Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pain in the Kneck

My dad sometimes mispronounces words. 

He does it on purpose.  To be cute or funny.

For example, the other day he and I we went out for pizza.  I was talking about getting a new checking account, and he suggested that I sign up for an account at TD Bank.  Except he pronounces it “Tiddy Bank,” or more closely, “Titty Bank.”

I would overlook this if we were alone, but there were other people around.  Some of whom glanced in our direction (or at least in my imagination they did).

“Dad, I wish you wouldn’t call it that in public,” I scolded.

“What?  Titty Bank?”

“Not so loud!  People are going to think you are talking about a strip club or something.”

He also pronounces various other places and things wrong on purpose.  He adds an extra syllable to “Acme” supermarket so that it sounds more like “Ackame.” 

Additionally, my parents live in a town called Newtown Square – a town which is impossible to mispronounce:

New. Town. Square. 

Any second grader would be unimpressed.

Yet, my dad often calls it “Newton Square,” like the place where cookies made out of figs might be produced.

It’s his thing.  I get it.

But the danger about his name-changes is when he only pronounces these things incorrectly.  When his made-up versions of the words become a permanent part of his vernacular.  It worries me that he will mispronounce the town he lives in to a group of neighbors who don’t understand that he is trying to be funny.

Or even worse than embarrassing himself, he might embarrass his kids…

Which leads me to another example.

When my sisters and I were growing up, one of my dad’s teaching tools, I guess, was to defy conventional English standards and enunciate silent K’s.  By this, I mean that he wouldn’t call it a “knee.”  He would call it a “ka-knee.”  And he wouldn’t “knock” on our doors before he came in.  He would “ka-knock.”

But for whatever reason, he included a “K” in the word “neck.”  Our “necks” didn’t hold our heads up.  Our “ka-necks” did.

Don’t ask.

Now let’s flash forward a decade or two and take a peek at one of my oldest sister’s college papers in which she spells “neck” with a “K.”

That’s right.  She called it a “kneck” all the way until the middle of college, when a friend who was reading one of her papers caught the error and finally put an end to K’s impressively long reign over her version of “neck.”

Perhaps my favorite part of this story is the fact that her friend found this error after my sister had already received the paper back from the professor, who had not circled the word and put a giant question mark above it, as one would assume a professor who reads his students’ papers would. 

And I suppose that a history of lazy teachers is more to blame than my father for it taking so long for her to learn how to properly spell the word.

It makes me wonder if I have a “kneck.” 

Not a “neck.”  I know I have one of those because it was once touched by a ghost.

What I wonder is if I have some egregious error that nobody has had the care, time, or courage to stick their necks out to tell me about, if you’d be so kind as to ignore my blatant corniness.

I don’t really get another set of eyes to read what I write before I hit “publish.”  And I suppose that this is somewhat of a risky move.  Months after publishing a post, I have noticed errors.  Most recently, I mixed up “illicit” and “elicit.” 

I know what you are thinking: Tsk, tsk, Youngman.

Now, some things I don’t care about.  For example, I find it to be extremely distracting when one uses the perfect grammar to talk to one’s audience.  It makes it clear that he or she is making a concerted effort to talk to his or her audience as if they are a part of British Parliament. 

So I say “you” when I am not supposed to.  It’s just the way people talk and I could care less if it is grammatically incorrect.  You know?

I am talking about some major, glaringly painful error that should have been corrected years ago.

I suppose that I should get a writing buddy.  Perhaps a fellow blogger with whom I can exchange work.  Someone who can proofread my writing and squash any of my possible “knecks” before they become public knowledge.

But until then, I suppose that I will have to count on you, my dear readers, to be on the lookout for any major mistake in my writing that my dad might have caused.

If you happen to notice one, please let me ka-know.

-Youngman Brown


  1. I think we all have a 'kneck'. For a long time, mine was 'definately'. 'Unfortunately' ruined it for me.

    1. I think "definately" is a typo for a lot of people, so don't feel too bad.

  2. I never proofread my work which is odd because it bothers me when I make a mistake. I then read the post later to find out that I made roughly 40 errors and think to myself, "All those people who read the post probably think I'm dumb as a rock."

    Especially when I write at work because the computers don't have spell check which means I have to do all the work. Lame.

    Hilarious post, though.

    1. Ditto, I do all my reading, writing and commenting at work also and later find I've left out words, not too much misspelling (red squiggley lines, ack). I've trained myself to read everything correctly and not how its typed because i know a lot of people who really don't have grammar skills. You don't have anything to worry about.

  3. Very funny! Actually, painfully funny because my husband does something similar to your dad and it drives me crazy. I keep telling him if he continually and purposely mispronounces words, people will think he's stupid. He just laughs. :-/

  4. My mom says ‘pacifically’ instead of ‘specifically’ and I’m always telling her the right way. She also, like 50% of Americans, says ‘warsh’ instead of ‘wash’. This makes me bonkers! So I typed ‘kneck’ into spellcheck and got ‘knack, knock, knick, keck’ and ‘neck’ as replacement words. So I’m sure you don’t have a ka-kneck. Sorry.

