( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Your personality is revealed not only by the quality of your voice and by your enunciation, but also by the way you pronounce words. Like every other aspect of speech, pronunciation is a habit, built up through repetition.
If you have mispronounced a word a great many times, your pronunciation sounds correct to you. In order to substitute the habit of correct pronunciation, you must speak the word correctly enough times to train your ear to accept the new pronunciation, and to accustom your speech organs to making the correct sounds automatically.
Whenever you hear a cultured person pronounce a word differently from the way in which you do, consult your dictionary. If you find you were wrong, repeat the word aloud until you have impressed the correct pronunciation firmly upon your mind.
You will also find reading aloud helpful, if you learn the correct pronunciation of every word that is unfamiliar or that causes you to falter in your reading. Keep an authoritative dictionary of recent date conveniently at hand and use it constantly. Gradually you will form the habit of pronouncing words correctly and at the same time you will acquire greater poise and self-confidence.
Test Yourself on These Words
The course Practical English and Effective Speech contains more than five hundred words that are frequently mispronounced. A few of these are given below so that you may determine for yourself whether your pronunciation of common words is acceptable. You should be able to pronounce every one of these thirty words correctly. The capitalized syllable is to be accented.
1. forehead—not FORE-head, but FOR-ed (o as in hot; e as in met; the h is not sounded).
2. coupon—not KEW-pon, but KOO-pon (oo as in cool; o as in on).
3. dirigible—not der-IJ-ibl, but DIR-i-ji-bl (all i's as in it).
4. column—not KOL-yum, but KOL-um (o as in cot; u as in up; do not insert ay sound).
5. err—not AIR, but ER to rhyme with her.
6. library—not LIE-bear-i, but LIE-brer-i (first i as in high; e as in met; second i as in it; sound both r's).
7. experiment—not ek-SPEAR-a-mint, but eks-PER-i-ment (all three e's as in met; i as in it).
8. recuperate—not re-KOOP-er-ate, but re-KEW-per-ate (first e as in me; KEW to rhyme with pew; per to rhyme with her).
9. orgy—not OR-gi, but OR-ji (OR to rhyme with for; i as in it).
10. gratis—not GRAT-is, but GRAY-tis (a as in ate; i as in it).
11. aviator—not AV-i-a-ter, but AY-vi-a-ter (both a's as in ate; i as in in).
12. quintuplets—not kwin-TUP-lets, but KWIN-tew-plets (i as in in; TEW to rhyme with few).
13. been—not BEN, nor (in America) BEAN, but BIN.
14. horizon—not HOR-i-zon, but ho-RI-zon (first o as in obey; i as in ice; second o as in on).
15. chiropodist—not shi-ROP-o-dist, but ki-ROP-o-dist (first i as in ice; first o as in hot; second o as in no; second i as in it).
16. comparable—not kom-PARE-a-bl, but KOM-pa-ra-bl (o as in hot; both a's as in sofa).
17. syringe—not si-RINJ, but SIR-inj (both i's as in it).
18. naphtha—not NAP-tha but NAF-tha (the first syllable ends in ph pronounced as if it were f ).
19. evening—not E-ven-ing, but EVE-ning.
20. height—not HITE-th, but HITE.
21. Italian—not eye-TAL-yun, but i-TAL-yan (the first i as in it).
22. larynx—not LAHR-nix, but LAR-ingks (a as in at).
23. table d'hbte—not table de HO-ty, but TAH-bl-DOTE (a as in ask or as in father; o as in no).
24. khaki—not KACK-y, but KAH-ki (a as in father; i as in it).
25. epitome—not EP-a-tome, but e-PIT-o-me (both e's as in emit; i as in it; o as in omit).
26. architect—not ARCH-i-tekt, but AR-ki-tekt.
27. grimy—not GRIM-i, but GRIME-i (first i as in lie).
28. massage—not ma-SADJ, but ma-SAZH.
29. longevity—not long-JEV-i-ti, but lon-JEV-i-ti (o as in on; e as in met; both i's as in it).
30. hysteria—not hiss-TAIR-i-a, but hiss-TEER-i-a (TEER to rhyme with here; both i's as in it).