You’ve heard it from your mother and your boss, “It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that matters.” Never is this adage more important than in business, when your professional image is on the line. This is especially true when it comes to pronunciation.
Mispronunciation or a lack of enunciation can affect the way people perceive you. Certain words can easily be mangled in the course of conversation, making those who mispronounce them appear unsophisticated. Even the word pronunciation is often mispronounced (it’s not per-nunciation, but pro-nunciation).
Are you guilty of any of the following?
- Iced tea vs. “icetee.” When ordering a glass of iced tea, enunciate. “Iced” and “tea” are two distinct words. Make a point to emphasize the “-ed” at the end of the word ice.
- Internet vs. “Inner-net.” Enunciating the “t” sound distinguishes the word from a net that is sitting inside a larger object, the “inner-net”.
- Going, not “goin” – “Goin” is one letter off from the correct pronunciation.
- Library, not “li-berry.” The library is a building, not a fruit.
- Especially, not “ex-specially.” Focus on pronouncing the “s” to correctly say this word. It’s a small, but noticeable difference.
- Ask, not “aks – ax” – “Ask” is a question, articulating the letter “s”. “Ax” is something you use to cut down trees.
- Atlanta , not “Alanna”. Atlanta is a beautiful city, while “Alanna” is a pretty girl’s name,
- Business, not “bidness”. It is imperative to pronounce this word correctly, especially if you own or work for a large business.
- Candidate: “can-di-dayt,” not “can-ih-dayt”. If you are talking politics at a corporate function, stand out in positive light by saying this word correctly.
- February, not “Febuary”. That “r” is easy to ignore when you say it, but hard to overlook when you hear it.
- Realtor: “Reel-ter,” not “Ree-la-ter”. Even among realtors, the jury is out on “Real-ter” versus “Real-tor,” but it’s agreed upon by both that it’s not “Real-a-ter” Don’t add an extra vowel where one isn’t necessary.
- “For all intents and purposes,” not “for all intensive purposes.” Even the most articulate speakers misuse this term. Use the correct phrase and stand out from the rest.
- Regardless, not irregardless. “Regardless” means without regard. If there is no regard, there can’t possibly be any less regard, so there’s no need to add the “irr”.
- Moot, not mute. A moot point is an unresolved or debatable idea. The definition of mute is a person without the ability of speech, or to quiet a noise.
- It’s espresso, not “ex-presso”. If you meet a client for cup of gourmet coffee, you definitely want to get this right.
- Probably, not “Prob-lee”. Make every effort to pronounce all the syllables in this word.
- Could have, not “could of”. This is not only a popular mispronunciation, but also translates into incorrect writing.
- Miniature, not “mini-ture”. “Min-ee-ah-chur” is the correct pronunciation.
- You vs. “y’all” or “you guys.” Many people seem to be uncomfortable with the plural form of “you” standing alone, distinguishing it from the singular form by using “y’all” in the southern United States and “you guys” elsewhere. If you want to stand out as a professional it’s important to get comfortable with the plural “you.” Practice makes almost perfect!
Take as much time to develop your pronunciation skills as you do your favorite hobby. Both will bring you numerous future benefits.