Mother-tongue "traps"

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Loob

Senior Member
English UK
Until the age of 14 or so, I was convinced that there was a verb 'to misle' because I had often read the past tense 'misled'.

It was only by chance that I realised that 'misled' was actually the past tense of the verb 'to mislead'...

Do others have similar "traps" in their own language?

Loob
 
  • jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I don't know if it qualifies as a trap, but I'd always (mis)pronounced escaravelho (scarab) in Portuguese with an open e, possibly influenced by the pronunciation of velho (old), which has an open e. Not until a few months ago did I learn that the correct pronunciation has a closed e.

    Jazyk
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    From a Gallagher riff:
    How can you possibly learn to spell logically in English? Consider the word "bomb" and how it sounds. But if you change the "b" for a "c" it says "comb" and doesn't sound similar at all. Even worse: change the "c" for a "t" and now you've got "tomb".
    What the hell is going on?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    From a Gallagher riff:
    How can you possibly learn to spell logically in English? Consider the word "bomb" and how it sounds. But if you change the "b" for a "c" it says "comb" and doesn't sound similar at all. Even worse: change the "c" for a "t" and now you've got "tomb".
    What the hell is going on?
    I am most often totally surprised when I hear someone pronounce a word I have only read and find out that I have "heard it wrong in my mind" my entire life.

    For instance, I have never said "they had a row", meaning a quarrel. I thought it rhymed with "so, know". But recently I've been listening to books because of tired eyes, and I notice that I only heard "row" as "now". I thought it could be pronounced either way, and the second was BE. It appears I've been wrong my whole life.

    And just the other day I learned that "herb" does not have a silent "h". :)
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Hi, everyone,

    I used to be fooled (and probably still am without knowing it) by the existence of negatives in BE, where their positive has long ago dropped out of use. For instance, misled by the word 'disgruntled', I was using the word 'gruntled' to mean 'contented' until well into my teens, when somebody finally told me not to be a pretentious twit...:eek:

    Louisa
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    From a Gallagher riff:
    How can you possibly learn to spell logically in English? Consider the word "bomb" and how it sounds. But if you change the "b" for a "c" it says "comb" and doesn't sound similar at all. Even worse: change the "c" for a "t" and now you've got "tomb".
    What the hell is going on?
    Haha! That reminds me of my dad when he says English is a silly language - "p-u-t" = put, "b-u-t" = but.

    Gujarati and Hindi are very regular in their pronunciation, being abudigas - you basically read what you see, so I can understand where he's coming from.

    And just the other day I learned that "herb" does not have a silent "h". :)
    You might get away with that here in the North :p
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I am most often totally surprised when I hear someone pronounce a word I have only read and find out that I have "heard it wrong in my mind" my entire life.

    For instance, I have never said "they had a row", meaning a quarrel. I thought it rhymed with "so, know". But recently I've been listening to books because of tired eyes, and I notice that I only heard "row" as "now". I thought it could be pronounced either way, and the second was BE. It appears I've been wrong my whole life.

    And just the other day I learned that "herb" does not have a silent "h". :)
    That you continued to pronounce row meaning dispute for so long as "roe" meaning fish eggs is quite remarkable. I think this may have occurred because Americans use the word "fight" in this sense ("I had a fight with my wife"), where I as an Englishman would use row instead and never fight unless actual blows were exchanged. Also, you probably heard "racket" where an Englishman would say "row" in the sense of unpleasant noise (Stop that darn racket/ infernal row!). Thus you were less exposed to the correct pronunciation than would have been the case in the UK.

    As regards the silent H in herb(s), I am quite sure I have heard well-spoken Americans say the word in that way, which struck me because the H is always pronounced in Britain (unless you're a Cockney). In the original French the H here is regarded as an H mute not an aspìrated H, that is to say they say l'herbe (grass) unlike le hublot (porthole) where the H is said to be aspirated, although in practice you never hear an aspirated H unless the speaker is rather pedantic and then only before an A. So the American pronunciation with no H is closer to the original than the British.
     

    viera

    Senior Member
    English/French/Slovak
    I always pronounced (in my mind) the word abrupt as a-burped - I probably spelled it aburpt too - until my last year of high school when I pronounced it in my usual way in English class and was corrected by the teacher. Because of my amazement and embarrassment I have never forgotten the incident.

    Another mistake that sticks in my mind is a mistake I made in a grade 2 spelling test. It was a list of words without any context, and I wrote "uv" instead of the word of. I remember being extremely annoyed at not having recognized a word I knew perfectly well. I felt that the test was somehow unfair, not giving any context.

