Daily Archives: February 3, 2010

Controversial—four syllables or five? . . .

Controversial has only four syllables when pronounced correctly.

Five syllables, as in con-tro-ver’-si-al, is wrong.

Four syllables, as in con-tro-ver’-shul, is correct.

Controversial is one of the most often mispronounced words in our English lexicon. It is mispronounced by supposedly erudite people and is one of my pet peeves. The word is improperly pronounced by people in high places, particularly by television personalities such as news anchors, political commentators and visiting pundits.

I am particularly peeved by the frequent and consistent mispronunciation by an attractive—I mean really attractive—lady on the Fox News channel. Were I in the position to do so, I would shake her until her teeth rattled and continue until she learned to pronounce the word with four syllables, not five.

I hasten to add that, once my hands were on her shoulders, I would probably forget my original intention, instantly and completely. (Note that I do not name the reporter because I am not a stalker—I’m just a wisher).

However, that beauty is not alone. One of the most respected men in television, a grandfatherly type and a regular on Fox News, also consistently enunciates five syllables—not that I would ever consider shaking him—he’s far too big for me to even think about doing any shaking. (Note that I do not name him either—in case he comes after me, I can always claim that I was referring to some other grandfatherly reporter).

How many times have you heard someone refer to the martial arts? Do they pronounce the phrase with three syllables, as in mar-ti-al arts? No, they pronounce that phrase as mar-shul arts. And how about the word partial? Does anyone pronounce it with three syllables, as in par-ti-al?

No, of course not—they pronounce it as par-shul.

It’s very difficult for me to understand why someone—anyone—has apparently never advised either the blond or the grandfatherly type reporter on Fox News that their pronunciation of controversial is incorrect.

Because of their consistent mispronunciation of controversial, they are contributing significantly to the corruption of an entire generation of our nation’s children, a demographic that is very susceptible to such corruption, just as are many in the adult demographic.

I rest my case.


Posted by on February 3, 2010 in Uncategorized


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They invited you and I to the party. Right or wrong?


The sentence should read They invited you and me, or They invited me and you—either is correct.

A complete sentence consists of a subject, a verb and an object (quite often the object is unseen and unheard, but is understood by the reader or the listener). An example would be, “He is almost as handsome as I.” In that sentence the last word is am, as in “He is almost as handsome as I am.” The am is unseen but is understood.

In the title sentence above, you and I is a compound object that takes the action of the verb invited. This is a very common mistake, one that can easily be avoided by a simple—extremely simple—nay, stupidly simple—process.

There are no complicated rules of grammar to learn. To determine the rightness or wrongness of the sentence, simply delete each of those invited—you and I— in turn, then read the sentence and listen to the sound.

Delete the I and the sentence reads, They invited you, an obviously correct sentence.

Delete the you and the sentence reads, They invited I, an obviously incorrect sentence.

The same simple process may be used when the sentence involves plurals of personal pronouns such as we and us. Were my brother and I conversing and I said, He is almost as handsome as we, the unseen and unheard word would be are, as in we are. We would not say He is almost as handsome as us are.

Special note: The statements regarding relative handsomeness are not necessarily true.

I said it was a simple process–-need I say more?



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Irregardless—right, or wrong?



Read this posting at your own peril. It’s a grammar lesson, the first of many to come, a veritable onslaught of similar postings and a site to which viewers will quickly become addicted. Anyone that adheres to the maxims presented on this site will be swimming upstream, ostracized, isolated and rejected by the multitudes that go with the flow. Ignore them. Stand out from the crowd. Keep swimming upstream.

This posting focuses on the use of irregardless, a word frequently used when a speaker wants to suggest that a certain something is to be disregarded. Its misuse is one of my pet peeves (and they are legion).

I plan to cover all my pet peeves eventually, and I will happily discuss any pet peeve that may be submitted by a viewer. I will also cheerfully answer, or attempt to answer, any question that may be presented, whether on pronunciation, sentence construction, spelling, subject and verb agreement, the use and construction of adverbs, the possessive form of nouns, etc. If I don’t know the answer and cannot find the answer, I will just as cheerfully admit that I don’t know it.

Try me.

As regards—or in regard to—or regarding—irregardless:

Irregardless is not a proper word, regardless of its appearance in dictionaries and regardless of its use in speeches and writings by supposedly erudite persons. It should not be used. One possible exception, perhaps, might be when a speaker is faced with an untutored audience of one or more persons that might tend to accept its use as proper—audiences in certain southern hilly or swampy areas, for example.

The proper word is regardless—it means without regard for, pay no attention to, do not regard. A loving and very understanding wife, for example, might tell her husband “Darling, I love you, regardless of your slovenly appearance and your disgusting bathroom habits.”As used here, the word means “in spite of.” (She may say it, but may not mean it).

Everyone is aware, of course, that the prefix ir means not, and the suffix less means without, therefore the word irregardless contains a double negative.

Less negates regard all by itself—it needs no help from ir.

Now that you’ve read my position on the word irregardless, I’ll give you Wikipedia’s stand:

Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.


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