More and more words you pronounce wrongly

Akeem Lasisi

If you are among those who pronounce the second month of the year as Fe-bu-a-ry, you are not likely to spell it correctly. Instead of writing February, you may write Febuary, thus throwing away the vital r in it, as you did in the pronunciation. The word should be pronounced, Fe-bRua- ri.  The r is in capital letter to emphasise that it must be articulated. And I hope you remember what we noted last week –that Wednesday should be pronounced WenZ-day, not wed-nes-day.

The same thing applies to library. If you pronounce it as laibri, when you write it, you may end up having something as terrible as libry. The fact is that, while pronouncing the word, the r in the middle must be articulated, giving the correct sound as laib-Ra-ri.

We also can deduce that it is the wrong pronunciation syndrome that gives birth to the pervasive poor spelling of some words that end with th. If you are not guilty of this, you must have come across cases of people who write lenght instead of length; breadht instead of breadth and strenght instead of strength. They commit the blunder because they do not pronounce the words correctly in the first place. And, if truth be told, even when they get the spellings right, very many people cannot articulate the words well. Including or excluding you?

 If you say ‘No,’ pronounce length. What did you say? I heard le-n-t, as if you are pronouncing lent, the past tense form of lend.  Don’t forget that, in pronouncing length, breadth, strength and many other th-words, the consonant sound t is absent. What you have there is th, which should not be dryly pronounced as t – as if you are articulating let, bet or set.

This is where you need a bit of clinical exercise or practice. While pronouncing t, the tip of your tongue touches the upper teeth. But when it comes to th, the tip of the tongue strives to escape from between the upper and lower teeth, struggling as if it wants to come out. It is a technical exercise but, with practice and by watching other experts do it – especially on TV – you will steadily improve on the exercise.

The point I  have been trying to make is that the different aspects of English language are interwoven. If you don’t get some things right in grammar, the challenge is likely to affect your performance in certain areas of phonology and semantics – that is, meaning. And, as we discussed above, problems in oral English can have negative effects on grammar and the other areas too.

I had to engage in the long introduction because of the interest that last week’s lesson, tagged Five words you always pronounce wrongly, generated. Many people contacted me and expressed worry at the quality of their spoken English. The beauty of this, however, is that we are all eager to do better. Let’s look at a few other words that are largely mispronounced.

stAY-tus, not sta-tus

As commonly used as status is, a lot of people do not pronounce it correctly. They say sta-tus – pronouncing the vowel a the way they do it in stamp, stab, slab etc. The correct pronunciation is stay-tus, with the a sounding as you have in stay, way, blame etc. Another word you should watch in this circumstance is data. It is pronounced dAY-ta, not da-ta.

Nuclear crisis

As the economy continues to bite hard, more people are embracing the nuclear family template. Of course, nuclear energy is also for the good of humanity. But when it migrates to nuclear weapons, there is cause to worry. In language, there is another source of worry, though. This has got to do with the way many of us pronounce nuclear. We call it NOK-lear, as if a pastor is knocking the devil on the head. Others, at best, say nUclear. The correct pronunciation is NEWc-lear. In other words, the nu at the beginning of it sounds like what you have in new (opposite of old) and nu-de (synonym of naked). But there is another major issue with words with u which is so technical that I am a bit scared to discuss here. We will do so in the nearest future.

bom, not bomb

I believe a good number of us know that it is not every time you see letter b in a word that you have to let it sound when pronouncing the word. It is governed by the concept of silent sound. You know, if you want to articulate psychology, you make the p silent. The same rule applies to bomb, climb, comb, lamb etc, which a lot of people pollute in the course of pronunciation. The b that ends them should not be articulated. It is silent. So, instead of saying ‘The terrorists want to bomB the town’, say ‘The terrorists want to bom the town’.

They bombed the town last year. (Wrong)

They bomed the town last year. (Correct)

My hair is rough. Where is the comb? (Wrong)

 My hair is rough. Where is the com. (Correct)

He is looking for the lamB. (Wrong)

He is looking for the lam. (Correct)

Note that in terms of spelling, the correct forms are bomb, comb and climb. But during pronunciation, you throw away the b.

Answers to last week’s assignment

I killed a …

(a) black beautiful bird  (b) bird black beautiful

(c) BEAUTIFUL BLACK BIRD (d) black bird beautiful

They were determined not to … the game.

(a) lost  (b) loose (c) LOSE (d) loosen.

