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.