Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Prestigious Pet Peeve

When I was around twelve years old I was reading something aloud when my sister, Barbara, corrected my pronunciation of the word "prestigious."  I had pronounced the "i" in the middle as a long "e", and she told me that it should be pronounced as a short "i".  From then on I pronounced it "correctly", and for many, many years it would actually hurt my ears when I heard someone say "pres-TEE-jus", especially if it was a news anchor.  (Well, actually, it still does!)

Yes, in the root word, "prestige", the "i" is pronounced as a long-e, but then most people pronounce that word wrong, too.  It should be "pres-TEEZH", not "pres-TEEDG", which is how I hear most people pronounce it.  That second syllable should be pronounced softly, not with a hard "dg" sound. 

Well, anyway, I finally looked up "prestigious" one day, and although the short-i pronunciation -- "pres-TIH-jus" was listed in the dictionary as the first pronunciation, meaning it was the more acceptable, the long-e pronunciation was also acceptable.

In recent years I have consulted various dictionaries, and sometimes one pronunciation is listed first, while at other times the other pronunciation is listed first.  I'm sure that whatever dictionary Barbara had read -- and I do mean "read", because she used to sit around and literally "read" a dictionary -- must have only shown the short-i pronunciation as correct, because she was always very sure about such things.

The damage was done, though, as far as I was concerned.  I prefer the short-i pronunciation and wince when I hear it pronounced otherwise.

The word comes from the Latin praestigiosus, from praestigiae, and I believe that the first "i" in both those words is a short-i. 

Does anyone else even care about how the word is pronounced? (lol)  Is there another word that makes you wince when you hear it mispronounced (or not pronounced the way you like to hear it?)?  I used to work with a girl who hated to hear someone say error as "air-or".  She said it was like chalk scraping on a blackboard, and she preferred it to be pronounced "air-er", whereas I can't even think it as "air-er"!  {shudder!}


mytwinisaclone said...

You sound like MY mom! <Not that there is anything exclusively WRONG with that fact>
My mom is a grammer-spelling-NAME freak. ( NAME is like that for a reason- I'm talking about a friend at school and she goes: WHAT did you just say she was called?!
and then burst out laughing at the obvious humor ( I know, I don't see it either ). She even went on and on (and so on and so forth) about what a hideous speller my friend was, and how she was corrupted and she be cast into the darkest pits of hell...(Well, maybe not ALL that, but pretty close). Not that I have anything against the proper use of the english language. I always get on my friend's nerves by correcting their grammer and spell checking my texts. I know...I'm a nerd.

libragem007 said...

LOL!! oh gosh..I LOVE this journal! :-D

I better not talk infront of you lol!

great journal..I'm learning.
Gem :-)

nelishianatl said...

The lady on the chalkboard, I hope she isn't an educater for that would truly be an error in someone's judgement.  

A word that give me shivers when mispronounced is 'tournament'.  Please help with the correct pronounciation of that one.  

Great job with this journal.  It is so needed.  I am one who writes with my own dialect, and 'local coloquialisms' (sp).  I certainly appreciate the information provided here.


nhd106 said...

I'm all for optional pronounciations...yet there ARE words that rub me the wrong way when not said MY way!  Can't think of any at the moment though...but there are lots, trust me.  lol


pharmolo said...

You really shouldn't have started about pronounciation, Lori. You asked for it (evil grin, read next post)

deshelestraci said...

The one that drives me nuts is height.  Around here people say heighth.  Like length.  Makes me nuts!  I did look up greasy once because around here they say it like greazy but it is in the dictionary as acceptable.  Still don't like it.

immeadow5 said...

how about the word "nuclear" pronounced "nucular"  -- Thanks GW, you make me proud to be an American!  also, "ambulance" pronounced "ambleance"  -- eesh!  I could go on and on and on...  LOL!  MeMeadow

Susan said...

So nice to see others take an interest in proper speech ..so rare anymore

Aunty Monica said...

I heard someone on a published video pronounce the second syllable as a short i, like "apprISHiate.
I only know this word as having the long ee sound as in "apprEESHiate. After all, it is an "e" and not an "i".
Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

My sister says toilet "toe-let", berry "bury", advertisement "add-vertis-mint", and she always says "I seen that" rather than "I saw that"...

Alison Cuthill said...

I’ve got too many pet peeves to count. FYI, I also say prestigious with the short “I”. I always go by the Oxford English Dictionary. Ok...so, being a teacher I constantly suggest to my students that correct pronunciation will help with spelling! These are the two that “get” me the most: our (correctly pronounced like hour) and are; been (correctly pronounced like bean)- which, of course has an entirely different sound from “being”- and bin...I think that’s especially Canadian!
Oh dear, whilst I’m on a roll...it’s espresso...not expresso and turmeric...not tumeric! Ok, now I have to rant about my latest frustration! Knowing when to use me, myself and I. Somehow, myself has become the be all and end all but it’s simply a reflexive pronoun and SHOULD NOT be used as an object or subject pronoun. It’s actually rarely used in everyday speach, well. When correctly used because it is reflexive: I wash myself; I made myself a smoothie. Poor “me” is being ignored these days...BRING “ME” BACK. It’s done nothing to deserve being thrown away. It’s a perfectly good direct and indirect object pronoun: John went to the dance with Mary and me.
Oh dear, I had better stop. This could get ugly if I choose to go down the “ending sentences with a preposition” road or knowing when to use who (for a person/animal) or that (for an object), or, dare I broach the difference between who and WHOM.....where did “whom” go? Children will never learn the difference between subjects and objects if we keep losing our language:(.