Posted by: barbaraneill | February 20, 2013

Evolving language or just plain wrong?

This is one for my soapbox. I’m irritated and, in my opinion at least, with good reason. I’d be very interested to hear the opinions of others on this score to find out whether I’m in good company or if it’s just me, turning into Victor Meldrew, (old and grumpy!).

I’ve been tracing my family history for a number of years now and plan to visit the “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” show, in London, later this week. It’s a massive show, dedicated to family history and promises to be of huge interest to genealogists, like me.

That is where the trouble starts; not in the show, but in the word ‘genealogist’ or, to use its root, (if you’ll pardon the pun), ‘genealogy’. In preparation for the show, I was watching a video about common mistakes in genealogy. To my horror, the presenter pronounced the word, “geneOlogy” and I was, somewhat self-righteously to be honest, saying, “Well, there’s the first mistake; mis-pronouncing the word!” Amazingly, the video presenter went on to say that the word “geneOlogy” was often mis-spelled because it has an ‘a’ in the middle, rather than an ‘o’ as one might expect! (I certainly hadn’t expected THAT!)

Although I’ve been a geneAlogist for some years, I started to doubt myself at this point. I searched the Internet for the ‘correct’ pronunciation of the word, ‘genealogy’, believing that the ‘a’ in the middle was a big clue. I was horrified, again, to find several audio recordings that concurred with the ‘geneOlogy’ version. During the course of my search I even found a messageboard thread that was promising, initially, when enquiring how the word should be pronounced until, in disbelief, I noticed that the only two options were, ‘Geeneology’ or ‘Geneology’.

I was fairly happy to assume that the ‘ology’ option might be an Americanism while we, Brits, prefer the ‘alogy’ version. In any case, I have been accused of being a ‘Grammar Nazi’ on occasion and, while I don’t claim that my knowledge of grammar is perfect by any means, I do accept that I could probably benefit from relaxing about it just a little bit, even if I can’t bring myself to pronounce ‘genealogy’ with an extra ‘o’ that isn’t really there!

I do take great comfort, however, from the fact that one of the, ever helpful, websites I encountered was apparently happy to advise me on the “correct proNOUNciation of the word geneOlogy” and, on that note, I rest my case.


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