Saturday, October 12, 2013

Our Lady of Perpetual Mispronunciation

I recently had a minor medical process done at a clinic connected to a hospital near my home – Perpetual Succor.

I was struck by the use of the word ‘Succor’ – there are many Catholic institutions in the US with basically the same name, but it is always, in my experience, expressed as Perpetual Help (generally some variant of ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help’).

But that was not the only linguistic oddity, from my viewpoint. The strangest thing for me is the pronunciation of perpetual, because the Filipinos have the strange idea that it should be pronounced as it is spelled.

I (and most Americans I know) generally pronounce the word as three (or maybe three and a half) syllables, with a ‘ch’ sound thrown in. We say per-pet-ch’-wal (sometimes running the last two sounds together: per-pet-chwal).

I was very confused when my doctor told me where the clinic was – he pronounced the word with four quite distinct syllables: per-pet-oo-al. I generally don’t get much into right/wrong arguments over different countries’ pronunciation of English – I’ll leave that to the Brits. But I have to admit that the Filipinos have a strong case that they have this one right.

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