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July 14, 2010

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Although I live in Canada, I was originally from Somerset in the west country of England. A lot of the names in southern Ontario come from England - Exeter, London, Stratford, Cambridge, Wellington, Palmerston, Leamington, Essex, Windsor, etc. What I find interesting is that when I visit family in Somerset and Devon I hear many similar pronunciations to what I hear in souther Ontario. The West Country dialect is typically rhotic similar to southern Ontario.

It took me years to learn to say idea instead of "idear".

There are a couple of differences in place name pronunciation:

- Leamington (Ont = "leemington, English = "lemmington")
- Palmerston (Ont = "pammerston, English = "palmerston")
- Woolwich (Ont = Wool-wich, English = "wool-ich")

Shaun C February 21, 2011, 4:42am

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Re: "February 10th, 2011 by Alyson Draper
Is it really proper to say “I graduated high school,” or should it not be, “I graduated from high school?” Previously, I thought only rednecks were able to “graduate high school.”

Actually, I do not believe a true redneck would have reason to use either expression!

Shaun C February 21, 2011, 4:19am

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Not all "silent" letters are silent in all accents and dialects. For example, in Claudia's list I disagree with:

- d in fudge
- e in lime (without the e it rhymes with tim, with the e it rhymes with time)
- j in marijuana (it's a spanish word and 'ju' gives you the 'w' sound)
- l in balm (I say balm, not bam)
- q in lacquer (lac-ker)
- r in February (missing the r in February is sloppy pronunciation)
- v in fivepence (weird - the v in five is always pronounced.
- y in stray (without the y, it's just stra which rhymes with bra)

Claudia - with what accent or dialect do you speak?

Shaun C February 21, 2011, 4:12am

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There is one Americanisation that cracks me up whenever I hear it said - vehicle being pronounced as "vee-hickle". I was taught to say veer-kul....and yes I know it comes from the Latin "vehiculum". It still sounds funny! Right up there with the Canadian "fil-im" for film..

Shaun C February 8, 2011, 5:30pm

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Phonetic spelling of English is impossible because of the variations in pronounciations between the various accents. For example, I disagree with almost every example from Jm. To me girl = girl, saying = saying and name=name.

Unfortunately there are some absolutely horrendous accents in existance. I cannot foresee a time when we could ever reach agreement - we can't even agree on British v. American spellings!

Shaun C October 6, 2010, 7:37pm

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Chris says: "Regarding “marijuana”: you do pronounce the j… if you’re speaking Spanish. But this is English! I pronounce it “marowana”."

Yes, but the "ju" gives you the "w" - Juan is pronounced "wan"...the ju is not silent. Without the "ju", you would say "mari - ana" not "mari-wana.".

Shaun C October 1, 2010, 12:07pm

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I hear a lot of nouns used as personal hate is the misuse of "action". You can commit to an action, you can perform an action, but you do not "action something"!!! Everytime I hear that I want to slap someone in the head.

A close second is the misuse of dialogue. Why can't they just say they're going to talk or have a conversation rather than "dialogue each other"! Business Analysts and Project Managers...bah... they are the bain of English...

Shaun C September 29, 2010, 7:09pm

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How about Cirencester... I've heard it pronounced "sister" among others!

Bristol->bristle (local)

In southern Ontario and around Toronto you will hear "Tronna" or "Tronno". In a s. Ont village called Palmerston - for reasons unknown - it's locally pronouced as "pamerston". My mum says she can barely tell apart a Canadian 'd' from a Canadian 't'.

Marijuana doesn't actually have a silent J - it has a Spanish J - marihuana; 'ju' same as in Juan. Sometimes letters get added as well, my relatives back in Somerset usually call Canada "Canader".. I also heard Justin Lee Collins refer to Chicago as "Sher-cargo". Damn rhotics!

English will be a great language if we ever figure out how to spell it - or even agree on what to pronounce!

Shaun C September 29, 2010, 6:59pm

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These lists are problematic. Depending on your accent or dialect, letters may or may not be silent. In both of the lists submitted so far I can disagree with several entries. The definition of silent is also open to question - does a true silent letter have no bearing on the pronunciation or can it influence the pronunciation.

aisle - isle - I'll (silent 'a' and 's') - In some accents those are homophones and in others not.

Y: Malaysia - the 1st part of the name is "Malay" with the Y most definitely pronounced as in “Malay-sia”.

Words like 'game' do not have truly silent letters as the 'e' modifies the pronunciation of the 'a'. This is an argument that could go on ad infinitum. Some letters are silent as spellings have not kept up with the language.

