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Even native English speakers mispronounce words that they should know! Curious which words Americans mispronounce MOST OFTEN? Check it out here.
Recently, President Trump mispronounced Yosemite.
When they gaze upon Yosemite’s— Yosemite’s towering sequoias—
Now, yes, probably 99 percent of Americans, if not more, know how to pronounce Yosemite. It’s one of America’s most famous national parks. But still, I would feel very confident saying every person who speaks American English has mispronounced a word. I’ve done it. You’ve done it.
In this video, we’re going to look at tricky words that mess Americans up. Why? Two reasons. My students are people who are not native speakers of American English, some of them are terrified, mortified of saying a word incorrectly, of misusing it. So I’m making this video so that one, they know native speakers do this too. If we read a word or learn it through reading, we may mispronounce it. There’s not a direct correlation between letters and sounds in American English. For example, grove, glove. Oh, ah. Why are the vowel sounds different?
And the second reason I’m making this is so that students can learn some of these tricky words that might be intimidating. Now as always, if you like this video, or you learned something new, please like and subscribe with notifications. It really helps.
Let’s start by looking at the word Yosemite. A word that ends in M-I-T-E, will usually be pronounced: mite. Termite. Stalagmite. But not this word, this word is Yosemite. It comes from the language of the indigenous people who populated the area that is now this national park. Yosemite. Not: Yosemites, yosemites.
But: Yosemite. Second syllable stress, flap T, Yosemite, mite, mite. Yosemite.
Now just to be fair to both sides of the political spectrum here, I found a word that president Obama mispronounced. I’m going to stress again, every native speaker of American English has mispronounced a word. If you’re a native speaker, and you’re watching this video, please put in the comments words that you have mispronounced, why you did it, how you figured it out, who corrected you, if you can remember all of that.
Okay here’s Obama: Representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world. Navy corpsman, Christian Bashar.
The word is corpsman but he pronounced all of the letters making it corpsman. Just as trump was, he was reading off a teleprompter, and you know, now that I think of it, that might have been the reason these words were mispronounced. You’re in front of a crowd, reading something you probably didn’t write, it’s less organic than saying a word that comes to mind.
It’s not corpsman, it’s corpsman. The word corps is a word I’ve definitely heard mispronounced. By the way, I tried to see if Obama mispronounced the word corps and I couldn’t find any examples. He always said it right. But if you’ve only learned the word by reading it and you’ve never heard it pronounced, how would you know the p and the s are silent?
This word comes to English, from French, from the Latin word ‘corpus’ meaning body. And in French, they drop a lot of sounds so we picked that up when we absorbed the word from them. You might have heard the terms peace corps, Marine Corps, press corps.
A corps is a group of people associated with each other, acting together especially for example, in the military. Now to make it more confusing, the word corporal, which also comes from French, and originally the Latin word corpus, does have a P sound. Corporal. Corporal. But corps, silent P, silent S.
On top of this, if you pronounced all the letters and you did say the word ‘corpse’ that is a word, only we spell it with an E at the end. It’s a dead body. Very different meaning.
Okay, now we’re going to go to a news correspondent, Kris Jansing. I asked her if there are any words she has a hard time pronouncing.
Are there any words in American English that you stumble over sometimes, that are a challenge for you?
Do you know, I think it’s like anybody else, sometimes when you read something, it just doesn’t look right. And it might be a simple word, so usually, it’s something like that that will trip you up.
She agrees the teleprompter might be causing some of the mispronunciations, because some words just don’t look at all like they’re pronounced. She gives us another word I hear mispronounced a lot, and you all pointed out too in the comments of another video on mispronunciations.
I do have some pet peeves, like nuclear, which we know is nuclear, kind of bug me a little bit.
Listening to the pronunciation, I hope, guys.
Nuclear. This is a three-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. DA-da-da. Sometimes, even native speakers will mix up the location of the L and say: nuc-ya-lar. But it’s: nu-cle-ar, nu-cle-ar. Nuclear.
But we all do the best we can and you never get it right 100 percent of the time.
