Monday, February 01, 2010

An Incongruous, Yet Acceptable Pronunciation

As if I need to tell anyone, I'm really a bit particular when it comes to words. Some things just bother me, and I feel the need to get them off my chest.

Everyone knows the word mischievous. It is generally pronounced mis-che-vuhs. So, why is the pronunciation, mis-chee-vee-uhs, acceptable? According to several dictionaries, it is one of the pronunciations provided. And to make matters worse, it seems that a good many people do, in fact, use this pronunciation.

I understand that there are a lot of -ious words out there that might bring about some confusion such as devious or previous. But, the word mischievous does not end in -ious. On what world is it okay to insert a syllable where nothing in the spelling of the world would dictate it. There is no i or e in the -vous part... so how can anyone think it is right? Argh. This just makes no sense to me.

I don't mind if there are alternate pronunciations for a word. I just very much prefer that the word's spelling can make some logical sense of the alternate pronunciation. Another thing... if we're allowed to say
mis-chee-vee-uhs, then how come we aren't allowed to say gree-vee-uhs for grievous? After all, they both come from base words ending in -ief.

Anyway, how about we all just agree to say mis-che-vuhs in the future and work towards a better future by removing this abominable pronunciation from our language. It's just horrible, and it kills me to know that it is acceptable.

While we're paving the way for pronunciation changes, I'd like to add A-pathetic (long A sound) as an acceptable alternate pronunciation for apathetic. I don't understand why it isn't already acceptable given that so many a- prefix words are correctly pronounced with the long A, such as aseptic, amoral, or asexual.

9 comments:

big mac said...

well aseptic means not septic, amoral means not moral and asexual means not sexual. apathetic does not mean not pathetic. it means suffering from apathy, so apathetic is the only way to pronounce that.

Brute Force said...

I strongly disagree. Apathetic does mean not pathetic (or lacking the feelings of being pathetic).

Pathetic means (as defined by M-W): having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity. It is very much related to the word pathos.

I believe you're confusing the more oft-used definition of pathetic where it means sad or lame.

big mac said...

from dictionary.com, apathy:
1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

and apathetic:
1. having or showing little or no emotion: apathetic behavior.
2. not interested or concerned; indifferent or unresponsive: an apathetic audience.

Clearly, the word 'apathetic' is meant to reflect being in a state of apathy. Definitions 1 and 2 coincide almost perfectly.

Brute Force said...

That is correct... but, understand that apathy is basically the a- version of pathy (a word that does not exist). It is the the a- version of the same root.

Apathy is very much related to not pathetic.

Compare with afire. This, for example, is not a- fire, where we are using the a- prefix (to denote 'without').

Pathos, empathy, sympathy, and all the other -path- words (unrelated to those like pathogen, which come from a whole different root) are based off the same 'path' root.

So, I stand by what I say... Apathetic means having apathy which basically means 'without pathetic' (in a different form).

Look at sympathy and apathy. The Sym- and the A- clearly creates meanings based on the 'pathy' root.

Anyone with perhaps more authority want to chime in on this?

big mac said...

I'm not disagreeing about the pathos root of apathetic. Yes, apathy comes from a-pathy, but we don't pronounce it as such, likely because there's no such adjective as 'pathy', unlike 'septic', 'moral' and 'sexual'.

We pronounce the word as apathy, and so being in a state of apathy would be apathetic. If we'd pronounced apathy as a-pathy, then no doubt we would pronounce apathetic as a-pathetic as well.

Brute Force said...

Hmmm... maybe so. I will have to look for other examples, because now that I've conferred with someone else, there is a slight difference (that wasn't really expressed, if it was, I didn't catch it) between 'not pathetic' and 'apathetic'.

Pathetic: capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity

Apathetic: absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.

So, on a re-read, it does seem like Not Pathetic is not really the same as Apathetic. Not pathetic, I suppose would mean not in the capacity of moving someone (else) to show compassion or pity. And, apathetic is the absense of passion/emotion, which does not involve another's feelings... only your own.

If this is the case, I can buy it.

Duke said...

I'll give you apathetic if it means the opposite of any definition of pathetic that you pick, BF. To get it to mean what you want it to mean, I think you need first lobby for "pathy" to become a word, and then get a new definition of pathetic added (one who has compassion, not one who induces compassion).

I gotta side with BM in this one until I find more evidence or at least an example of a word with a long A that is only the opposite of a 2 steps removed root, and not the direct parent word.

Brute Force said...

Duke -- After some searching, here's an example that might fit your criteria.

Agonic, which is pronounced with a long A. No such word as gonic, so I think it has to be two steps removed.

danielmarmer said...

People really? Pathos = emotion.
Think of sympathy, empathy, etc.
Pathy is not a word, it's a root.

I completely agree with the A-pathetic pronunciation.

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