Sunday, August 23, 2015

Answer to Yesterday’s Quick Quiz

To make sense of this post, you need to first read the previous one, which asks you to identify the mispronounced word in a one-minute video clip.

Next, my customary declaration for posts on “mispronounced words”: The objective is not to denigrate or ridicule someone. Instead, I feature such posts in the belief that if a highly educated or sophisticated person is mispronouncing or misusing a particular word, there is a high probability that at least a few of my blog readers are making the same error. In other words, these posts are meant to serve as “pronunciation/ usage alerts!” And the reason why I name the radio or TV program and identify the speaker is solely to make this feature credible.

Answer: The mispronounced word is paean (at the approx. 48-second mark, when you hear Jeffery Brown say “it’s read as a kind of paean to individualism,” mispronouncing paean, which means a song or expression of joy, triumph, or praise, as pay-ahn). The correct pronunciation: pee-un.

The most disturbing aspect of this faux pas: For as long as I can remember, Jeffrey Brown has been the go-to guy on PBS “NewsHour” for interviewing authors of every level of eminence. So, he must have used this word in several of his previous conversations, each time mispronouncing it as pay-ahn! 

Hence the following lament: Just as famous New York Times columnist David Brooks is likely to mispronounce imbroglio for years to come (see last paragraph of this September 2013 post), Jeffrey Brown is destined to continue botching the pronunciation of paean because no co-worker, friend,or acquaintance is going to correct him. Such is society.  

© Copyright 2015  V.J. Singal

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