Which do you say? Behind the age-old word debates

Hannah Kloppman, Staff Writer

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Have you ever argued with your friend over whether its “carmel” or “caramel,” or have you ever wondered if you were actually saying “figure” correctly? Well, we set out to put an end to your debating.

Below are the results of a survey of students and staff of Mayfield Middle School, in which they were asked to pronounce 12 words and to identify 3 pictures.

 

“Gif” vs “Jif”

48% of participants pronounced GIF with a J sound

50% of participants pronounced GIF with a g sound

2% of participants (1 person) pronounced GIF saying G.I.F.

Though it was close, the pronunciation of GIF with a G lead by one person. Although the survey displayed the majority of people saying “gif,” Steve Wilhite, creator of GIFs, said that GIF was meant to be pronounced with a J sound.

Regardless of this, people continue to debate this, as seen in an article titled “The creator of GIF says it’s pronounced JIF. He is wrong” by Gizmode.com.  The writer argues that if the creator of GIF wanted to make the pronunciation “jif” he should have called if JIF instead of GIF.

One of the only alternate pronunciations of the entire survey came from this word, with Ignite eighth grader Lana Vistan pronouncing the word by spelling out its letters, G.I.F.

“Just because peanut butter has the same name doesn’t mean it cant be called that!” says Hele eighth grader Nassim Aidja. “People who say gif are dumb,” rebutted Revolution eighth grader Anthony Brack.

“Newtella” vs “Nutella”

82% of participants pronounced Nutella as “New-tella”

18% of participants pronounced Nutella as “Nut-ella”

The survey results display that the vast majority of participants say “Nootella” instead of “Nutella”.

According to the Food Network, “Turns out the first syllable of Nutella is not pronounced ‘nut’ but rather ‘newt’.” In addition, in commercials for Nutella show that the product is intended to be pronounced with a “newt” sound. At least, this is true of America. Different parts of the world like Britain often pronounce Nutella differently.

“I understand that its official name is Nutella,” commented Hele teacher Mrs. Saunders, who uses the pronunciation”Nut-ella”, “but as a language arts teacher I phonetically cannot get on board with that, because it’s made with nuts, not newts.”

Nutella commercial displaying the pronunciation “New-tella”

“Often” vs “Ofen”

18% of participants pronounced often “Off-en”

82% of participants pronounced often “Oft-en”

Despite clear results that survey participants favored the pronunciation in which the “T” is pronounced, many dictionary sites such as the Merriam Webster and Oxford Dictionary.com say that often is pronounced without a “T” sound, similar to words like “soften” and “listen.”

“Figer” vs “Figure”

24% of participants pronounced figure “fig-er”

82% of participants pronounced figure “fig-yer”

According to dictionary.cambridge.org, the correct pronunciation for figure in the United States is “fig-yer” while in the UK it’s often pronounced “fig-er.”

“Envelope” vs “Onvelope”

87% of participants pronounced envelope “En-vel-ope”

13% of participants pronounce envelope “On-vel-ope”

Everybody wins here; Oxford Dictionary.com states that both pronunciations are correct.

“Carmel” vs “Caramel”

82% of participants pronounced caramel “car-mel”

18% of participants pronounced caramel “car-a-mel”

According to grammarly.com, “Carmel and caramel are not are not different spellings of the same word. Caramel is the correct spelling if you’re talking about food or colors. Carmel is a misspelling when used in those contexts, but a word that can be used as a name for people or places.”

Hele 8th grader Lex Schneier stated while being surveyed that it made him “so angry” when people said “car-a-mel”.

“Museum” vs “Musam”

92% of participants pronounced museum “muse-eum”

8% of participants pronounced museum “mus-aum”

This pronunciation was brought to the Wildcat Voice’s attention by writer Katie Leskovec, who swears that “mus-aum” is the correct pronunciation. She says of the overwhelming results in favor of “muse-eum” “I understand that many people disagree with me, but I am right and you are wrong. Always.”

“Pajamas” vs “Pajawmas”

66% of participants pronounced pajamas as “pa-jam-as”

34% of participants pronounced pajamas as “pa-jaw-mas”

“Rawmen” vs “Raymen” noodles

89% of participants pronounced Ramen as “raw-men”

11% of participants pronounced Ramen as “ray-men”

“Syrup” vs “Seerup”

66% of participants pronounced syrup as “sir-up”

34% of participants pronounced syrup as “seer-up”

“Ant” vs “Auhant”

55% of participants pronounced aunt as “ant”

34% of participants pronounced aunt as “auhnt”

Lightning Bug vs Firefly

After being shown this image…

66% of participants identified this as a lightning bug

34% of participants identified this as a firefly

Interestingly, the ratio of “lightning bug” to “firefly” was much different among adults. Under 10% of the adults surveyed said “firefly” while among students, 38% did.

Soda vs Pop

After being shown this image…

29% of participants identified this as soda.

71% of participants identified this as pop.

 

Whether you say soda or pop likely depends on where you live. As reflected in the results, people in Ohio mostly say “pop.”

Backpack vs Book bag

After being shown this image,

58% of participants identified this as a backpack.

42% identified this as a book bag.