Proper Pronunciation Is [i-spesh-uh-lee] Important

Put your pronunciation skills to the test.

Lisa B. Marshall
6-minute read

Probly [sic] You'll Make a Mistake If You Go Fast

But as I said, for this episode, I'd like to concentrate on mistakes... so here are my top four mistakes that I hear in everyday  conversations (and yes, sometimes in my own conversations). If you speak quickly, like me, probably you will shorten and mispronounce your words.  Listen when I say it fast..."If you speak quickly, like me, 'probly' you'll shorten and mispronounce your words. Did you hear it? "Probly", "you'll". The cure for this is easy... s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n.

Think of "Our" as "Hour"

Another common mistake I hear in "r" conversations is that one! Of course, I should have said "our" conversations,  not "r" conversations. To avoid any confusion try to think of "our" as "hour"  (h-o-u-r) except, of course that it doesn't have the "h". 

Anyways Is Not a Word

Anyways, what can you do? Yep, you caught me; that's another one. "Anyways," (with an "s") isn't a word, and I don't recommend using it in professional communication. It's a mistake. But, I'll admit, that sometimes I like to use it anyway, on purpose. I think it adds a sense of whimsy. For me, in casual conversation, it's almost like saying "anyhoo" but isn't quite as corny.  (OK, at least in my own mind.  Anyways [sic], I'm sure you'll will write to tell me otherwise!)

Do You Need a Realtor?

And my last one is a word that I'm hearing more often. I suppose it is because of the current housing market. This word, unlike all the others we talked about, is actually a registered trademark. This means that the trademark holder decides the pronunciation. Can you guess the word? Yep, it's realtor [real-ter], two syllables, not three, realtor [real-ter]. Do you find it strange, that somebody made up a word, for marketing, yet many people have trouble correctly pronouncing it?

Anyways [sic] when it comes to grammar, spelling, enunciation, and pronunciation, there are some folks in the world that are highly sensitive. (Yes, I'm talking to you, the one that just cringed when I said anyways [sic].) When a sensitive person detects an error, he will make snap decisions about your character and intelligence. So certainly it's something we should all be aware of, especially in our professional conversations.

Even if your listener is not overly sensitive, errors in pronunciation may still negatively impact your overall message. In professional settings, you're always being evaluated and of course you should always strive to make the best impression possible. This means pronouncing words correctly, in standard English.

Three Guarantees

At the same time, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention, that the primary goal of any conversation is communication. For example, when I speak to my husband in Spanish,  I make errors in pronunciation, muchos errores.  Although I try to correct my mistakes, my main focus is on communicating my thoughts and ideas. If he understands me, I consider myself successful. I think mispronunciations should be viewed from this perspective as well.

So, I'd like to end this episode with three guarantees. First, I guarantee that I will strive for excellent professional communication at all times. Second, I guarantee, that I'll occasionally make a mistake. And finally, I guarantee you'll let me know when that happens. Oh, one more guarantee, I'll never say ekspecially [sic] again, promise.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker, passionate about communication, your success is my business.

If you have been enjoying this show it would be great if you would write an iTunes review. It will only take a few minutes and will really help out. Thanks!

Also, as a bonus, in the resource section I've added a few links to some interesting related materials, like embarrassing stories of mispronunciation and a list of disputed pronunciations. I hope you enjoy them.

If you have a question, send e-mail to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops visit lisabmarshall.com.


Microphone image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.