Fear of Hippo- WHAT?

Pixabay, long words, reading, writingI used to have a fear of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia . You know, fear of long words.

I blame it on my reading.

I figured out how to understand the squiggly lines on a page when I was 4. In the past, children weren’t encouraged to read in Kindergarten. The best thing for young brains was play, back in the day.

But my brain wouldn’t listen. So in between playing tag in the playground, I picked up the picture books scattered in my parents’ bookshelf, and I figured out that R U N meant to run! And S E E meant to see! A rather miraculous development, turning squiggles into words that make a sentence and more sentences into a paragraph and then a story. Pixabay, books, reading

A phenomenon that got me in trouble.

You see, by seven years of age I was reading books that included words like phenomenal and flabbergasted. I didn’t hear these words often in my “outside-of-reading” world, so I guessed at their pronunciation. Ah, another word I could read but not PROnunce.

So when I talked, I talked funny, saying things like, “Wow, Joey that catch was phee NO MEN ial.” And when I got an A in a math test I’d proclaim, “I’m flapperGASed.”

After a while, Joey and Sally and all of the neighborhood gang began to giggle at me.

So did my parents, to the point that they’d repeat a word I mispronounced and include it in their own vernacular (oh, yes, I’d say that word too – “Please don’t make fun of my VERNAcuLAir.”

“Pammy,” they’d reply, “don’t be RiDICKulus. You’re too cute.”

Well, at 10 I didn’t want to be “cute.” I wanted to be taken syrupusly.

I gave up on long words.

I spoke in mini-sentences with short words and shorter meanings.

fear of long words, reading, writing, pronouncing

Thanks to Annu Panchal, Dept. of Nursing, UCBMSH.

“I don’t want to go.”

“No, thank you.”

“Leave me alone.”

 

My path toward becoming an in TROVE ert began.

The good news is that the more time I spent by myself, the more time I read. The more time I read, the more long words I learned to mispronounce. And by the time I was in my late 20s and dating a handsome guy, I liked the fact that when I asked for a drought of beer (it’s called a ‘draft,’ sweetie) and some Wor-ces-ter-shire with my steak (“do you mean woo-stuh-sher” cutie pie?), I once again loved long words.

word pronounciation, reading, long wordsWHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE LONG WORD YOU CAN’T PRONOUNCE?

141 thoughts on “Fear of Hippo- WHAT?

  1. I had this same problem, not that I ever stopped talking, but mispronouncing words on the page. I remember reading Gone With the Wind at a young age and was unfamiliar with the name Melaine. So for years, I pronounced it MeLAINEY. I probably still do it at times. Oh well, at least we read and increased our vocabulary, even if we mispronounced some words and made others laugh. xo

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  2. There are many words, not necessarily long, that I know from reading, but have never heard pronounced. I can’t think of any of them now. 😀 But Darlene reminds me I didn’t know how to pronounce the name Phoebe, (Eight Cousins, I think?), and in my head pronounced it Fobe.

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  3. oh my goodness. SAME! I remember reading Of Mice and Men when I was eight and apparently that was for older kids. And maybe pronunciation is still an issue because I get corrected still to this day (in my 40s)… but I regret nothing! I adore reading and writing and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. 💕

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  4. This is exactly why I never went into the medical profession, Pam. As a child, I had a speech impediment and was unable to pronounce the letter “r” so this post really resonated with me. I love the pronunciation feature with online dictionaries!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was never diagnosed with a speech impediment but I still have it – r’s. Any word with an ‘r’ in it is my downfall. So since I was a teenager I got inventive and tried to use my own thesaurus in my head and replace the word that had an R with another word. Like instead of talking about the “rules” of something, I talk about the guidelines. 😏
      We are ‘R’ sisters, Jill. Thank goodness the R in hummingbird does not cause us any problems. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I do love your story, Pam. You are so cute. Using new and expressive words was brave. The mispronunciation probably sounded cute but that was not what you aimed at..
    English is a difficult language to pronounce without learning as there often are an excess of letters that are not pronounced. 😊.

