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mbumby
...that word. I do not think it means... 
14th-May-2009 09:23 am
grammar
I read a lot as a child. I talked a lot too, and I think early on my parents got me to "figure it out from context" when I'd encounter a new word.

They must have done that as well, as I was taught by their usage that to "lie" meant to say something that was not true. e.g. -- I lied, I'll take the coke not the iced tea.

In some cases, my guess was close, and I was in my 30s when I met an inconsistency and looked up ambivalent. I thought it meant to simply not care between 2 or more choices.

Yesterday (I'm no longer pulling 40, but rather pushing 50) I encountered "erstwhile" in a *blink* *blink* context. My childhood reading of that had indicated that it meant ardent, fervent, tenacious. e.g. -- Meanwhile, her erstwhile lover braved snowy mountain passes and hungry dragons in order to rescue the princess. *ahem* Not quite.
Comments 
14th-May-2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
I more often guessed wrong about pronunciation. For years I thought "misled" was pronounced "my-zld". It never occurred to me it was "mis-led", i.e. led in the wrong direction. Duh.

Fortunately, "erstwhile" is a word that doesn't come up often in conversation, so I trust your logical but incorrect guess about its meaning didn't cause confusion or embarrassment involving other people.
14th-May-2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
*g* no, it was actually an LJ post. I sort of said "huh ... _that_ doesn't make sense ..." and grabbed my Websters. It's not a word I'd ever _used_ before.

I still remember using rebarbative to my mom -- I know I was 14 or under, and she corrected my usage, not knowing the word, but assuming it to have its root in rhubarb.

For pronunciation, since I am not often exposed to voice ads (avoiding commercial radio and most TV), I thought that my current cell carrier was Very Zahn, not "rhyming with horizon", and was quite amused when a linquistically inclined coworker called it that (after I learned better).
14th-May-2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm. Now I'm wondering whether mobile phones are very Zahn, or more Clarke.
14th-May-2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Satellite phones are more Clarke.
14th-May-2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
Heehee.... it's always interesting when you stumble across something you incorrectly came to believe as a child. It's hard to let go of something you've just accepted as true, without even thinking about it, for so long!
14th-May-2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
That's funny - I did *exactly* the same thing with "erstwhile." Only I then used it in a conversation and got a lot of confused looks. Oops.
14th-May-2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
*g* So I'm in good company!
14th-May-2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
IIRC my mother always had a dictionary around so we could look words up. Even now I find myself going to online dictionaries to make sure a word means what I've always thought it meant. Or that it IS what I want to use in order to articulate what I am trying to say (haha yes, I looked up articulate: c: expressing oneself readily, clearly, or effectively).
14th-May-2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I have a cheapo (the tag says $1.88) blended Webster's/Roget's here at work -- not great, but I'll not cry if/when it's stolen. (Have used it frequently, have tagged the potential typo I found.) Have many dictionaries at home -- and I'm sure we had them at home when I was a child, but I'm just not remembering being encouraged to utilize them. At least not as often as I encountered new words. Of course, that could have been related to me being small, weak, and half blind. :-)
14th-May-2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Like others here, I've mainly had that problem with pronunciation - most of my English input between the ages of 5 and 21 came from books rather than conversation because of where I lived. It's only in the last few years that I've learnt that "awry" isn't pronounced "oar-ee". Add to that the fact that a lot of words I *did* know how to pronounce in an American accent are pronounced differently over here... :)
14th-May-2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, occasionally it's a challenge making oneself understood (or at least not laughed at) by true speakers of English. Listening to a Brit the other day I was astounded (although perhaps I shouldn't have been) by the number of words where the stress was on a completely unexpected syllable.
14th-May-2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
During a lecture by a Brit Prof - it took a bit to figure out the word he'd said was "aluminum".
14th-May-2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
That's one I actually had known about ... they actually spell it with the extra 'i' -- aluminium.

It took me a while to figure out that when one of my non-native-US coworkers said the word "G-row" he was actually referring to what you get when you subtract a number from itself.
14th-May-2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
My understanding of "to lie" appears to be slightly different from yours, because it doesn't include the simple act of changing one's mind. There has to be intent to deceive as well, and the knowledge that what you're saying is false -- if you say something untrue in good faith because you think it is true, that's not lying, you're just wrong.
14th-May-2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
I've been working on that "intent to deceive" part for the last *mumble* years... in my world it included changing ones mind and being prevented by forces outside of one's control... but the dictionary doesn't bear that out.
14th-May-2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
I spent a lot of years thinking that Epi-tome and E-pit-o-me were two roughly synonymous words, the first of which I happened to have encountered in reading, and the second of which I happened to have encountered in speech.
15th-May-2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Hah. I also had that mistaken pronunciation of epi-tome in my book-filled brain.
14th-May-2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
As to your icon - Deirdre is in the same class as weird. (Am I surprised?)
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