    I recently heard "herbs" always pronounced without the 'h' on Canadian and American TV, and it made me cringe every time.
     

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    That's interesting .... I've never heard anybody in Ontario pronounce "herbs" without that h.

    I still get frustrated when I hear people pronounce "kilometre" to rhyme with "pedometer", probably because the e and r on the end get reversed so often.
     

    ernest_

    Senior Member
    Catalan, Spain
    In Catalan there's a problem which is that the feminine article "la" may be confused with the masculine article abbreviated ("l") when the noun begins with "a". So:

    la moto (the motorcycle), and
    l'amoto

    sound exactly the same. As a result, many people (especially in the countryside) think that the noun is "amoto", and they say things like "He's got a new amoto" instead of "He's got a new moto". This thing irritates me the most.
     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    I don't know if this is really an "mtt" :)p) but for some reason, when younger I used to pronounce "syrén" (lilac) as "surén" with a u-sound instead of a y-sound. And the same but the other way round with "ungefär" (approximately) that I'd say "yngefär". I still do, at times, seems to be a difficult habit to get rid of.. and I don't even know where I got that pronounciation from.

    Another tricky part is the pronounciation of words borrowed from other languages, but that still maintain some sort of half-way original pronounciation - should you adapt them more fully to Swedish pronounciation patterns and be seen as ignorant, or (if you know it) use the original pronounciation and, apart from sounding weird, be considered pretentious? I avoid certain words like the plague...!

    I can't think of more things right now, but I think there's a good bunch of them, and the misle-as-verb kind of mistake sounds familiar!

    I really enjoy this thread!
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    In my house, we refer to a drawer set as a "chester-drawer" which apparently is the incorrect form of "chest of drawers." I was corrected a couple months ago, and it was embarrassing to say the least!

    I have a million of these...let's see if I can remember.
     

    alexacohen

    Banned
    Spanish. Spain
    In Spain there is a lot of trouble with the verb "abolir" (to abolish), which is defective and can't be used as a regular verb.
    But many people don't know (specially politicians :D ) and you can hear the most extraordinary sentences with that verb conjugated as regular such as "yo abuelo" = I grandfather.
    Alexa
     

    curly

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Today I learned that one doesn't FREquent a pub, they freQUENT it. I hate English:D
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In Spain there is a lot of trouble with the verb "abolir" (to abolish), which is defective and can't be used as a regular verb.
    But many people don't know (specially politicians :D ) and you can hear the most extraordinary sentences with that verb conjugated as regular, such as "yo abuelo" = I grandfather.
    Alexa
    I'm confused. Wouldn't "abuelo" be irregular? :confused:
     

    alexacohen

    Banned
    Spanish. Spain
    I'm confused. Wouldn't "abuelo" be irregular? :confused:
    Yes, it would. But people don't realize they've chosen the wrong way to use the verb until it's too late... the trick is that it cannot be used in the active voice.
    "Yo.... (searching desperately for verb form; finding none; realizing there must be some way in which the verb must be conjugated; doing so in a last desperate attempt)... Errr... estoooo..... yo abuelo..."
    Alexa
     

    LaReinita

    Senior Member
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    Well, this is embarrassing, but since I was little I have always pronounced the word "bedroom" like "bedgeroom" . . I don't know where it came from, I'm originally from Brooklyn, so maybe that has something to do with it.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    That you continued to pronounce row meaning dispute for so long as "roe" meaning fish eggs is quite remarkable. I think this may have occurred because Americans use the word "fight" in this sense ("I had a fight with my wife"), where I as an Englishman would use row instead and never fight unless actual blows were exchanged.
    It's not a word I have ever used. My wife also thought it was pronounced "roe". ;)
    Also, you probably heard "racket" where an Englishman would say "row" in the sense of unpleasant noise (Stop that darn racket/ infernal row!). Thus you were less exposed to the correct pronunciation than would have been the case in the UK.
    Exactly. Lately I have been listening to many books written by "BE authors", so I immediately picked up the difference.
    As regards the silent H in herb(s), I am quite sure I have heard well-spoken Americans say the word in that way, which struck me because the H is always pronounced in Britain (unless you're a Cockney). In the original French the H here is regarded as an H mute not an aspìrated H, that is to say they say l'herbe (grass) unlike le hublot (porthole) where the H is said to be aspirated, although in practice you never hear an aspirated H unless the speaker is rather pedantic and then only before an A. So the American pronunciation with no H is closer to the original than the British.
    Right. :)

    Gaer
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    That's interesting .... I've never heard anybody in Ontario pronounce "herbs" without that h.

