We’ve all come across words that when read quickly can appear to have one pronunciation, but in fact have a totally different one, because the wrong one shows that the structure of the word has been misread. Two famous such words are “misled” and “underfed”, pronounced /ËˆmaÉªzÉ™ld/ and /ÊŒnËˆdÉœËft/ respectively. Because they look like perfectly well-formed past tenses, small children may well misinterpret the division of these words into their constituent parts as ‘misle’ and ‘underf’ + past marker, instead of ‘mis’+’lead’ and ‘under’+’feed’.
Well, I was surprised this morning to hear the well-respected Julie Meyer, CEO and founder of Ariadne Capital, say on the “Today” programme, that the reputation of the banking industry had gone /ËˆÉ”Ëri/. Again, the word is a perfectly well formed adverb or adjective, like many others that end in ‘-y’, but it has nothing to do with ‘awe’: the structure is ‘a’+’wry’.