Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chester Drawers and Other Mispronunciations

Writing about Chester Drawer made me think about how funny the English language is.  My friend John, a native North Carolinian, admitted that he spent roughly the first twelve years of his life thinking that "chest of drawers" was in fact pronounced "Chester Drawers."  After hearing John's brave confession, I was reminded of a sportscaster with whom I used to work.  He's a great guy who loves sports, but it drove me up the wall when he misspoke a particular phrase.  You know the phrase "for all intents and purposes"?  Well, Mr. Sports said, "for all intentional purposes"! Even after being corrected several times, he continued to say it this way.  Why?

It made me think of my own foibles with the English language:  I was in fourth grade when I discovered that supposed  was not spelled sposed, as in "He's sposed to call me tonight!"  In John's case and my case, we were children growing up in the south who were simply listening to the way in which others around us were speaking.  To a certain extent, we are the products of our environments*.  Luckily, common sense and higher education prevailed.  As for Mr. Sports, well, I think he was just stubborn.  (By the way, he's also from the south.)

A Google search of Chester Drawers led to a couple of discoveries, one interesting, one scary.  The interesting one is a library (not libary) of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.  In addition to the beloved Chester Drawers, the list includes classics such as artic (instead of arctic), supposably (instead of supposedly), and - my personal favorite - doggy dog world (instead of dog-eat-dog world).  It seems as if most of these mistakes are made by people from the south, so I wonder if these are colloquial.  Irregardless, it was fun to read this list and think back to my childhood and how happy I am to have escaped it relatively unscathed.

The scary discovery I made while searching Chester Drawers is that a person named Chester Drawers actually exists.  Well, it's the name of a character played by a children's author, but still.  While I was too scared to investigate his entire website, I did notice a couple of instances where he misused commas on his homepage.  I hope the children he visits in schools don't visit his website and think that's the correct way to write.  

*I agonized over whether to type products of our environments or product of our environment.  I went with the plural because the subject is we.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good read Susan. Your friend John sounds like a cool guy. ;)