For The Longest Time

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

port and pot:

For the longest time, I thought pot and port have the same pronunciation. Until one day somebody asked me, “are you talking about a pot or a port?” I can’t remember the topic we were talking about at the time, but I remember the confusion I caused. Or probably this person had already figured out what I meant, but she just wanted to point out to me, in a thinly veiled way, that I was mixing up the vowels.

herb and heir

I thought I thought herb and heir are both pronounced with the “h” sound audible like in “hair”. It was much later that I realized that the “h” is silent, unlike “hair”.

Al Capone and Truman Capote

It was not until I read the book “In Cold Blood” that I realized the author has a last name “Capote”, different from “Capone”. Before that point, I thought the Al Capone and Truman Capote were brothers, one became a gangster and the other became a writer. I didn’t know why I thought so.

Washington D.C. and Washington State

I think this is a common mistake that many people can mistake Washington D.C. for Washington State and vice versus.

Roosevelt Boulevard

Edison township has a Roosevelt Park and Queens, New York has a Roosevelt Boulevard. For some reason, I just can’t pronounce Roosevelt right. As a non-native speaker, I have my accented way in pronouncing it, but for this word, my tongue just stops in the middle at “s” syllable and can’t twist its way to go forward.

Salmon (the fish) and Salman Rushdie (the writer)

The two are spelled differently and pronounced differently. Salmon (the fish) doesn’t have an “l” sound in the middle. The “l” seems to be silent. However, to pronounce the writer’s name, “l” is clearly audible.

Massachusetts and Mississippi

Pronouncing and spelling these two states are both difficult, especially the first one. In the Asian community here, I shortened Massachusetts to Ma Province.

19 thoughts on “For The Longest Time

  1. When I lived in the Washington DC area, I had to add the word “state” to Washington when talking about the state. As a resident of Washington state, I have to add the “DC” when talking about the District of Columbia to my neighbors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I guess you probably need to do that in the East Coast a lot since everybody presumes it is DC you are talking about. I know this confused a lot of people. I mean a lot of non-native speakers. With two areas with the same name, and three universities with similar names, one is U. of Wash in Seattle, one is Washington U in St. Louis, and one is George Washington U.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was only when I went to the USA and heard them saying place-names on the TV that I realised I’d been wrong all along on how some of them were pronounced. eg I thought Spokane rhymed with “cocaine”. In fact it rhymes with “tin can”. Bill Bryson is very amusing on US place names like “Cairo” (Illinois) which the locals pronounce “Kay-ro” even though they pronounce the capital of Egypt in the “normal” way!

    In British English the “h” is pronounced in “herb” but not in “heir”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve encounter “Paris” one day many years ago. Let me see. I just googled and there are more than 20 cities in the U.S. that are named after the French capital. And 3 cities called London, and one called New London. Four towns called Madrid.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks to your title, I had this urge to listen to Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.” It’s an 80s song but sang with a classic doo-wop manner.

    I can help with Mississippi. There is a man named Mr. Hippie and his wife is Mrs. Hippie.

    Try it, it works 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a very interesting name, isn’t it? I’ve never used the word Mississippi. However I used Massachusetts many times when I help people to call somewhere about something related to the state. If I can use Boston, I would use it, but sometimes it is not related with Boston.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. On trips to Mississippi, when my daughter was younger, she thought we were going on a trip to see someone named ‘Ms. Assippy.’ Also, the spelling of ‘Mississippi’ is so difficult that there is a chant to help young children learn how to spell it. It goes, “M-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-humpback-humpback-i.” There is even a song about it on YouTube:


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