I don’t think I knew what a whore actually was

The other day I boasted to the Internet about how I spelled perpetuity correctly on the first try. When you live alone and don’t leave the house much you boast about all kinds of minor victories. Besides, I was proud. I’m an abysmal speller and my typing skills aren’t anything to brag about.

So yay perpetuity.

Then my “friend” Josh decided to rain on my parade snarking, “It’s pretty much spelled like it sounds.” As if that’s a solid go-to rule when it comes to spelling. And besides, I said, he was making the assumption that I knew how to pronounce it.

For the record, I can pronounce it. But there’s a lot of words I can’t pronounce, or thought I could pronounce until I heard them correctly. I still distinctly remember the day I heard my ninth grade English teacher, Ms. Marquette, say the word melancholy out loud. If such things were to happen in real life, a giant light bulb would have went off over my head.

Why I had decided it had a soft ch sound (like cheese) instead of a hard ch sound (like, oh, my last name — Chromey and incidentally it drives me bananas when someone pronounces it Ch-row-me with the cheese sound instead of Crow-me), is beyond me. While I still think my pronunciation me-LAN-cholly sounds more melodic, I have loved melancholy and all it’s hard ch-ness ever since.

I was relaying this tale of melancholy to Jaycie and Max last week. The three of us were snugly crammed into the backseat of Sister #2’s Civic on our way to Rock&Roll Bookclub in St. Paul. They were listening to MPR and one of the commentators said circuitous.

“Oh, I love that word,” I said.
“Why?” Jaycie asked.

Then I told her about my poli sci prof who used it and how it was the first time that I could remember someone using a word that I didn’t know. At all. Like never even heard of.

Somehow this segued into discovering the correct pronunciation of hors d’oeuvres. For a very large portion of my life (perhaps into my 20s) I thought it was pronounced whores-de-orvs.

Of course my use of the word whores caused both Jaycie and Max to die laughing. In fact, they thought whores-de-orvs was funnier than their mom’s mispronunciation, “horsey-dervys.”

“How could you think that?” Max asked.
“Well, I don’t think I ever had hors d’oeuvres until I was in college. And I read books much beyond my age level when I was a kid. I had no idea the word was even French.”
“Say it again.” Jaycie said.
“Whores -de-orvs.”

I think they laughed about it all the way from 494 to 35E to 94 to White Bear Ave. That’s a long time to laugh, and it’s exactly why spelling perpetuity on the first try is a victory.

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8 Comments

  1. FS 30.Jan.11 at 8:02 pm

    Fair enough, I gave you too much credit-I thought as a professional wordsmith, you would know how to pronounce perpetuity.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 30.Jan.11 at 8:07 pm

      @FS,
      I do know how to pronounce it. But not all words are spelled the way they sound. In fact, I’d say more words are not spelled how they sound than are.

      Reply
  2. Kevin Fenton 31.Jan.11 at 8:50 am

    When I was in tenth grade, I proudly pronounced “omnipotent” “Om-NIGH-Poe-Tent” much to the amusement of the two people in the class who knew how it should actually be pronounced. And because i was clueless, I pronounced that incorrect “nigh” with with a special hillbilly glee which will now allow them to mock me in perpetuity.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 31.Jan.11 at 10:04 am

      @Kevin Fenton,
      Ouch. I had a similar high school situation but with the word “impotent.” I pronounced it im-POE-tent and was promptly busted by Rob the boy I had a crush on and my co-editor of the student newspaper.

      Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing?

      Reply
  3. NBFB 31.Jan.11 at 1:06 pm

    Henry and I use whores-de-vors, also somtimes horse-diapers. And we say snash-snash, in place of soy sauce. I have no idea why.

    Reply
  4. Tyson Perna 02.Feb.11 at 6:32 am

    I still remember hearing placate pronounced aloud. For some reason, I’d always pronounced it ‘plasate’ in my head.

    Reply
  5. Muuurph 16.Feb.11 at 11:02 am

    My da’ says “Horses Ovaries” for hors d’oeuvres, but that’s on purpose, just to be an ass.

    For the record NPR is spelled exactly as it sounds, not “MPR”.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 16.Feb.11 at 11:03 am

      @Muuurph,
      Yes, but Minnesota Public Radio is spelled MPR.

      Reply

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