March 13, 2007


Pronunciation comes from pronunciate, right?* At least that's how Diana Ross made it sound tonight on American Idol when she advised a contestant to pronunciate all of the words clearly. I think it was a slip of the tongue (blending pronounce and enunciate**), but when I did a Google search, I was surprised to get more than 700,000 hits, one of them a link to

There was also a homonym moment on the show.
Simon Cowell put down one contestant for butchering a Diana Ross song by saying that "when you hear a wail in Beverly Hills, that was Diana Ross watching the show". I believe that's what he said. Others thought he had just compared Ms. Ross to a marine mammal.***

*Pronounce comes from Latin pronuntiare (to proclaim, narrate, pronounce).
**While enunciate/enounce form a pair and can be used synonymously, pronounce doesn't have an -iate correlate anymore. The OED lists pronunciate as an obsolete verb (meaning "to pronounce, declare").
***Wail is a word from Old Norse, still surviving as væla in Norwegian
. Whale, on the other hand, seems to be of Germanic origin. It was spelled hwæl in Old English (OED).

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