Friday, February 01, 2008

I now expect to get a roasting fork in the midriff

I realise I'm treading on thin ice here, shopping my own girlfriend for linguistic solecisms, but it's done in a caring way, and because I find the whole business inherently quite interesting.

We were out walking around Newport the other day and the lovely Hazel was complaining about a draught round her "midrift". Problem solved fairly easily by doing her coat up, and I didn't feel moved to correct her at the time, but of course the word is midriff. As the Eggcorns entry says, midrift sounds intuitively more sensible in a lot of ways, but that's the English language for you.

Just to be even-handed I should point out that my ex-girlfriend Anne always used to pronounce (and may still do for all I know) the word mischievous with the accent on the second syllable and an extra i after the v, i.e. "miss-CHEE-vee-us". I think it may be a Scottish thing.

My ex-landlady and ex-boss Catherine always used to mis-render specific as Pacific, which used to amuse me no end as well. I don't recall her ever having to attempt the phrase "so, which specific ocean are you talking about?", but if she had the resulting confusion could have taken hours to clear up.

Moving a bit further afield I lose count of the number of sporting pundits (Mark Lawrenson springs to mind) who mispronounce the word lackadaisical by sticking an extra s into it so it becomes laxadaisical, presumably from a misplaced belief that it comes from the same root as the word lax.

These pages contain some more common misspellings and mispronunciations. There will be a test on this stuff later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I assumed Lawro does that to reflect his belief that the word shares some etymological kinship with "laxative" -- i.e., when a (Liverpool) back line looks like it *would've* defended, except that its members all desperately needed the loo.

Hello, by the way; I just found your blog while trawling arbitrarily about. It's very good. Shall be reading in future.