, a former colleague at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Robert (the Single One), Cassidy would disagree with you. See, "I'm a hustla" for proof.


I'm a pretty loyal reader, but forgive me for not remembering if this topic has been covered (I know you cover similar topics often).

What is your opinion on starting sentences with conjunctions? I know it used to be a major foul, but I have always believed and practiced that, in moderation, it can be effective to my style.

Just for context, I'm having a bit of a debate with fellow writers/editors on a fan/freelance sports site. They consistently edit every last "but" and "and" out of my work, which bothers me to no end. Sometimes, especially when discussing numbers and statistics, I'd rather use "And" than start every sentence with "In addition" or "As well as..."

There is no rule against starting sentences with conjunctions. It is not ungrammatical to do so. It is somewhat informal or conversational, though, which is why it's an uncommon practice in much formal or academic writing. But in the conversational tone prized in journalism, it is not only permissible but encouraged.

Mr Corey, please give me more information. I don't know who you mean by Cassidy and have no idea what is "I'm a hustla".

Hah.Great work. I personally like the nuCLEAR clarification. My high school chem teacher pronounced it wrong! It drove me nuts.

For the written word on many of these misspoken words, and for many other examples, check out Charles Harrington Elster's "There is No Zoo in Zoology" (1988) and "Is There a Cow in Moscow?" (1990).

How about "dollar", or as most "Bawdymorons" say it: "Dawer".

McIntyre-Catalini: the Coen brothers of etiquette videos.
John, the Louisville bit reminded me of a friend for whom I could never satisfactorily pronounce Louisville. He'd say Loovul. I'd say Loovul. He'd say "no, no, Luvel." I'd repeat perfectly. He'd say "no, no looovil." And so on. I couldn't win. So I made up my own rules: When reading, pronounce it Lewisville. When speaking, it's Louie-ville.


Perhaps you should visit They're trying to get an audio recording of all words/names/places. It's user-submitted, and it's interesting to see how pronunciations vary based on the submitter's region.

As a former Louisvillian, I must say that the wad of paper technique is the best way I've ever seen for helping non-Louisvillians get the pronunciation of Louisville right. Good job, John!

Jl's suggestions are both wrong, in different degrees. "Lewisville" is never correct for the city in Kentucky, but apparently *is* correct for the town in Georgia. "Louieville" is the most common pronunciation used by non-Louisvillians, but is not much heard from the mouths of locals.

Among Louisvillians, the more upscale pronunciation is "Loo-uh-vull." Nothing too startling there.

The real fun begins when you come to the dialect of the average Louisvillian. The unwashed masses say "Lawvull," with that first vowel a bit lengthened, while being sounded much farther back in the throat than I've transcribed it. The effect is that you're producing a semi-gargled syllable-and-a-half.

If there's another word in any English dialect that uses that exact vowel, I haven't encountered it to date!

As for the rest of the video, it hits most of the big ones, only missing the three that sometimes confuse me: Foliage, diplodocus, and formidable.

And then there's the pronunciation battle we good guys appear to have lost: Data.

Mr. Robert,

Get your learn on!

"I'm a hustla, I could sell salt to a slug."

You really should put a permalink to all your videos on the sidebar. Sometimes I wonder how to mix a perfect drink, and just can't find the help.

Jesse, that's a great idea. Meanwhile, if you go to the post of Oct. 6 "Hit parade" you'll find links to the early videos. I know I sometimes have to review how to tie a bowtie properly.

Thank you for the link, Mr Corey. I managed to listen to 32 seconds before I had to retreat to Mozart.

When How to Pronounce It v 2.0 is released, don't forget library (aka lie-berry.)

Robert (tSO), you beat me to it! My elementary school librarian pronounced it "lie-berry" and I remember thinking from the first time I met her in Kindergarten that she shouldn't be allowed to do the job if she couldn't pronounce it.

Hi Ms KB. Did you get a(n) hall pass from D@L to be here? I just sneaked over to make trouble.

My biggest pet peeve of pronunciation, after nucular for nuclear, is jewlerry for jewelry.

Mr McIntyre,
Perhaps you could clear up a little confusion for me.

The difference between careering and careening? Checked the dictionary and it appears that careering is a rush in a straight direction, and careening is (mostly) a fast-moving, lurching and swerving direction?

much like some blog comments? :-)

I wondered where everybody was.

I am fascinated when people make words longer or more complicated than they should be. Shortening makes sense.

Example: preventative for preventive.

And when did "mom" become "moms" in the urban lexicon and why? As in, "Can your moms drive you to the skate park?"

To say nothing of the peculiar way that "shrimp" is pronounced locally by some. The best written approximation I can make is "skrimpsts" (singular or plural).

"Career," from a French word for "racecourse," means to hurtle, to proceed recklessly at high speed. "Careen" has a naval origin. When ships needed work and no dry dock was available, they were beached and "careened," turned on their side, from a word for "keel." In our time, the latter word has so commonly supplanted the former, that some authorities regard the distinction as nugatory.

John: I sent this to a friend who is a reporter at the Louisville Courier Journal and this is her response:
"I found the video preferable to doing my work here in Louisville. I often have to write about zoology. Thank goodness I don't have to read my work I might do myself irrevocable harm. The boss might go nuclear or tell the comptroller to lower my wages. I think I'll go and have an expresso and practice my pronunications with the affluent writers and comtemplate a career in radio."

Corey, R@SO: Nice video. I wonder if Cassidy's grandmother has a bumper sticker on her car that says, "Aks me about my grandn****"? I'm just aksin'. Word to your granny!

One of the first things I learned when I moved to Kentucky was that Louisville was pronounced "Luhvuhl." I have said it like a native ever since, no wadded-up paper required.
Versailles is another matter entirely, though.

Shhh, Robert! Don't tell the boss that I slipped out! It's starting to look like the D@L home away from home. And props for using "sneaked" here on the language blog!

Haha Robert if you liked the last video I got another one for you,
Papoose-Law Library V - 116k

omg: the appropriate spelling is "axe" not "aks." If I were a betting man I might put money on your skin being melanin-deficient! ;)

Thank you, Mr Corey. This one was more 'musical' and I got to the 40 second mark. But I am forced to axe, why?

A new high-water mark.

...but I LIKE the X in "Ask" - it's sort of a regional dialect type thing. I also like Mr. McIntyre's expression when he gives the correct pronunciation of "Nuclear" - as the most visible culprit in mispronunciation is the current (2008) occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

My fiancee pronounces the word "similar" as simular. I don't correct her, but will use the correct pronunciation of the word soon after, if appropriate.

I've lived in Baltimore most of my life and don't recall others in the area pronouncing that word like that.

As a Louisvillian let me clarify the pronunciation tangle. While the Chamber of Commerce has a neon sign listing five acceptable pronunciations, the one most widely used is "Loovul" with the emphasis on the "Loo"

Properly pronounced Louisville, like New Orleans, has only two syllables.

Well, as a native Kentuckian, let me simply say that I have never heard another native Kentuckian, especially a Louisvillian, pronounce "Louisville" as a disyllable.

Place names always amuse me--when I first moved to Virginia there was Staunton and Buena Vista.:-)

My favorite unexpected pronunciation of a Virginia town: Dante (one syllable, rhyming with "faint.")

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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