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Avocado vs. Alvocado

A woman in Puyallup, Washington, disagrees with her husband about the pronunciation of avocado. She pronounces it as if it were spelled alvocado, with an L, but the standard pronunciation is ah-voh-KAH-doh. A small minority of English speakers...

Pronouncing The Word “The”

A Palm Springs, California, listener was taught that when the word the is followed by a vowel, it should be pronounced with a long e, and otherwise with a schwa sound. However, there’s no grammatical basis for such a rule. This is part of a...

The Dreaded Diaeresis

What do readers of The New Yorker complain about most when they write letters to the editor? Those two dots above vowels in words like cooperate and reelect. The diaeresis, as those marks are known, has remained in use at the magazine ever since the...

Variations on Gibberish

Gibberish and its variants aren’t just for goofy teens in the wayback of the station wagon. As Jessica Weiss notes in Schwa Fire, the online magazine about language, people all over the world speak various forms of it. Her article features...

Every Vowel Word Quiz

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a game where the answer to each clue is a word or phrase includes the vowels a, e, i, o, and u exactly one time each. For example, what’s a cute infant animal that’s yet to get its spikes? This is part of a...

Shoes and Socks

Put on your shoes and socks. Born and bred. Lock and load. The reason these phrases are illogically ordered probably stems from the way one forms vowels in the mouth. If you think too hard about these terms, they start to look preposterous, the...