    Miriam

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t know how to pronounce emeritus either Barbara. And I dislike myself when I avoid a word because I’m afraid I will mispronounce it. I have had arguments in my head with anchor people who pronounce a word so differently than I ever did. But of course, they do it right. 😳😏

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  6. This was fabulous, Pam! I remember the Nancy Drew books always had one or two words I wasn’t used to hearing when I was little. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I don’t know how to pronounce the word “patina” because I’m not sure which syllable gets the stress. I’ve never heard it said aloud, though I’ve seen it written (and I’ve written it myself) hundreds of times.

    Have a phenomenal day! And I hope you take that syupusly.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And trying to tell someone that you can’t pronounce pronounce isn’t easy. I had similar trouble… I couldn’t articular my native tongue… Er, what’d you say? Say again. I was very good at gobbledegook.
    Since then, most of my long words have come from reading American academic works and while with advent of internet I can now sit in on Yale and Harvard lectures, my English friends scowl cos I have American pronunciation… not that I know the difference. But the one word I will not use in American form is aluminium… you’re not telling me the American metal is actually the same as the English. Gotta be some other element.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This comment is so full of intelligence I had to read it three times. But I will tell you I also will never say the word aluminum out loud. It’s a metal of another color. 😏 Speaking of elements, why does that word need an extra i and an extra u ? Not fair to those of us who have a hard time ProNUNsing. 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m flattered by your comment on my comment.
        Words, such complicated things. And thats before we look at meanings, at how they evolve, at how a word might mean one thing in the UK and something altogther different in US
        Yet despite my defective head, I’m fascinated by the formation and spread of language, especially the many branches of Indo-European. And I can’t pronounce the words, but I do understand about vowel shifts and consonantal changes. Weird, hey.

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  8. Oh my! We early readers got ourselves in so much trouble. I have no idea what I can’t pronounce NOW but remember being five years old and not being able to pronounce “vinegar”. Really? Wonder what the heck that was all about? Nice to see ya this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As an early reader I would guess that you pronounced vinegar as VINEgar, which of course makes perfect sense if our English language made perfect sense. From now on I won’t reach for the vinegar without thinking of you. 🧡

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  9. Fun post, Pamela. I can’t remember the words mispronounced but I’m sure they were along the same lines as your post. I do remember being accused of not reading a book that I gave a report on. It was in the third grade and the teacher felt the book was too old for me. My mom rightly pointed out that if I indeed had not read it then how did I do the report? I don’t think that teacher liked me from that point on. I kept reading books that were too old for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wonder how you come up with such inspired posts: Dreams? Visions? Perhaps natural smarts!

    My mini-story derives not from mispronunciation, but from a flawed attempt at spelling. The word was “reconciliation,” which I tried to spell “recon-silly-ation.” It made perfect sense to me as a 3rd grader trying to win the spelling bee for the week. You may recall a variation on this story in a memoir chapter titled “Ruthie the Cheater.”

    Since you live in Massachsetts now, saying “Worchester-shire” should be a cinch.

    Thanks for the enlightenment here, dear Pam, and have a great weekend: WUNDERBAR!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smiling widely at your story, Marian. Reckon SIILY ation is the only way I will pronounce that word from now on! How silly for anyone to pronounce it differently. We were so darn cute as young readers, weren’t we? And I will never ever pronounce Worcestershire the right way. But at least I can spell it. Umm, I think? 😏

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  11. HI, Pam – My son was a very early reader too. And like you, that also got him in to trouble. At his Kindergarten Parent-Teacher Conference, his teacher burst into tears saying “I wasn’t prepared to have a reader in my room.” Who knew that that could be such a frightening thing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a story! I am trying to wrap my head around a teacher who was upset and crying about your young one who was a fabulous early reader! Now I’m wondering how many teachers I made cry when I was a youngster. 😳 Tell me, is your son still a vibrant reader?

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  12. This was delightful and reminded me of my son – who, while not a reader was an avid user of big words. While most kids were shouting “To infinity and beyond” after seeing “Toy Story”… mine was telling others: “You cup of swine!” (You uncultured swine…)

    As for me… what a trauma to find out how to pronounce Hermione after seeing the movie (and bastardizing it’s pronunciation through five books already)… There are others, I am sure, but none come to mind at this particular time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I understand your modification. Why would Schrod be pronounced scrod? Makes no sense and your pronunciation made the best sense Personally, I don’t think people should correct us over the restaurant dining table. 🙃

