Monday, October 06, 2008

Sine qua non

Something new learned today: while writing the earlier post about parish church registers, I used the phrase sine qua non.

Which I have been mis-pronouncing all of my life: I had thought it to be "seen-kwa-known." Instead, it is "seenay kwaa non."

Much of my education has been book-directed, rather than classroom, or teacher-directed. This is an example of a problem with such a learning method. Words need someone to show us how to pronounce them.

A common mistake (well, not that common; I always overestimate how many people think about or ponder such topics) is pronouncing the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. The older Latin alphabet spelling was "Ulan Bator," and virtually everyone (myself included) wanted to pronounce it "ooh-lan-bah-TOR," while the correct version (learned, thankfully, just prior to going to the city) is "ooh-LAHN-BA-ter."

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