You can hear a word all your life, and not realise how odd it is. I was driving up the M5/M4 this morning, letting my brain bask in the soak of some Radio 5 waffle (‘Absolutely… Absolutely… Absolutely… Absolutely… Absolutely… Absolutely… ‘ DON’T THEY KNOW THE WORD ‘YES’?), when someone came on and started talking about privacy laws.

He said privacy, as rhyming with ‘liver-sea’. And maybe I do, too – although the moment I heard it, I heard myself say privacy as in ‘diver-sea’. The reason is that we all say ‘private’, whether referring to a secluded spot, an intimate moment, or a non-ranking soldier, to rhyme with ‘arrive at’. Not privet, as in hedge. I suppose that it might be that private and privet are spelled differently to avoid the danger of confusion (‘This is my private hedge – get off’), whereas there is no need to distinguish when it comes to privacy, because there is no state of being privet, if you follow my drift. Hmmm.

I spelled specific as spacific until I was ten (I think I thought it was to do with South Pacific, or S.Pacific). I also spelled linseed as liniseed until my editor proofed my poetry collection. I had never used linseed oil, that’s why (I am a complete non-cricketer).

One odd thing is that you often here pronunciation pronounced as pronounciation. But you never hear pronounced pronounced pronunced. Odd what the mind does.


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