Sunday, November 11, 2007

29. More Mispronunciation Madness - Part II

Hello, Everybody! I hope you're all finer than frog hair and spending lots of time with those you love most.

Today, we're going to take a look at two commonly mispronounced words around these parts. Actually, I don't think we Southerners are the only ones hoein' this row, but you can bet we kill that skunk...a lot.

The first word is

INCENTIVE, a noun which means, according to Webster's, "...something that incites...determination or action...motivates..."

A common way we use this words is to say something such as,

One of the best INCENTIVES used by employers to encourage employees to work longer and harder hours is to pay them higher wages.

The problem occurs when the speaker pronounces the word INCENTIVE with four syllables, and not the correct three syllables. Thus, the word sounds something like this:

IN-CEN-I-TIVE (Please...horrors...I know none of you would pronounce it this way, would you?)

The word should be pronounced the following way:

IN-CEN-TIVE (Notice, please, there are only three syllables when you pronounce the word correctly...ahhhh, such music to my ears.)

The second word we're taking a look at today is PREVENTIVE, an adjective which means, again according to Webster's, "...undertaken to forestall hostile action..."

An example sentence using this word would be

PREVENTIVE steps against soil erosion were undertaken by the farmer to protect his corn crop.

As with INCENTIVE, many times folks give PREVENTIVE an extra syllable so that it, too, is pronounced with four syllables and not the correct three syllables. As a result, the word then sounds the following way:

PRE- VEN-TA-TIVE (Groan...This is enough to make a poor English teacher funeralize the English language...)

The word should be pronounced IN-CEN-TIVE! Three syllables only! (Help...Let's toss this pronunciation!)

Now before some of you get all fired up and tell me that PREVENTATIVE is in the dictionary, remember what I said in an earlier lesson. Many, many words have been included in the dictionary since the 1970's that are NOT Standard English. They are there because their use has become common. However, this doesn't mean that PREVENTIVE as PREVENTATIVE is correct! Besides, adding another syllable is completely unnecessary--in both words. If you'd like to impress your peers, professors, and everyone else around you, pronounce these words in the acceptable Standard English manner.

All right! There we have it for today. That's the last shingle off this barn. I hope this has been informative for you and that you'll be able to speak these words correctly from now on if you haven't been. Just practice, as usual, and you'll make a habit of it in no time.

Enjoy your week and thanks for reading. Drop me a line when you get a chance and let me know if you have any grammar pet peeves I haven't addressed yet. Peace and happiness to you all, GG

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