Dear Aunty Social: Say What?


I’ve been working for a small technology company as an account executive for the past 6 years.  We have a small team and as the most senior AE, it is my responsibility to train new hires.  Recently, one of our team members left the company to be a full-time parent and we hired someone to take over her accounts.  The owner, one other manager, and I interviewed this candidate and we unanimously agreed to move forward with him.  He had a strong background and interviewed well.  I have been onboarding him for the past month and have noticed that he consistently mispronounces several words including; echelon and façade.  He pronounces the “ch” in echelon like the “ch” in the word “chair “and the “c” in the word “façade” like the “c” in cake.  Not only does this make me cringe with a very hard “c”, I feel very uncomfortable when I hear him mispronounce words while on the phone with clients.  I am not sure how to correct him without feeling like uncomfortable.  I’m not his boss, his parent, or his teacher.  Please help Aunty Social. 

—Lexical Linda


Dear Lingual Linda,

This is a potentially pernicious problem of the precariously pedestrian kind.  I often bristle with a reaction that is quite visceral to my entire constitution when I am within earshot of mispronunciations as well as malaprops.  Unlike you, I make no attempt at covering up my disdain for such inaccuracies, and if in a direct conversation I am quick to correct the offender.  Years ago, while living at The Plaza, I would often find myself shuddering at the myriad of ways people managed to mispronounce the word “concierge” or use a totally different word while trying to sound worldly uttering phrases such as ”I’d like to ask the con-serge about dinner arrangements” or “The consillier can give us a map.”  Many believe the “g” is silent, however; the “g” is not silent rather it’s a soft “g” like the sound of “zh” or the “g” in the word, “beige.”  Many concierges themselves mispronounce their own title.  I can’t tell you how many times I called down to a myriad of hotel concierge desks only to be horrified upon hearing, “Good Afternoon, this is the concier desk.”  Now, because this is a French word, I do reserve a bit of compassion when offering a correction.  Not so much when it’s actually a common word in one’s own native tongue. 

While living on the Upper East Side, weather permitting, I would often walk my purebred Pug, Prudence to the park.  There was I period of time I would pass by a man sitting on a bench with a parrot perched on his shoulder.  One day, Prudence became inquisitive and pulled me toward the man who appeared to be feeding something to his Parrot.  I decided to strike up a congenial conversation with the gentleman and began inquiring about his pet.  I found him to be relaxed and convivial.  I quite enjoyed our repartee as well as that of his bird who chimed in with an occasional, “Hello,” “pretty bird,” as well as a quick whistle.  And then it happened.  I asked him, “May I ask what you are feeding your little feathered friend?”  He replied, “Oh, I am giving him ca- chews.”   I inquired, “Please come again?”  He repeated, “ca-chew nuts.”  At that moment, I had enough with this peasant and his passerine and politely said, “Are the ca-chews the cause of the chit on your chirt?” After that, the man avoided eye contact when Prudence and I passed by however the parrot always said, “hello.”

Now, Lexicon Linda, before we rebuke the offender with harsh and unfair judgement, let’s take a moment to address how mispronunciations occur in the first place. Often, we hear others mispronounce certain common words such us “mis-chee-vee-us” while the correct pronunciation is “mis-chiv-us.”  These are the same people who prattle on about things preceded by, “for all intensive purposes” while misquoting song lyrics such as “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not” from Bon Jovi’s’ “Living on a Prayer.”  Now, regardless, not to be confused with irregardless, we do need to help your colleague level up in order to insure he can carve out a good niche for himself on your team.  Incidentally, niche is yet another commonly mispronounced word that does not rhyme with a term used for my precious pug Prudence’s mother.

Loquacious Linda, I understand these gaffes of gab could cause some potential embarrassment not only to the blathering blunderer himself but also to your company.  I understand how awkward it is to correct a grown adult, especially a colleague, however; people can’t learn unless they are taught and therefore, Longwinded Linda, it is your duty to put an end to the suffering of all within in earshot of the malefactor.  I would suggest the following:

  1. Don’t put on a façade and correct him on the spot. While you risk coming off like a rude arse, at least you will be perceived as a smart one
  2. Carve out time for a phonetics lesson while assuring him the request came direct from an upper-echelon client.
  3. Provide him with a trained parrot who is able to mimic the correct pronunciation of the mispronunciations along with a bag of ca-chews
  4. Call your local hotel Concier


Aunty Social

Editor’s note: Dear Aunty Social is masterfully written by Shelley Brown, whose career as an advice columnist continues to blossom, as she offers comfort and a reality check with unparalleled candor. Her unique ability to read between the lines and respond with, wit, wisdom, and radical in-your-face honesty will continue to win her the loyalty of millions of fans worldwide. Click here to enjoy your favorite Aunty’s entire archives of tastefully delivered bad advice.


Aunty Social
Aunty Social
Modern life can be hideously complicated which is why I, the sassy, irreverent Aunty Social is here to help. From heartbreaking relationship issues to table manners to nosey neighbors, I always do my very best to deliver brutally blunt, in your face, no-nonsense bad advice with the wit and wisdom of a lady thrice my (none of your business) age. I'm ready and willing to solve your problems without beating around the bush. Need some bad advice? – Just click on my email icon below to send me your problems and leave your cares behind! And then come back and visit me now and then because who knows? –I might actually get around to answering my emails. Please be patient, because what I lack in speed, I make up for in gibberish.

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  1. Enjoyed this immensely Shelley
    Having immigrant parents and growing up with the language they use and the one i was being taught… was often a point of contention… Not only in language, but grammar too!
    Many times I have had to bite my tongue…🤷‍♀️ It just brings a bad taste to my mouth when words are so abused at times… then there are those that down right make me laugh.
    Thanks for this one

    • Thank you so much for your perspective Paula. I’m curious if you were like most of my friends whose parents spoke to them in their native tongue and you answered back in English? Since I worked as a Concierge, it always made me squirm a bit however; I wasn’t allowed to coorect anyone. Aunty would have corrected people 😀 So happy this made you laugh.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your hilarity with us, Shelley! I’m enjoying the Auntie Social series very much. Reading this column brings a smile to my face which I now understand from Melissa Hughes, Ph.D., that causes oxymorons to flow to my brain quicker–Oh, wait-actually oxytocin or is it simply the Big “O” that flows? LOL!! Hugs to you, my friend. I know that belly laughing releases the same “good stuff” in my nervous system and endrocrine system as multiple big “O’s”. Okay, that may be a bit TMI. 🙂 Anyway, I wish you a laugher-filled day!!

    • Ha Ha!!!! Oxymorons!!! I may be reaching out to you for some collaboration as you are wickedly hilarious my dear. Hugs to you and wishing you abundant belly laughs!