31 Aug


3 not 2


"family" is a 3-syllable word, not 2

"company" is a 3-syllable word

"different" is a 3-syllable word

"difference" is a 3-syllable word

"favorite" is a 3-syllable word

"theater" is a 3-syllable word

"memory" is a 3-syllable word

"insurance" is a 3-syllable word

"medicine" is a 3-syllable word


Mispronunciation of these nine words always grates on my nerves…makes the hair on my neck stand out.


It's common suburban-mother-speak to extoll the virtues of "faamlee" in a whiney, shrill voice. Likewise the less-common "comp'ny" when talking about businesses. And to hear someone say "differnt" or "fave-ert" or "fave-rit" or "theeter" or "memry" is appalling. To hear Texans say "INshernce" is probably not surprising, however quirky. But hearing the Brits (gold standard English-speakers) pronounce "medcine" is very troubling.


They are all 3-syllable words; let's do our best to articulate…hear the syllables in proper pronunciation. "What is a syllable?" you ask. Dictionary definition below for your convenience; even though it doesn't help my understanding — and probably doesn't do much for yours, either!


Take particular note of the television commercials for products made by SC Johnson, a household products company in Wisconsin. The audio sting at the end of each spot says, "SC Johnson, a family company," often mispronouncing BOTH of our target words.



a unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants, forming the whole or a part of a word; e.g., there are two syllables in water and three in inferno.


About Grammar Nazi

Marketing specialist focusing on concept development for new products and services. University degree in editorial journalism. Major corporate and brand experience with one of the world's largest and best advertising agencies.
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


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