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Vowel Mergers

A Dallas, Texas, caller says his girlfriend from a rural part of his state has an unusual way of pronouncing certain words. Email sounds like EE-mill, toenail like TOW-nell, and tell-tale like TELL-tell. These sounds are the result of a well-known...

Slake Your Thirst

To slake your thirst is to quench your thirst. But some people have been switching it to slate your thirst or other variants. It’s a classic case of an eggcorn, or one of those words that people mishear, and then start pronouncing incorrectly;...

Pronouncing Hover

How do you pronounce the word hover? In England, it rhymes more with “clobber” than “lover.” If you want to learn how to say “My hovercraft is full of eels” in lots of different languages, head on over to Omniglot...

Proununciation of Biopic

How do you pronounce biopic? The proper way to mention the genre of biographical motion picture has always been “BUY-oh-pick,” as opposed to the mirror of myopic. It’s not unusual to mispronounce a word if the spelling does not...

Middle English Lessons

If you’re still wondering about how far back in time you could go and still understand the English spoken then, check out written and audio excerpts from the poem Beowulf. Also, this NPR report in which host Robert Siegel gets a lesson in...