There’s an article, Quoof and other family nonsense, which is about the mispronunciation of words, both intentional and otherwise. I have done both.
There are a slew of words I simply cannot spell unless I say them – sometimes in my head but occasionally aloud, albeit in fun – the way they are spelled. For instance, I’d say epitome is EP-i-tome, not e-PIT-o- me; facade is fa-CADE, rather than fa-SAHD . And my favorite word, because it has all the vowels in alphabetical order, is facetious, which I like to do as FACE-tious, rather than fa-SEE-shus; it also works with the adverb form, by adding the -ly.
But one word I simply had never said aloud was omniscience, which I knew from reading, often religious books, meant the state of knowing everything. When I saw it, I thought OM-ni-science. Now I could, and have, pronounced omniscient, and so I knew the emphasis was on the second syllable. But that last syllable confounded me.
I discovered this on Mother’s Day, when the youth of the church was running the services. So, instead of going to choir, I attended Christian education for the adults. Folks took turn reading this paper written by the leader, my friend Grace, about “Exploring the nature of God and the existence of suffering in the world.”
The word omniscience showed up, not once but about five times. After I butchered it a few times, someone said aloud, “om-NI-shents”, and the brain said, OK. Truth is, if this had happened some years ago, I would been mortified, and probably depressed, for days, or probably longer.
During the church service, two of our church high schoolers gave the sermon on diversity fighting hatred. One of them was Sofia, the daughter of the Transitional Presbyter for Albany Presbytery – well, not for too much longer. So I jokingly say to Pastor Miriam, in front of Shannan the Presbyter, “So we got someone to take your [preaching] job.” But I was misunderstood, with both of them thinking I wanted to get rid of Pastor Miriam, instead of sideways complimenting Sofia. I so hate being misunderstood.
And since Eric Burdon’s birthday was this month, it’s time for a #15 song in the US in 1965 by the Animals, oh, Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.