    1. Aw, being from Pittsburgh, my grandparents used to say "warsh."

  5. Your dad and mine ought to hang. The sad part is he teaches college now that he is retired, and I can only imagine what his students must think. Thank goodness it's only white collar crime & accounting and not English. Hilarious essay!

    1. Haha my dad is a teacher too, but math.

  6. Oh I love those cringe worthy sayings parents have. My mom still uses the word grody. We will be having a normal non-valley girl conversation (is there even still such a thing as a valley girl?) and I'll be thinking wow that's disgusting and wait for it, ah here it comes grody. If I remember the word was used for maybe 1 week way back when I was in grade 7 and it is forever imprinted in my mothers vocabulary.

  7. I could care less about grammar and punctuation on my blog, I only care about spelling. I type upwards of 90 wpm so I'm bound to make mistakes and I don't care. I just fix them when I can.

    Also, your whole interaction with your dad reminds me of me and my mother, only reversed. We'd be in a store and I'd yell, "Dad, get _______!" and my mom would be mortified that people were looking at me. I'd be like, "We don't know these people. Who cares what they think?" I can imagine your dad thinks the same when you shush him. :)

  8. You're so funny. I think everyone likes to have fun with the English language. My father passed that language down to me also but I do spell the words correctly. I've been known to use ka-nock and ka-neck on occasion because its just, well fun and I don't care what people think either. Love your dad.

    Target - Target' (spoken french like)
    K-mart - Oscar de la K-mart
    Isle of Capri is Isle of Debris here at work and the list could fill up pages.

    Great post though. You made me think fondly of my deceased father today and I thank you for that.

  9. That is funny. My Mom has her own command of the English language, except she isn't trying to be funny. She says "festibal" instead of "festival", "hamburg" instead of "hamburger" and all sorts of other variations of words.

  10. So my family has had those words in their vernacular too! When I was growing up I would try to correct my grandmother who pronounced spatula as spuutoola. I have even been guilty of calling pancakes panackies. It was funny when the short people were shorter, but now it is only allowed in the confines of my kitchen, not even the dining room!

  11. I'm a grammar hound, yet I write reviews and articles at

    I just call it 'eden fanta-sis' to be an ass.

  12. I am notorious for switching between 1st & 3rd person, horrible grammar, and general poor sentence structure. Why? I do not edit. *gasp* I know, horrors, but I dont. I have a message or story to birth and once I do that's it. I rarely re-read or look over it for exactly the reasons you mentioned- I'd probably not see it anyway.

    PS. I laughed out loud reading this because I, like your parents, live in Newtown Square and telemarketers etc always say Newton and it drives me CRAZY! Almost makes me want to move back to Havertown...then again they F'd that one up too! *le sigh*

  13. I wonder how many common usage words we have these days we can attribute to misspellings, typos, jokes, and weird pronunciations over the generations...

  14. Haha! I love the sound of your dad.
    The Lil hates the fact that I add 'age' at the end of certain words, so boob becomes 'boobage', or ton becomes 'tonage'. Thus leading him to the conclusion, that I am a word beginning with 're' and ending in 'tard'.

  15. Never got anything like that from my parents, just my own fertile mind. When I was about 12 years old I had two pairs of "Mudd" brand jeans. I thought that was how you spelled the word until senior year of high school, when a teacher corrected it on an essay question. :(

    1. Aw, at least you didn't mess up playskool.

  16. My dad was insane about correcting my grammar but did do one embarrassing thing. Whenever we had a BBQ, he insisted on everyone having a penis colada instead of pina colada; every BBQ without fail. He thought it was hysterical. So embarrassing.

  17. Youngman,

    Great post. You ka-nailed it.

    Here is my verbal/ virtual weakness: I like to say "couple times" or "couple days" or "couple cookies" instead of "couple of cookies." As in, "She only ate a couple of cookies, so she is not full yet." But I would cavalierly omit the "of" because when I talk, I do not use that (obtrusive/ extraneous) "of."

    I've had people correct me a couple times.


  18. My grandma and your dad would have gotten along. She was constantly saying a phrase along the lines of: "The 'k' is silent, like in 'knife.'" Except she'd use a word that didn't actually have a "k" in it. Everyone knew that she was just kidding, but she finally had to stop when my aunt tried to make the same joke at school.

    "The 'k' is silent, you know, like in refridgerator."

    The teacher wasn't so pleased.

  19. Good one, Youngman. I've got your back ;)

  20. Ok, don't get mad...I read NewTown Square as Newton Square. I had to go back a few sentences to understand your point. LOL

    P.S. I will no longer call TD Bank by it's real name. hahaha

  21. You ka-can't imaging what ka-kind of effect(*) misssspelllings and erorrs have on readers. But I know that a Chick-ka-fill-ah sangwich well ka-cure all that ales you.

    Totally random, I just wanted to say Chick-ka-fill-ah...