    I still get frustrated when I hear people pronounce "kilometre" to rhyme with "pedometer", probably because the e and r on the end get reversed so often.
    Do you mean that that it bothers you when people don't rhyme "kilometer" with "centimeter"? :)
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    I used to say "extrapolate" as "extraPOlate" as if it were a compound word (extra - polate).

    Only a few months ago did someone correct me by saying "exTRApolate".
    The funny thing is, I knew this pronunciation by hearing it all the time, but I never put 2 and 2 together, never realizing that what I read as "extrapolate" was the same word as "exTRApolate" which came from people's mouths.

    Weird!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    In Catalan there's a problem which is that the feminine article "la" may be confused with the masculine article abbreviated ("l") when the noun begins with "a".
    This is a known phenomenon in language - the name of which escapes me - but examples are Latin HEDERA > "La lierre" in French and "mine Ann" > "my Nan" (creating the alternative form for the name Ann, Nan).

    My embarrassments are

    - thinking that there were two words, one pronounced and written "casm" (hard c) and another pronounced and written "chasm" (with the "ch"). I was quite old before I realised that I had never actually heard "chasm" and never actually read "casm" and that there was actually just one word "chasm" pronounced as if the "h" wasn't there!:D

    - thinking that "ethereal" was pronounced "ether-real".
    - thinking that the name Imogen was pronounced with a hard "g".

    I suppose I must just have read those last two for a long time before hearing them said!
     

    ShOoK

    New Member
    English, Canada
    A mistake I hear at school all the time...
    "I need to presentate my project" instead of "I need to present my project"
    When I first heard it I didn't even notice the mistake.. but I hear it more and more now. I guess it's just one of those words that sticks with you.. I even catch myself almost saying it by accident, at times!
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Today I learned that one doesn't FREquent a pub, they freQUENT it. I hate English:D
    Really? :eek:


    Well, one thing that I did up until two years ago (and still find myself doing) was to use the non-existing word imidlertidig when I wanted to say 'however / on the other hand, meanwhile'.

    Turns out the word is imidlertid, and I've been confusing it with the word for 'temporary/-ily', midlertidig.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    This is a known phenomenon in language - the name of which escapes me - but examples are Latin HEDERA > "La lierre" in French and "mine Ann" > "my Nan" (creating the alternative form for the name Ann, Nan).
    My favorite in English:

    people, pee-pole. ;)
    My embarrassments are

    - thinking that there were two words, one pronounced and written "casm" (hard c) and another pronounced and written "chasm" (with the "ch"). I was quite old before I realised that I had never actually heard "chasm" and never actually read "casm" and that there was actually just one word "chasm" pronounced as if the "h" wasn't there!:D
    Now, for MY most embarrassing moment:

    I thought "pubic hair" was public hair until I was about 12. Go ahead and laugh. :eek: ;)

    Gaer
     

    Stefanie1976

    Member
    German, Germany
    Due to the region I grew up in, and in family where no standard German was spoken, I was always teased for not being able to pronounce the standard German "ch" (the soft version like in "ich" - "I")... In elementary school all the kids made fun of me, so that I started practising a lot. I think now I can do it, but German natives can still pin point the region I come from pretty quickly :eek:
     

    Jigoku no Tenshi

    Senior Member
    Venezuela-Castellano
    Until the age of 14 or so, I was convinced that there was a verb 'to misle' because I had often read the past tense 'misled'.

    It was only by chance that I realised that 'misled' was actually the past tense of the verb 'to mislead'...

    Do others have similar "traps" in their own language?

    Loob
    Hello Everybody!

    Of course We have, in Spanish the verbs that end in "ar" usually end in "e" in the first person past tense for example

    Caminar-Caminé,nadar-nadé, but for "Andar" is "anduve" not "ande", as you logically might think, so irregular verbs can usually be traps for most uf us, and this is only the top of the Iceberg, When I remember more examples I'll write them.

    In English I always thought that the past paticiple of TO DIE was DEAD, because I had always heard "He/she/it's dead", so I thought it was "He/she/it has dead" but when I really started studying English I dicovered my awful mistake
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Despite all this I don't think one can say there is no logic in the spelling. The problem is that there are simply different patterns of logic that one should learn to distiguish. Sometimes you need a sense of history, something you need something else to distiguish. This basically not at problem that only exists in English only. And also not in spelling only. In grammar it is similar - take irregular verbs as an example: In many languages that have all 1-3 person, singular and plural foms occasionally there are verbs of where the sing. and plur. forms seem to have no similarity in at least one of the tenses if not all. Seems absurd but even behind this there is usually some logic to be found.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Despite all this I don't think one can say there is no logic in the spelling.
    Despite all "what"? :)

    I don't think that anyone is saying that there is no logic at all in the spelling of English, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is far easier to spell in German.

