Middleagedmum.com: what did you just say?

I cant hear you

You know what its like, you are having a perfectly normal conversation with someone you may only have met a couple of times. They may be a potential friend or someone you will have to come into contact with quite often in the future. Maybe a hairdresser, your children's teacher or a new work colleague. Then they do it, they slip it into a sentence and at first you think you have misheard. Then they say it again and you know you were right. They did that word thing, the thing that renders any further conversation impossible, because you simply can't get past the fact they have just made up their very own pronunciation of a very ordinary word. The rest of the conversation goes by in a blur, with you answering but not really listening, as you are still fixated on the word.

The next time you meet, you wait for it, perhaps it was one off, perhaps they won't do it again. Then they say it and you know – this is it – for ever. If you are going to be their friend/colleague/client you are going to have to live with it or move on, as no sane person has ever fallen out with a friend or changed their hairdresser just because they created their very own version of a word!

Perhaps its just me that feels like this, as MAD Dad says I have zero tolerance when it comes to strange or irritating habits and obsessions. Men on public transport (why are they always men?) who crack their knuckles, jog one leg manically or constantly sniff/cough/pick/chew gum drive me insane and I deal with them by staring pointedly at the thing they are doing, looking them in the eyes and sighing heavily. That usually sorts them out, and if it doesn't, I do it again, but with more emphasis!

But there is no way round the word thing, as it's in no way anti social and could never be considered offensive. In fact it could even be seen as comical, but where did it come from and who told these people it was ok to do this?

My first weird word experience started at an early age, as my mum has two of her very own words. 'Mortgage' (pronounced morTgage, with a heavy emphasis on the T –  the T is not silent in my mums world) and 'margarine' (pronounced marGarine, again heavy emphasis on the G, as in G for gold). When I first realised this was so hideously wrong, I was a teenager and keen to challenge my parents on any subject, but despite my protests, she has continued to emphasis the usually silent T and G and I have had to learn to live with it. 

When I moved to Hull as a teenager, I realised a whole city had somehow come up with new ways to pronounce 'trousers' and 'mirror'. The first few times I heard someone say 'trousies' and 'mirroe', I wondered if I had misheard and that perhaps there were some foxes in soxes hiding somewhere with a Candid type camera. But oh no, it seemed the people of Hull had decided to re-invent two otherwise inoffensive words, all on their own.

One wonders where these adaptations of words first started, who was the first to decide 'I know I'm going to  make up my very own version of that word and throw it into the conversation and see if anyone notices'. 

Well I'll tell you something I notice and it worries me, a lot, and I am passing on my concern to my daughter. Recently we visited one of my oldest friends. She is one of the most genuinely lovely people I have ever met, except, she says siSSors (heavy emphasis on the SS like SSsssnake) and it gets me every time. Its surprising how many times you can says scissors in a conversation!  But on our recent visit, I was ready for her and I had warned the teen, in fact I even challenged her to get my friend to say it. Then out of the blue, without warning, in the middle of a BBQ, over a bank holiday weekend, she said it. The teen snorted loudly and I spat out my mouthful of Proseco! We had to quickly make up a story about why we were laughing!

It seems I am not the only one concerned by this phenomenon. A few weeks ago the Guardian's hilarious Tim Dowling wrote about how his dentist says 'tuth' instead of 'tooth'. Personally, I would have to change dentists. And this week I had great sympathy for food writer Tim Hayward when he Tweeted.

'Yesterday's speed awareness trainer, Justin, pronounced 'specific' as 'pacific' 18 times in 4 hrs. I left the body near jct. 4 on the A505'.

I'll leave the last word to MAD's now deceased grandmother. 'Does anyone want some piTza'?

1 Comment

  • SazzyD says:

    My mother [born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was sent for elocution lessons and moved south for a fair while but back in the West Riding now] insists on saying WaitRose [splitting the T and R] and Ciabatta as Key-a-Batter. Think she does it now on purpose…

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