  22. Don't get me started about Pa-Neumonia...

  23. Mine was 'aloud' for a long time, because I didn't know that there was another version of it: 'allowed' so I would just use the former all of the time. It lasted for ages because teachers would just put a red line under it, and not the word I should have used, so I still didn't know what I was doing wrong! I know now, though :)

  24. My dad just plain used to like to make up words, so imagine my surprise when I'd write about a 'goo-gad' like it was common knowledge and my teacher would ask what the hell is this?

  25. I like to make up words too! I don't know if my husband wants to strangle me over some of them or not. I also don't speak/write properly and agree with you that doing so makes you sound all British.

    I try to proofread my posts (and my comments) before posting, but sometimes I'm blind to my own mistakes (until days later. It's like I have to step away from whatever I wrote to be able to actually see it). So, don't worry about any mistakes you make. Hey - you're human... Right?

  26. I usually come to your side of the blogosphere to see how to do things the right way, but I will be on the lookout for any inherited mistakes.

    I like your dad's kitchy (sp?) style. I like to transposition syllables to mix words up. Like Cracker Barrel becomes Backer Crarrel and so on. Hardly anyone gets it when I first say something like it. Fun stuff!

  27. In college, a friend decided my nickname would be Newt. Only, it would start with a silent K. And that K would be pronounced. Thus, to her, I will always be Ka-newt. I still have no idea why.

    For me, along with pronouncing initialisms (e.g. NFL = neffle, MLK = mulk), my main errant term is Canadia. I should probably stop before my son gets to speaking age, to make sure he doesn't end up knecking like your sister.

  28. my dad use to get really hung up on the words barry & burry. it was some weird thing with him although he is dumb as a rock. so confusing to see you make a big deal with this

  29. Not gonna lie, I naturally pronounced it Newton like the figs.

  30. One of my younger sisters is a terrible speller. One of the words that she misspells frequently is "minute", she always spells it "minuet". It drives me batty! I swear I've told her the correct spelling dozens of times. Now I believe that she does it just to annoy me. It works.

    As for exchanging work, I think that's always a spectacular idea. Bryan from A Beer for the Shower is my bounce-off guy. He helps me edit everything I submit to the Trifecta Writing Challenge. I'm currently reading the novel he's writing and giving feedback. It really helps to have another pair of eyes on what you've written. I'm kinda terrible at punctuation, for example. It's weird because I rocked punctuation when I was in school. I attribute the backslide to my CRPS causing my memory to be just awful. So it helps me a lot to show my work to Bryan.

    I'd be happy to look over your work, but like I said, I suck at punctuation.

  31. My mother-in-law pronounces KMart as KMarK. Which wouldn't be so terrible if my father-in-law hadn't managed KMarts as a career, and, worse yet, if she hadn't WORKED THERE HERSELF FOR AT LEAST 10 YEARS.

    That being said - proofing blog posts? You, sir, are dedicated.

    PS I had to reinstall Draw Something and it lost all my games because it is a bastard. So. If you still want to play, hit me up.

  32. You know what I find humorous? That "misspelled" is one of the most commonly misspelled words. I'm a loser. I once had a sheet that listed them all.

    Privilege has always been an issue for me. I always want to spell it -ledge. I think you're writing is fine. I think as long as you spell check you're good.

  33. Hahaha I love your Dad.

    I have a friend who often gets words wrong, the latest was calling the police station the playstation, but she does it without ka-nowing it.

    I know I type how I talk, the few RL friends who read my blog tell me so, but I do proof read to make sure there aren't too many shoulda/gonna's. I also have to make sure I put a G on all the "ing" words, because I don't when I speak.
    I try to make (hope) it sounds conversational, but I am enough of a spelling/grammar troll to be a hypocrite if I didn't check it before publishing.

    Sometimes I do wonder if foreign readers can tell that I'm English and not American, I can tell with some bloggers but not all.

    And now I'm off to bed, writing all that has left be bloody well ka-nackered. Tally Ho Young Chap :)

  34. This talk of pronouncing the silent K makes me wonder if your Dad may have had some French in him.

    -Barb the French Bean

  35. In my very first blog post, I asked people to point out any errors they find. I hate bad spelling and punctuation and didn't ever want to be guilty of it. Only one person has ever pointed anything out. I find myself wondering if people just haven't said anything or did I really proofread that well.

  36. Sorry I'm late, but I had to comment on this one. My hubs, a lifelong resident of da nortwest side, can bust out a perfect Chicago accent at will, and frequently does. Because, you know, it's funny.

    At least until someone loses a vowel.

    When our daughter was young, she asked me once what I had in the beg -assuming that was the correct pronunciation of the word 'bag', since that was how she most frequently heard it. After we stopped laughing hysterically, we realized hubs had better be more careful with his uncanny power to sound like a bleacher bum.

    She does, however, still turn away in horror when she sees someone putting ketchup on a hot dog.

  37. I speak roughly three languages other than english and I still have to resort to making up words to express myself. "What-the-fuckery", anyone?

    I also always say "PREvert" instead of "PERvert". No a bloody clue why.

  38. I'm such a grammar Natzi, it's more of a curse than anything. My coauthor, however... She has great ideas, but her grammar is her demon.

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