How to React When You Learn You've Been Doing Something Wrong for Years

2 things:

1. Thanks to everyone who posted reviews of my calendar. Thanks to you I have a 5-star rating on both sites, and am currently sold out on Amazon.

2. Yes, I do say "fourth, fiftht, sixtht, seventh." Anything else sounds ridiculous to me, and yes, it took me until now to notice I was alone in this. Makes me wonder what else everybody else is wrong about!

« How to Ask Someone "What's Up" with One of Their Body Parts | How to Listen to a Friend's Problems »

Reader Comments (88)

Whether I pronounce it "height" or "heighth" depends upon the context. Reaching a new "height" or greats "heights". But when I measure the "heighth" of something, the pronunciation changes to fit with width, breadth, and depth.

I never seen "Don Quixote" in anything other than text, so I have never had to pronounce it, but would probably say "Don Quicks-Oat" since I'm not familiar with what language the name is in and how to pronounce it.

It took a long time before I made the connection that the word "Ceramic" is the same thing as the "Ceramic tiles" I had heard about in conversation. I though the written word "Ceramic" was pronounced "Cer-a-mic" instead of "Ce-ram-ic" and never made the connection the two were the same until everyone was confused about what I was talking about and someone offered a correction that made it all fit together.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKel

I say "fift" and "sixt", skipping the "th" sound altogether. It just seems easier this way. I think that's the common pronunciation where I'm from (southeast Ontario).

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTelanis

wow, its already 1:20 (on the united states east coast), there are almost 2 pages of comments, and nobody has mentioned that rick is exposed, again, to a small amount of success. guess all the commentators today are buttering up the author. all in all, not a bad stradgedy to keep those great instructions coming


December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterirrogical

It is a close tie between ST-V and ST-VI. Both were pretty awful. The number of continuity and canonical errors in both are just maddening. Nemesis was far superior to both, and that is saying something...

And don't get me started on the butchering of the English language these days. Words that aren't words, like "orientate" and "irregardless". Mispronunciations, like "probly". And I know this isn't quite on topic with the strip, but the misusage of "loose" instead of "lose" and "your" vs "you're" and the "their", "there", "they're" problem. And on and on and on... (My personal sin is too many ellipses.

Props, though, for "And on the firstth try!"

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphaser

I saw the fiftht Star Trek movie in a theater that serves beer. Only way to go.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRedshift


*runs away*

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTacoMagic

I know intelligent adults who say "acrosst" instead of "across". It drives me batty.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobb

A local news anchor pronounces the "w" in "sword". I called him on it, via email, and he replied that he always said it like that and would continue. I suggested that, as a news reader, words are his tools and maybe he should use them correctly.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterahclem

Don Quicks-Oat. The local high school had a psych teacher who talked about Jung, pronouncing the J like the G in giraffe. Gung.

Over the years I've dealt with countless realtors who mispronounce their profession. Ree-la-tor. C'mon, people; it's spelled real-tor, not re-la-tor. You don't sell REELA state.

Brilliant strip, btw. Always a laugh. And quite often, a spraying-coffee-on-my-monitor reaction.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Rick's one-upping you an awful lot lately, Mr. Scott.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoy


And by the way, you've coined a new t-shirt & coffee mug saying: "I guess that's how you & I are different. You're wrong and I'm not."

I'll agree that ST:V was the worst of the 'original cast' films, but by far the worst of all of the ST films was First Contact. Yup, I said First Contact, not Nemesis. Oh, to be sure, Nemesis wasn't great, but it was better than many episodes of TOS or TNG.
First Contact, for all its cool SFX & Star Wars wanna-be battles, was very disappointing to me, and missed several opportunities to be great. Here are just a few in no particular order... Crusher could have/should have been the one to confront Picard about his Borg obsession, given their long history together, plus this would have given Gates McFadden more screen time; Cochrane ends up not really perfecting warp drive because the Enterprise crew finished his work for him; the Enterprise engineering staff is comprised of idiots who never once thought to call Medical nor Security when they--one by one--crawled into the Jefferies Tube to see what was wrong; Cochrane was a drunken sot who looked fifty or sixty... duh, James Cromwell isn't exactly a young guy, and much as I admire his acting ability, he was miscast as a thirty-one year old.
OMG, I thought I'd gotten over my Star Trek nerd-dom years ago, and here I am going off on minutae about a decade-old movie that I didn't even like. Oh, well, at least I can take heart in the fact that I'm the only human alive that didn't like that film.
(shuffles off to wallow in self-pity, then decides instead to perk up by reading the Basic Instructions archives...)

