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Education is a cross I must bear

A recent TV commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America is making me cringe and is killing CTCA’s credibility. With me, anyway. The man talking about his treatment speaks of “prosate” cancer. No, no, no! It’s prostate. There’s another “t” in there. You’d think an institution specializing in cancer would, at the very least, include the correct name of the disease. Their next commercial will probably feature a woman talking about her “masectomy.” Every time I hear that I have to bite my tongue. It’s mastectomy. Always has been; always will be. Come on, people. It’s not like you’re trying to pronounce esthesioneuroblastoma. 

6 Comments »

  1. Ha! Someone just chastised me for dropping the ‘g’ in unwittingly. I said, “Come on, you knew what I meant, right?”

    But, you are two are correct. At some point, the point doesn’t get across. 🙂

    • Being from Oklahoma, I have a tendency to drop those terminal g’s myself, so I never confront others about their pronunciation. “People in glass houses” and all that. But I hear “masectomy” so often, it’s become a real pet peeve with me. The other is “asterik” instead of “asterisk.” It’s a curse, I tell ya, having been an editor for so long. A curse.

  2. Hi PT– haven’t caught the ‘missing T’ commercial, yet. Agree with you about mastectomy– even hospital staffers! How about: birt-thay (birthday) & aks (ask)?

  3. Pronunciation is a touchy subject, something I learned the hard way way back in college in a conversation with one of my roommates. He had used the word “subtle” in conversation and he pronounced the “b”. I couldn’t help myself, I said the “b” was silent, so it was pronounced like “suttle”. We went back and forth until he actually got irate about it, going to a couple of dictionaries until he found one that said pronouncing the “b” was actually an acceptable alternate. He said triumphantly. The argument actually had a lasting effect on our friendship. A subtle one, but an effect nevertheless. (I see no such alternate in my computer dictionary now, btw, nor in the Merriam Webster.)

    How can such a tiny thing become so important? I think it carries implications about innate tribalism as well as level of education (just as you said, PT). Saying that someone mispronounces something may imply that their education is defective or that you and they are culturally different. It’s one of those suttle things.

    • Heh, yes, it’s a subtle thing, and while I constantly cringe at what seem to me to be mispronunciations, I never correct anyone. Too many people take offense and consider you rude, arrogant, or worse for doing so. I learned my lesson with my ex mother-in-law once when she said “remuneration” and I said I thought it was “renumeration.” She got really irate, interrupted the conversation to go get a dictionary to prove I was wrong (I was, of course), and lorded it over me for years after that. She made an ugly federal case out of a casual comment.

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” ― Isaac Asimov

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