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  13. What a fun trip down memory lane. I was not an early reader since I was trying to speak in two languages and often got them confused. No matter where I was, someone was making fun of how I spoke so I empathize there. My dad realized how hard a time I was having with English and about 6th grade started sitting down with me on Sundays taking out the dictionary. He would pick out a word, ask me what it meant and have me spell it. I had to sound out the word and guess. I learned you could get pronunciations from that dictionary too when I was finally allowed to look on my own. Let me guarantee, no one ever talked over my head again. I learned to break words apart and figure out what they meant. But not as a small child. Coming to the States as a Kindergartner, the kids thought I was stupid because I was silent most of the time. They didn’t know I understood every word and nuance of what they had to say. I think I learned nuance before I learned the words. I’m sorry they laughed at you instead of helping you build your skills.

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  14. Being the youngest of three and having parents in education fields, I was an early reader too. I don’t remember mispronouncing words (although I’m sure I did), but I do remember loving how the words “endoplasmic reticulum” felt as I said them. I have no idea where I first heard it but I loved saying it. Now correctly spelling long (or even short) words… that’s a whole other issue.

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  15. So this was a true post — I kept waiting for a twist or punch. Yes, I remember we weren’t taught to read in kindergarten in the 50s — we listened to stories, learned to color inside the lines, play games, and take a nap (when we only went for half a day). Reading began in first grade. Don’t remember much about reading, other than we were put in reading groups according to our ability to handle Dick and Jane. I liked big words and like you tried to figure them out on my own. Enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know Patricia, I guess with my posts you have to read all the way through to see if I am writing fiction or nonfiction! Yes this is totally true and being a reviewer of children’s books I imagine that you can imagine how difficult some words in those books are for children to pronounce. But I like the fact that children’s book authors don’t try to simplify a word. Children may mispronounce the words but at least they will understand their meaning!

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  16. This is a fabulous post about reading, Pam. By the time I started teaching, we read to the students in preschool. Kids like repetition, so I read the same book over and over until they could finish the sentences for me.
    My daughter and son-in-law read to my older granddaughter when she came home on the first day. Now she is two-and-a half and memorized at least twelve books and pointing to the sentences as she “read” the books. My son-in-law is good in talking with Autumn in a regular conversation instead of using simple and short sentences.
    When I was teaching, Other teachers and I reminded the parents not to talk to their kids in “baby talk.” Yes, both the parents and the teachers have the responsibility to take the fear of long words from the kids.
    Thank you for sharing, Pam!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such an excellent comment, Miriam. Thank you! First, I don’t think anything annoys me as much as parents and other adults speaking baby talk to young children. How will the child ever learn if she’s spoken to that way?
      Second, I love how you explain how important it is to read a book many times to a child. Each time a child probably picks up a different nuance within the book. I actually remember as a child how I made my parents re-read a book so many times so that eventually even at three I felt like I could read the book because I memorized the words. Probably a great first step in reading. ❤️

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      • Your points are well taken, Pam. When I worked in the school district office, part of the job was doing parent education training. I stressed the importance of speaking in complete sentences and not to be afraid to use “big” words to young children.
        It’s true that in studying child development, I learned that young children love repetition. The feel like the “know” the books when read to them again and again.
        I remember when my daughter was four, she read a book with about three new words. She wanted to read it again until she could read through with no reminder. I think by the third time, she read through it, and she was so happy. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Love it, Pam! Much of my childhood was spent at the library or reading books under a shade tree–all while siblings and classmates were out on the playground. I loved words then, love them now and find it fascinating each time I find a new one. The great thing today is that I can Google the word and listen to the pronunciation! Awesome! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not at all surprised that you were an early and avid reader, Bette. I think our love for books definitely draws us to writing, and to writing some of our stories for children. 💖 Now, I better make myself more familiar with that Google pronunciation app!

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  18. I’m fond of mispronouncing “Tinnitus” . . . and a few times a week while watching Jeopardy I’ll realize that Alex Trebek and I don’t always agree on the pronunciation of certain words.