    Anyone who has taught children how to read will most likely agree with me that it is VERY hard to teach children to "sound out words" in English because of the many "exceptions".

    Gaer
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I remember I saw a commercial as a child for longline girdles, guaranteed to help with "midriff bulge." I had never heard the word "midriff" and I thought they had said, "drifting bulge." I formed this idea in my head that older adults suffered from some terrible condition where bulges would pop out on their body and then drift around and that the longline girdle covered enough area to catch most of the places it might drift. It became yet another reason that I never wanted to be an adult.

    As it turns out, I wasn't too far off the mark. :)

    - James
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    A mistake I hear at school all the time...
    "I need to presentate my project" instead of "I need to present my project"
    When I first heard it I didn't even notice the mistake.. but I hear it more and more now. I guess it's just one of those words that sticks with you.. I even catch myself almost saying it by accident, at times!
    Presentate based on the noun presentation derived from the verb to present is what they call a "back-formation". I have never heard presentate myself so perhaps it never occurs in England, but I've certainly heard a headmaster at a Sports Day say to his schoolchildren," "If you're here as a participant then paricipate, but if you are only a spectator just spectate:cross: ". I think the use of this non-dictionary word is pretty widespread now. Another example, that irritates me rather more is the common use of the noun "loan" to replace the verb "lend" from which it derives: " Can you loan:cross: me your comb/ pen/car etc.?" It is very widely used now in the UK and even more in the States.
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    A lot of Gujarati-speakers (whose English accent I find really funny) sometimes mispronounce the letter i as "aay" when it should be "i" (like in "ink")

    A good example would be DIVORCE -> DIE-VORCE

    :D
     

    Henryk

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    Until the age of 14 or so, I was convinced that there was a verb 'to misle' because I had often read the past tense 'misled'.

    It was only by chance that I realised that 'misled' was actually the past tense of the verb 'to mislead'...

    Do others have similar "traps" in their own language?

    Loob
    Till some years ago, I used the word "erstens" in the wrong way. Actually it only means "first/firstly" but because my mother always used it in the meaning of "a short while ago" (in German something between "vorhin" und "letztens") I adopted it and it still comes to my mind today when describing an activity I did earlier a day. Accordingly I was looked at oddly by my friends. In the meantime, I can suppress this usage always coming up, though.

    I don't think that anyone is saying that there is no logic at all in the spelling of English, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is far easier to spell in German.
    Absolutely. It might be the case that homophon words are spelled differently but there are no such irregularities as in English. For instance words in which you have to decide whether to use "s" or "ß" or one or two vowels. (Meer/mehr, Moor, ...) Plus, no word that is pronounced irregularly comes across my mind (If we leave out the "v" at the beginning of words which is pronounced according to the word's origin.)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Another example, that irritates me rather more is the common use of the noun "loan" to replace the verb "lend" from which it derives: " Can you loan:cross: me your comb/ pen/car etc.?" It is very widely used now in the UK and even more in the States.
    I think this is a bit like being "irritated" by "disorientate". ;)

    Cambridge says this:

    loan
    verb [T] MAINLY US
    to lend:
    This library loans books, CDs and videotapes.

    In other words, I'm not sure that "loan", used in the way you mentioned, is so much "wrong" as typically "AE". Perhaps Panjy can find a usage note for us that will clear up the matter. :)

    Gaer
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I think this is a bit like being "irritated" by "disorientate". ;)
    Yes - I can assure the AE speakers that "he was completely disoriented" sounds very strange to us too (well at least to me I should say), like management speak - which is exactly, by the sound of it, the effect "disorientated" has on your ears!:)

    However - does the (BE?) use of "lend" sound strange to AE ears? Personally it wouldn't come naturally to say "he loaned me his book".
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Yes - I can assure the AE speakers that "he was completely disoriented" sounds very strange to us too (well at least to me I should say), like management speak - which is exactly, by the sound of it, the effect "disorientated" has on your ears!:)
    "Disorientate" now sounds perfectly fine to me because I have listened to so many book-recordings of "BE books", but it is true that at one time I thought it was wrong. Period. ;)
    However - does the (BE?) use of "lend" sound strange to AE ears? Personally it wouldn't come naturally to say "he loaned me his book".
    Not to my ears. :) I am tempted to say that either sounds fine, but I'm not sure.

