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Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

01
Jul
2015
 

By Miranda

One of those things about English is that you're almost required to know Ancient Greek and Latin in order to spell the language. For native speakers and those acquiring English by listening to English-speakers, we take for granted the sounds, only running into problems when we have to put them on paper, no, that's an issue in itself, I mean enter them into a document.
Take, for example, the 'ch' which pops up in words deriving from the Greek. We hear the words 'stomach' and 'ache', understand them and use them in speech but it's not until we're in the classroom or otherwise having to create a text version that examples such as 'stumak' and 'ake' crop up when we first try to write them down.
So we learn that what's spelt 'tech' is pronounced 'tek' but what's spelt 'such' (no Greek here, it's perhaps of Old Norse origin) rhymes with 'hutch'.
The upside is that whatever is potentially able to be confused is also material for a joke.
And so the word 'chaos'. If you decide to ignore the pronunciation determined by its Greek derivation then you might use another English sound for 'ch', that of 'choose' or 'chocolate', and end up with your 'kayoss' sounding more like 'chayoss' or even 'choos' or 'choss'.
Not entirely surprisingly, it has just made it to the OED in exactly this way.
In rock-climbing, the word 'choss' refers to rock that's particularly unsuitable or dangerous for climbing. For me, that would be just about any rock. For those who, presumably, are not terrified of heights it refers more specifically to rocks which are crumbly or likely to fall away. And the OED has just added it to the dictionary in exactly that sense, suggesting that its origins are a humorous mispronunciation of 'chaos'.
But OED's first citation is from the author of the iconic Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell, for whom, apparently, this term was a family joke-word for a state of disorder induced by re-decorating.
Do you have a word which you deliberately mispronounce? And is there a word to describe this process?

1383 Responses to

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

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jafa said:
August 03, 2015 at 9:12 AM

Yes Pammy, we have willy-wagtails, peewees, doves and wrens in our gardens. Magpies around about. :)) No kookaburras here though. It seems unAustralian :P

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said:
August 03, 2015 at 10:24 AM

morning all ,beautiful day here ,22 degrees atm .those fires are bad ,down the blue mountains ,seems strange when they had snow there a few weeks back .

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August 04, 2015 at 8:12 AM

Oh boy. Day before yesterday, husband very pleased - putting Windows 10 on laptop. Not so pleased now. Oh boy.