    I should start making a list. 😀

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  19. Pam, your love for words from a young age is wonderful and it’s almost as if you can taste them! Your post Resonates with the joy of words and how tricky they can be to pronounce … but reckon that’s part of the fun! A few shorter words have been my stumbling block for pronouncing when I keep adding a few syllables to them … jewellerey or burgularay for instance. Also I love making up words, there are just so many missing for certain emotions and situations! Have a lovely weekend, my friend! 😀❤️

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    • Hello my friend! So great to see your name here! I’m missing your blog posts! I’m hoping you are having a wonderful summer. I have the exact same problem with jewelry and burglary. For me I think it’s the “R” in there. Also, only really good writers know how to make up really good words, like fabusplentastic. That’s what you are! 💗

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      • Ahh, what a terrific new word, Pam! Fabusplentastic it is! I know, I’ve been a bit quiet on WP, but rectified that this morning with my first post in ages and hope to have a chance to visit friends more now. xx

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  20. Despite humble beginnings, both my parents were readers. I was reading James Michener by age 12. My dad was a big Zane Gray fan. When he died I found a complete collection of all the books. Reading doesn’t translate into correct pronunciations. Wish there was google when I was a kid. I had to rely on a dictionary. I’m sure I gave adults a giggle once in a while but everyone was kind at least that’s what I remember.

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  21. What a great post, Pam. I loved long words when I was young – and I loved the spelling bees we had in class, thanks to some inspiring English teachers who taught me how to spell and introduced me to some incredible books.
    Mu favorite long word (taught me by my father) is
    antidisestablishmentarianism !

    Liked by 1 person

    • W O W! That is a fantastic long word and I promise you I cannot and will not ever be able to pronounce it. 🤣 But I agree with you. When we find a juicy long word that we can speak trippingly over the tongue, that’s a really good feeling.

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    • Ah! YES! Reminds me of the old-fashioned sleeping beauty fairytales where her name is really Aurora. When I was five I wanted my name to be Aurora but I couldn’t say it because I cannot use R’s. Sooo frustrating!!

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  22. -grin- that was fun. I can just see you pontificating at 4! I was older than you when I had my first epiphany, but I can still remember what it was – the word ‘saw’. I don’t know why it was that word that did it, but at the time it felt like a revelation. Thanks for this very pleasant trip down memory lane. 🙂

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  23. I have to admit that when little kids mispronounce or even use big words it’s adorable, but not the teasing part. Funny how the love of words that begins in our early lives never really fades away and becomes part of our paths. I”m glad it worked out in the end. ❤ still don't know how to say Worchester! Lol. A fun post, Pam. Hope you're doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello dear Diana. I guess what’s interesting is that despite the fact that we are teased about our pronunciation of words early in our life, it doesn’t stop us from using them. Particularly in the writing manner! I will be returning to your blog site soon. Needed a bit of a week break. (Or is that a weak break?) 😳

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  24. I wish I remembered that moment when the squiggles made sense and I could read for the first time! It’s such a shame when the things that give us joy are pulled out as something to mock us for – so much childhood confidence that needs to be built up all over again. I’m glad you found your love of long words again 🙂

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  25. Pam, The first thing I did was copy/paste this new word into Google and see what came up. Yup! You are right!

    I taught my 4 and 6 year old granddaughters Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. They love to say/sing it to me. Supposedly it has become a real word with a definition. I am sure there are words I say incorrectly. You turned out wonderful so not a huge issue. A fun post! 🙂

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  26. This is so cute, Pam, and I’m sure you were, too! Silly as it sounds, mischievous, gives me a hard time. Funny how we get stuck on certain words. Thanks for the smiles and fun and hope you’re well! I’m late on reading. 😦 💗

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  27. Being a logophile is hard.
    I have had, and sometimes still do have the same problem – even now. Even though ‘today’ it’s easier to ask someone close for a correct pronunciation, I still cringe when I remember discussing an Om-nee-potent being in the sky with a visiting family member. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a kid when people are only focused on how ‘cute’ you are.
    I love this post, and am looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you found me here and hopefully will continue to read my flashers of life quick-read posts. Ahhhh, omnipotent- A fabulous word. One I love and have mispronounced in so many ways so many times. 😚 Thanks for sharing this and giving me a smile.

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  28. Pam, I don’t think I have a really long word in my head right now!! But I do see some as I read them; it’s just that I grasp the meaning and keep moving on. I read early, too, and you have to admit – there was something kinda nice about being doted on by all the adults who appreciated your efforts, was there not? And I”m sure it was part of what encouraged you to be the writer you are today. 🙂

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