Shaun C September 25, 2010, 4:59pm

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Ritchie - I'm located in southern Ontario in Canada. Approximately 100km southwest of Toronto.

Shaun C September 25, 2010, 4:47pm

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Chris - stick with English, using foreign words is cheating!

Shaun C September 25, 2010, 4:45pm

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Richie says: September 19, 2010 at 12:14 pmProbably any letter can be silent if you talk to the right people! (e.g. I don’t pronounce the “l” in “people”)

You don't???? So how do you pronounce people - "pee-po"??? I pronounce the word people as "pee-pul" - "l" is definity pronounced.

Shaun C September 24, 2010, 12:24pm

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The Turkish etymology is pretty far-fetched and unlikely. Somehow I doubt the ancient people were stupid enough to think they could hit the moon with an arrow!

From Wikipaedia - There are five proposed etymologies which have received material academic support since the 1960s. They are:

1.Greek words "Ola Kala" (??? ????) meaning "everything's good" or "all good"; used by Greek railroad workers in the United States. It is also said that "O.K." was written on the ships or other places to show that the ships are ready.
2.Initials of the "comically misspelled" Oll Korrect[6]
3.Initials of "Old Kinderhook" a nickname for President Martin Van Buren which was a reference to Van Buren's birthplace Kinderhook, NY.
4.Choctaw word okeh
5.Wolof and Bantu word waw-kay or the Mande (aka "Mandinke" or "Mandingo") phrase o ke

The Greek theory seems to be the most likely.

Shaun C September 24, 2010, 12:21pm

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Out of curiosity I passed Résumé though the Word spell check in the Queen's English (UK and Canada), Australian and American. Résumé passed all 4 spell checks.

"Résume" failed all 4 English spell checks, likewise "Resumé" failed all 4 spell checks. It would seem that Résumé correct in all 4 languages and the other permutations are errors in spelling. Resume of course means to take up a course of action that you had previously stopped.

I think the American aversion to the "é" is xenophobia. I have discovered over the years that Americans tend to avoid that which is different and belittle it. Trying saying "zed" in the US and the abuse you take. Anything that seems foreign is automatically insulted and deemed to be inferior. I have lived in both Canada and the United Kingdom and Résumé works - of course CV is the standard in the UK. In Canada CV tends to be limited to academic and medical circles.

Shaun C September 16, 2010, 6:09pm

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Peter Messervy - the initials CV definitely stand for Curriculum vitae. Your "chapter and verse" sounds like a "backronym" created by someone who wasn't quite sure what CV stood for - or they were pulling your leg!

The only time I've heard the phrase "chapter and verse" was watching Sharpe on television (the series based on the Bernard Cromwell books and starring Sean Bean).

Shaun C September 15, 2010, 11:33pm

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Hmmm...I'm thinking that popular usage of north vs. northern or east vs eastern comes down to rhythm. I have often thought that English when spoken by a native speaker has a rhythm (I cannot speak to other languages). Sometimes a word just ”sounds right”. Try saying “eastern Europe” vs. ”east Europe” –one phrase feels “right” and the other not. On the other hand North America and northern America both sound right – in this case it is just a matter of common practise.

Nobody has ever accused English of being a logical language!

Shaun C September 9, 2010, 11:13pm

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porsche - You say you haven't heard "mistle", but mistle = MISS-ul. Methinks it is just an interpretation of spelling. It still comes down to miss-ile vs. mistle (miss-ul).

Shaun C September 9, 2010, 11:03pm

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A few other pronunciation differences between Canadian and American I have noted:

dew – dyew vs. doo
duke – dyuke vs dook
missile – miss-sile vs mistle

Don’t even get me started on “zed” vs. “zee”!!!!

Shaun C September 3, 2010, 11:44pm

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Methinks many have not read the entirety of the thoughts behind Anglish. I do not think that it was intended to be nit-picky about replacing or purging all non-Anglo-Saxon from English. I believe the original intent was to use the Anglo-Saxon choice where it was practicable. Some words have anglo-saxon alternates and others do not.

I do not see "April showers bring May flowers" being replaced with "Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour"...somewhat wordy, puffed up and awkward by modern standards ...then again, politicians might like it.

Mind you, when listening to international football matches it seems the England fans are already yelling "Engelond" out loud..

Shaun C August 24, 2010, 12:42pm

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Re: “Mrs. Smith taught me and John” Personally, I would say that Mrs. Smith taught John and myself. I have always thought that English has a rhythm and you say what sounds correct!

Shaun C August 9, 2010, 7:31pm

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