    I THINK I would say:

    My friend loaned (lent) me his car.
    Would you please lend me your pen.

    But I'm not sure now, because "Heisenberg Language Uncertainty Principle" has kicked in.

    (This means that any attempt to analyze what is natural destroys the ability to "be natural".) :D

    Gaer
     
    Row and roe are not homonyms?
    Herb, my neighbor, and Herb, a plant, are homonyms?
    Kilometer and pedometer don't rhyme?

    I'll be going back to bed now...

    (I would have said "I'm going to go lay down", but I am incapable of remembering how to use the verbs "to lay" and "to lie" correctly, so I simply avoid them altogether - I can't be alone on that one... Or am I?).
     
    :confused: ...I thought it was "ether-real".

    So is it pronounced "eTHEEreal" (with the "th" unvoiced)?

    Luckily I've never spoken this word aloud.
    Hmmm, I think the tricky part with this word is that the "real" part is not pronounced like "real". It is pronounced like "rEE-al". So the "real" has two syllables, not just one. So the whole word has 4 syllables, it's "E-thee-ree-al.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Row and roe are not homonyms?
    Herb, my neighbor, and Herb, a plant, are homonyms?
    Kilometer and pedometer don't rhyme?
    From BE point of view -

    Not homonyms if "row" means "argue", are if it means "line".
    Are homonyms (in BE - although we never call anyone "Herb" so it's never an issue!:D).
    Depends on the person. Prescriptivists would say they shouldn't rhyme. In my experience they usually do.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Hmmm, I think the tricky part with this word is that the "real" part is not pronounced like "real". It is pronounced like "rEE-al". So the "real" has two syllables, not just one. So the whole word has 4 syllables, it's "E-thee-ree-al.
    I think either way they have 4 syllables - it's just that the stress should be on the 2nd and not the 3rd (with a secondary stress on the first) as I once thought.
     
    I think either way they have 4 syllables - it's just that the stress should be on the 2nd and not the 3rd (with a secondary stress on the first) as I once thought.
    Ahhh, perhaps we have stumbled on another AE/BE difference - in AE, "real" is not pronounced "re-al", but simply "reel"... atleast my pronunciation of it is monosyllabic, unless I am searching for some sort of alliteration effect.

    Have you no Herberts in your neck of the woods, then ;)?
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    From BE point of view -

    Not homonyms if "row" means "argue", are if it means "line".
    Are homonyms (in BE - although we never call anyone "Herb" so it's never an issue!:D).
    Depends on the person. Prescriptivists would say they shouldn't rhyme. In my experience they usually do.
    Prescriptivists and pronunciation, in my hand book, do not match. Which pronunciation would be correct then?
     

    tanager

    Senior Member
    US/English
    Until the age of 14 or so, I was convinced that there was a verb 'to misle' because I had often read the past tense 'misled'.

    It was only by chance that I realised that 'misled' was actually the past tense of the verb 'to mislead'...

    Loob
    I'm glad I'm not the only one!

    This word still gives me problems and I am in my 30s.... Every time I see it, I read it as the past tense of "misle" and I have to work to see it the right way. I used to imagine that it had some sort of meaning like "to confuse, fluster". (What do you think--sounds like a good word to add to the language! :D)
     

    tanager

    Senior Member
    US/English
    A common mistake in English is to use "analyzation" (which as far as I know doesn't exist) instead of "analysis" -- an example of using the right rules to get the wrong result.

    One mistake it's taken me a long time to correct involves the word "surprise". I always thought it had only one "r" because I hear it as "Suhprise!"
     
    More than that, there is a difference in the vowel sounds in kilometer. you've got your "ka-la-ma-der" (as I say), and then you've got your "kill-oh-mee-ter". I would not dare to say advance that one pronunciation is better or more correct than the others... It's not like certain North American presidents that pronounce "nuclear" as "nuke-u-lar", or anything :D!
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    Ahhh, perhaps we have stumbled on another AE/BE difference - in AE, "real" is not pronounced "re-al", but simply "reel"... atleast my pronunciation of it is monosyllabic, unless I am searching for some sort of alliteration effect.

    Have you no Herberts in your neck of the woods, then ;)?
    I pronounce "real" as a diphthong. But I'm not sure whether diphthongs are counted as monosyllabic or disyllabic.
     
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