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Pronunciation of Measure

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Anna, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, wonders if it’s okay to pronounce the word measure as ‘meɪʒər (rhyming with “hey sure”) instead of ‘mɛʒər (rhyming with “treasure”). This pronunciation is scattered across the United States, and in fact one of Jack Benny’s old radio announcers pronounced the word that way. This is part of a complete episode.

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  • The question about the pronunciation of “measure” is one I’ve been meaning to ask for years, and my first thought was, “Now I’ll have to write and tell them about Jack Benny’s announcer, Don Wilson, whose pronunciation of ‘measure’ and ‘menu’ always made me wonder the same thing.” I never would have guessed that a few seconds later, Grant would cite the very same example.

    What a joy to hear that Grant and I share the same affection for old-time radio, and especially Jack Benny. Benny’s rival, Fred Allen, is another of my old-time radio favorites, and the only person I’ve heard use the words “mulct” and “yclept” in conversation. And don’t even get me started on the linguistic treasure of Paul Rhymer’s “Vic and Sade.”

    Whenever I listen to old radio programs, especially Jack Benny, I take notice of linguistic differences, such as a character asking, “Where are you stopping while you’re in Palm Springs?” instead of “Where are you staying?” There were also a couple of Benny episodes (which I need to search for) in which “xylophone” was pronounced “zilla-phone,” an oddity I’ve never seen or heard referenced anywhere else. Too bad I didn’t have these questions years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Don Wilson in person!

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