Nuclear. Nuclear. Not nu-cu-ler. Nuclear.
By the way, did you hear Kris Jansing use the term ‘pet peeve’? This is a term we use for something that annoys us. For example, one of my pet peeves is when people chew with their mouths open while eating. Pet peeve. Actually, someone else used that phrase in the comments. My pet peeve is people mispronouncing realtor like really re-lit-or. Realtor. This is a word that we use for people that help us buy and sell houses. Real estate agents. There’s no sound between L and T. Real-ter. But lots of people put a schwa between L and T, and make the T a flap T, which sounds like: re-lit-or, re-lit-or. It’s small, adding that extra syllable. It’s like when people say ‘triathalon’ when it’s actually triath-lon. No vowel between the constants TH and L in triathlon, and no vowel between L and T in realtor. Real estate realtor.
You know, English words that come from French can be especially tricky to pronounce. One person commented about cash, and cachet. Robin says: as an avid reader, I’ve mispronounced lots of words over the years. And then goes on to talk about cache versus cachet.
Do you know the word avid? It’s a great vocabulary word. It means a lot of interest in something, an eagerness for something, a desire for something. As an avid reader, Robin loves to read. More sample sentences: avid fans can meet her after the performance. Or, he’s an avid supporter of the arts. Someone else brought up cache and cachet and said: one of my co-workers ‘cracks me up’ now that’s a phrasal verb that means makes me laugh really hard, one of my co-workers cracks me up whenever she says her computer is going slowly, and she has to clear her cache. So cache and cachet. We have two different words here. Cache, which doesn’t have a T and cachet which does have a T but we don’t pronounce it.
Most Americans if they didn’t know this word when they saw it written would probably pronounce it cachet. It but it’s from French, the CH is an SH sound, we have stress on the last syllable and we don’t say the T. Cachet. Actually, the stress can be on either syllable, but second syllable is more common.
Cachet is being respected, admired, it’s prestige. If you have social cachet, you’re popular, important, and well liked.
Cache, on the other hand, is pronounced just like this word ‘cash’ as in money. It’s a place of storage, maybe hidden. You’re probably familiar with this when it comes to computers. It’s temporary storage for a web browser to make pages load faster for you in the future. Cachet. Cache. Two totally different words, and yes, sometimes Americans say cachet when they mean cache. Which makes sense because in cache, we don’t say anything for that ending letter E. But in cliché, we do. This is another word that you might hear mispronounced: clich, clikee, clitchy? No. Cliché. Again, second syllable stress and the CH makes an SH sound. Cliché. Something is a cliché if it’s a stereotype, unoriginal, overused. I’ll use it in a sentence: The novel is cliché. There are no interesting characters, the plot lines are very predictable. So why in cache, is CHE pronounced SH whereas in cliché, it’s pronounced ‘shay’? I have no idea. But remember, chache, storage. Cachet, prestige. Cliché, unoriginal.
Our last two words are also of French origin. Do you know how to pronounce this word?
Are you thinking debris? That’s probably how an American would pronounce it if they’d never seen it before or heard it, but it’s: debris. Last syllable stress, silent S. Debris is leftover, bits and pieces, remains of something. For example: After the earthquake, we went searching through the debris of buildings. And Let’s do one more: debt. That’s something owed, we have a lot of credit card debt, for example. That means we owe a lot of money to the credit card company. Debt, no B sound. Same with doubt, no B sound, silent B.
We’re getting towards the end of this video.
Now, if you’re still watching, thank you. If you ever notice a video where someone is mispronouncing a word, like Trump or Obama in the examples, in this video, please come back to this video here and link that mistake in the comments, I absolutely love that kind of thing.
And don’t stop, keep watching. We’ve got almost 700 great videos on the English language for you. I make new videos primarily to help non-native speakers of American English feel more confident and comfortable speaking English, every Tuesday morning. I also have an academy Rachel’s English Academy where you can train to take your English communication skills to a new level, check it out at rachelsenglishacademy.com that’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.