Don’t Laugh

I have been meaning to post this confession for a while.

You know how you might read words all the time, know what they mean, know how to spell them but then hesitate when you have to actually pronounce them?

Last year I was having a conversation with my husband about something and the word “gaol” came up.

The conversation went like this.

“I hate that word gaol,” I said whilst I was reading stuff in a magazine.

“What did you say?” K asks staring at me.

“I hate the word gaol,” I repeat, “It is stupid, it just does not sound right when I say it. Doesn’t flow properly”.

“That is because you are pronouncing it incorrectly,” husband is staring in amazement at me.

“What do you mean – incorrectly. G-A-O-L – gayole,” I repeat to him like he is an idiot.

“It is G-A-O-L as in JAIL,” he looks at me in utter fascination.

“Are you serious?” I feel a creeping blush happening.

“Yes, and I cannot believe that it has taken you 43 years to know how to pronounce that word,” my husband starts laughing.

“Great, I cannot believe I have been reading books and pronouncing it my head as “gayole” and I have actually said it out loud to other people,” I am so embarrassed.

For the next few days he says things to me like I should go to gayole for my gaff.

I won’t tell him that for years I pronounced the word “Cotoneaster” as Cotton Easter.

Or the word “indignant” as “indijant”.

Or “what” as “wutt”.

Or “any” as “annie”.

Or always get the words “wonder” and “wander” confused in both pronunciation and in meaning.

Carnt do nuffin’ about it now.



18 thoughts on “Don’t Laugh

  1. Ok, first of all, I KNOW that when you start with “don’t laugh” it means laughter is definite 🙂Second, I’m impressed that you would ever have reason to use “gaol” in conversation. Maybe it’s more common down under than here? 🙂


  2. So long as you don’t confuse “then” with “than”. I see that all the time, especially online. I had no idea so many people could confuse an adverb with a conjunction.And I am a nerd.


  3. Thanks for clearing that up — I’ve mispronounced “GAOL” in <><>exactly the same way!<><>You’ve spared me a lot of potential embarrassment. Thanks much, Linda!!😉


  4. Sharon: Gaol is early modern English spelling and appears more in the Commonwealth countries. Often it is used in newspaper articles rather than the word jail. Lots of classic English novels use the word.Chris H: I know. I cringe when I think that I got this far and not one person set me straight!Lulu: Me too. Even my own son can pronounce French words better than I. Le, la = huh?Baba: You will tell me if I do that won’t you? Sometimes when it is late at night and I am doing a post all the rules merge into one..


  5. I’ve only ever seen the word in Dickens’ novels, as in Reading Gaol. I just assumed it must be jail. I don’t make many pronunciation errors, but I make other sorts. For the longest time, I thought the big “Woodstock Festival” took place in the small town of Woodstock, here in Southern Ontario. My husband will not let me live that one down!Kat


  6. LOL! Why is the English language so complicated? lol! Whoever came up with some of the spellings had one hell of a wicked sense of humour. I was born in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford Upon Avon, and have lived in England for all of my 35 years – and I still struggle with the bloody language….lol!Warmest regards ~ Grahamps. I love your new profile photo!!!!


  7. Linda, laugh at me..I have never heard of the word “gaol” much less pronounce it.Tell your husband and then he can laugh at me and not pick on you. Tell him that I’m in the States and our education system just “ain’t” that “gud”.LOL


  8. Kat: Ha ha, that Woodstock one is rather funny. For years I thought that Papua was the capital of New Guinea. Graham: You must have some time up your sleeve to visit blogs! Well, the English language is certainly a challenge at times. Sometimes I read words and think I must be really ignorant. There was a great series about the English Language and it was an eye opener as to why it is such a complicated language. That photo was a couple of weeks ago – I spent ages trying to draw the view out the studio door. It was a bit more difficult than I thought. sigh…..


  9. Linda — I’m late checking in here!I learned how to pronounce the word “gaol” in the seventies. It’s a word in the lyrics of Genesis’ “Mad Man Moon,” I think from their Trick of the Tail album. (I love very old Genesis)I’m a stickler for pronunciation. It’s terrible.


  10. DD: You obviously read the lyrics as well as listened to them. Each time I think about the word gaol I just cannot imagine why I did not pick up on it. I mean, I knew it was a jail – must have just thought that gayole was some ancient english pronunciation.


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