We met in …

(a) FEBRUARY (b) february  (c) Febuary (d) Febry

Those who got all the answers correctly

Kolapo Barakat, Adeyemi Daniel, Adeyemi Deborah, Musa Olufunke, Ahmed Oseni, Gift Uturu, Tunde Egbedokun, Seyi Adewuyi, Feyikemi Dada, Oyetola Rebecca, Ephraim Odeiga, AvwiorokoThelyma, Bankole Oladele, Mayowa Olubiyi, Odeh Ijeoma, Idowu Esther, Ayoola, Oluwatunmise, Kunbi Aina, Bayo Adekoya, Aina Olwale Peter, Chimezie R. Chinaka, A.B Adejumo, Adebayo Adejoke, Videha Tenitope, Adunni Ogunsakin, Eravworhe Bolanle, Salewon Adams Gbeminiyi, James Azibato, Chisara Jonah, Godwin Akpogbome, Olayinka Adesina, Charles Ikoh, Florence Michael, Rotimi Jaiyeoba, Saheed Mudashiru, Lanre Sowunmi, Olaide Owomoyela, Stella Preowei, Francis Solomon Manyo, Hussainat Dawuda, Nurudeen Opatade, Ibukun Emmanuel, Ajemrona, S.O, Oke Gabriel, Bello Tomilayo, Anthony Samuel, Gani Oladipo,Rotimi Oyedele, Gabriel O. Opute, Halimat Awonuga, Johnson Ojo, Olugbenga Adu, Idongesit Ekpamfon, E.C Porbeni, Tayo Ajetunmobi, Doris Chikodili, Nmuoka Johnny, Adex Ademole Adegoke, Kunle Segun, Tony Unogu, Daramola Oloniruha, Ayanlola Oluseyi, Ajayi Matthew, Ilu, Z. Dzarma, Adedriran Abass, Ayomuyiwa Ayoade, Famuyide Funke, Innocen Ndu, Adegoke Tiwalola, Clara Ify George, Jimoh Arimi, Garnvwa Nath, Ovie Mugho, Titus Abalu, Awonowo Adekunle, Adeloye K. Collins, Gbadebo Samson, Akinola Arowojolu, Yekeen Mutiu, Toyin Oyewoga, Benson Fadeyi, Esther Okeke, Aniamai Lucky, Frances Adeniyi, Ayodele Joseph, Foster Onuwuka, Akinrolabu Babatunde Omonitan, Ifeanyichukwu Ibekwe, Ajayi Oluranti, Ini Otu, Chuks Ona, Kokumo Olutoyin, Fasooto Ademola, Wale Ogunsade, Roland Olisa, Raheem Jimoh, Mosshoed Afolabi, Charles Ekereke, Oludare Olufade, Oladipupo Isaac, Ndidi Ihekwoaba, Charles Bassey, Olaniyi Jesutobi, Oyekan Oluseyi, Benjamin Balogun, Dickson Ogala, Adesola Adeyemo, Sangodare Ayinla, Adebayo Abdumajeed, Babajide Odubanjo, Keshinro Olayemi, Quadri Abiodun, Olumide Akinsumoye, Adeola Adedire, Sulaimon Baleeqs, Eze Jude, Chukwudi Uruakpa, Ajiboye Rasheed, Oludare Adewumi, Ogundele Babafemi, Matthew Awe, Iyade Ezekiel Adefisoye, Tunde Anibaba, Tomi Joseph, Dini Saad, Owede Agbaji, Paul Olukowade, Olunusi Gbenga, Omo’ba Folarin, Tope Omotuyi, Adebanke Adedoyin, Akinyinka Isaac, Olasunkanmi Omotosho and Taiwo Tayo.

Those who also did well

Fadare Ojo, M.S Adelugba, Nnamdi Chiegbo, Lawrence Okwe, Patrick Olus, Oladosu Olayinka Oluwasola, Shola Kaduna, Adewunmi Maria Pemisire, Olutomilola, O.O, Daniat Aminat, Favour Adeshola Adeniran, Adetokunbo Alonge, Ademola Adedokun, Ayoade Yoade, Ojedokun Philip, Oladotun Olakunle, Ven Falodun, Charles Igiebor, Adeleke Taiwo, Gabriel Christopher, Blessing Agbojare,  Salami Lanre, Adekambi Olanusi, Mikairu, G.Y, Olawuni Omotosho, Eniola Kayode and Emmanuel Oni

•Sorry, we could not accommodate answers from some participants.


  1. The students are … examined in the other room.

       (a)    being (b) to been (c) been (d) have being

  1. I pray that God … all of us.

      (a)    will protecting (b) protects (c) protect

      (d) has being protecting

  1. The man … dog was killed is still angry.

       (a)    which (b) whose (c) who (d) whom

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