I drive an unusual make of car. It’s becoming more popular, but as it’s not a western european make, it’s got a pronunciation no-one expects from the spelling. Randomly recently, a client, as part of a point she was making, asked me what car I drove and I told her the make. It took her a while to understand the car I meant because of the spelling/pronunciation issue. It was an odd moment where I wasn’t sure whether to be explicit about the car (spelling it) etc or just hope that she got it (which she did after a couple of tries). But it made me think about some other clients I’ve had in the past, and a similar issue I have as a patient at my GP. Being the lucky owner of a chronic condition, I take a medication daily. Without it, I wouldn’t be working, or doing much of anything. But again, it’s unusual in spelling (not anything out of the ordinary for mediations – they’re all pretty odd!). I always always struggle to order the repeat, because I and the receptionist do not pronounce the medication the same way. I have just discovered (through google) that actually, neither I, nor ANY of the receptionists I’ve spoken to, have ever got that pronunciation right. But in my case it’s a two minute phone call and I can go away again.


In the case of some clients they will talk about medication conditions, or medications, and their pronunciation of those will differ from mine significantly; sometimes it’s down to a regional accent, sometimes it’s down to a misunderstanding (theirs OR mine) about what the generally accepted pronunciation is, and sometimes there is more than one accepted pronunciation (potato/potato etc). But it’s hard. and that feels strange to say. It’s a word. But on the one hand, I feel like I am not being congruent if I pronounce it the client’s way, and on the other hand I worry about the possibly of looking like I’m passing judgement by saying it my way. Thus far I’ve mostly avoided this by not directly referring to the client’s word, but it does feel like that might have to change soon. Do I yet know what I’m going to do? no…

2 thoughts on “words

  1. Paul Colley says:

    When I’ve been tripped up by pronunciation, I end up on the fabulous Forvo.com site (and have passed on my fascination to clients). The great thing about it is its participative, crowdsourced nature. Makes you realise diversity comes in aural form too.

    There are some pronunciations – ee-ther / eye-ther – where it doesn’t bother me either way. But others are just too much to bear – like gay-ler instead of gar-ler (for gala). I’d have to find a synonym rather than use the former, even if it was the client’s way. And then find some way to say http://goo.gl/vRggSO.

    • Meep says:

      Ooh. Thanks for the url 🙂 yes- synonyms are good things, definitely! It’s a lesson to me that difference is everywhere- I recognise it in overall accents but less so (til recently) in specific words.

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