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January 4, 2013 Click here to mail this page to a friend.
Ignoring Clint Eastwood's advice in "Dirty Harry" that opinions, like certain body parts, are best kept to yourself.

The 100 most often mispronounced words and phrases in the English language.When I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10, I could not, no matter how hard I tried, pronounce "Aluminum". For some reason, that word just got all tangled up in my mouth and came out funny every time. Eventually, I worked it out, but I was reminded of it the other day, when a news anchor on television botched up the name of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now, who wouldn't screw-up that name, unless you practiced and practiced, as I'm pretty sure the broadcast people had to do, when the fellow first came to office and was in the news. I'm not sure I could pronounce it now, even after hearing it thousands of times.

Former President Bush had trouble with a lot of words, including "nuclear" (nuke-LEE-ar), which he pronounced "nucular" (nuke-YOO-LAR). The invented word "strategery" was attributed to Bush, but was actually created by Saturday Night Live comedy writers for a skit about the president, and became so popular that even White House staffers began to use it.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine yesterday, and he started to laugh, telling me about how a couple of his relatives had my "aluminum" problem. He said that, years ago, family members were discussing a recent funeral, and one of the women kept referring to the pallbearers as "polar bears". She just could not pronounce "pallbearers".

Another relative was married to a woman who could not, for the life of her, say "aluminum foil", which I sure could identify with, and the guy took great delight in embarrassing her in front of friends and family by saying "HEY HONEY, SAY ALUMINUM FOIL!" However it came out, my friend said it was hilarious, and he really felt sorry for the poor woman, who tried to be a good sport about it.

I've been married to a real "grammar nazi" for nearly 47 years now, I still make the same mistakes with grammar and pronunciation, and she continues to make the same corrections. I'll be listening to someone sing or play a musical instrument on the radio, and I'll say something like "He played that good …" and she'll say "WELL!".

Or, like the other day, when I mispronounced "February" (Feb-YOO-air-y) , and she immediately corrected me with "IT'S FEBRUARY!" (Feb-ROO-air-y) .

Now, in my defense, that has to be a pronunciation that more people get wrong than right, and I will continue to get it wrong.

Am I right?

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