Sometimes our words come from mispronunciations.
An apprentice or lackey for a more talented individual can be referred to as a student, at one time pejoratively mispronounced stugent. Though it’s not nailed down, some linguists assert that in 1913 this purposeful mispronunciation spawned the word stooge.
The Spanish word juzgar means to judge. The court or tribunal where a judge might be employed is a juzgao. Some time around 1911 we Americans mispronounced juzgao & misunderstood its meaning, and voila, hoosegow was born,
In Turkish, the letter g can represent a sound somewhat close to an English w. The Turkish word yog, meaning to condense, is the root of the Turkish word yogurt (pronounced in Turkish yowurt). The spelling led to the English mispronunciation of yogurt, which entered the language in the 1620s.
The word for golden in Middle Dutch was gulden. In the late 1400s, English speakers mispronounced gulden, morphing it into guilder, the primary currency used by the Dutch before the Euro kicked in.
The word bulge, meaning a rounded projection or protuberance, appears to have been dialectically mispronounced about 1872 as bug, giving us the term bug-eyed. So even though some insects may be bug-eyed, the bug in bug-eyed doesn’t mean bug.
The word haphazard, meaning unplanned, random or ineffectual, appears to be the source of the crass & initially purposefully mispronounced word half-assed, which came to English in 1913.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Merriam Webster, Etymonline, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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