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCR

Oh, and regardless (not IRregardless) of all this, nuke-you-ler is NOT how anyone should say 'nuclear.' Just thought I'd throw that out there...

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCR

Back in high school physics there was one guy who always pronounced the symbol for rotational velocity, a lower-case omega or ω, as wubbleyou. It caught on and that's how we all said it that year, even the teacher.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Nemesis is not worse than V, it at least had a real villain and wasn't entirely about embarrassing the entire cast (Spock doesn't know Row Row Row Your Boat, Kirk and McCoy do and sing it badly, the stupid fan dance, fat Scotty turns down old Uhura).

Also, anyone else notice that recently, every comments section turns into a Star Trek debate? The next comic should be called "How to Start a Star Trek Debate in an Internet Comments Section," and then be whatever the next comic will be.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGiondi

STV & STX equally suck. STV would've been awesome if they had given Shatner enough money for the rock monsters.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKevman7987

Rick gets to be awesome in this one.

"I guess that's how you and I are different. You're wrong and I'm not."

I'm stealing that line.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermucat

I know how you feel Scott. I always say "this data" instead of "these data" because that's the way my mom said it. Saying it or hearing it right sounds odd. Normally wouldn't be a huge issue, but I'm an engineer, so it comes up with some frequency.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Ahh the memories. I was in my twenties before I realized it was a "moot point" not a mute point.

I had a trainer the other day use the term "Irregardless" - that's one of my favorites.
"Irregardless" is not a word.

Regardless of whether you think it should be or not.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBonhomous

Very briefly dated a guy who used to say "for all intensive purposes." I think that might be why it didn't last.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCtina

In a New York City or northern New Jersey accent, the "h" in both words is frequently dropped for a similar effect: "fift" and "sixt". Having grown up in central Jersey, I occasionally say that myself. Phonetically it makes a lot more sense than what Scott is doing, though, because it's a _simplification_ of a difficult consonant cluster. Scott, on the other hand, is saying, "I see your xth, and raise you xtht."

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric Phillips

My workmate constantly says that he's "weary" of something when he means "wary".

I haven't punched him.... yet.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBooker

You aren't alone. Ack! It's my mom's kansas accent come back to haunt me again! I say fiftth, sixtth, heighth with intermittent extra ts as if I was Bill the Cat, and strew conversations with gratuitous 'got's when there's already a perfectly good other verb available, like 'have'. "Orrible! 'Orrible! I useta be an edit-er ... just totally shameful ... thanks mumble mumble...

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergobbler

I was reading through this wondering what the "real" thing is that Scott realized he was wrong about. The truth, that it really is fiftht, baffles me. And that there are others that say the same thing. Heighth I hear all the time though, and yea it bugs me. And irregardless, cringeworthy.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I note that the usual roles are reversed in this strip. Interesting!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFranz

Don Quicks-Oat? How quixotic!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKent Tutchitt

Hey, the fifth Star Trek movie wasn't one of the best, but it wasn't as bad as the first and third. Having watched the original trek movies back-to-back a few times, I find 5 to be solidly in the middle of the pack.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDrowlord

My old chemistry teacher repeatedly interspersed his lectures with "incidentally by the way".

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavey

Until recently I would pronounce 'subtle' as 'sub-till'. I finally broke myself of that habit when called out by my sister. I was also confused until recently on how to pronounce 'hyperbole'. I thought it was 'hyper-bowl' for a while.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I've always pronounced fifth, and sixth with that non-existent final T, like Scott, but I pronounce seventh without it. Since many English spellings are only marginally logical anyway, it never bothered me before. I've never noticed anybody pronouncing them *without* the non-existent final t, , and it never occurred to me that it was wrong, but I'll have to pay attention now.

Anyway, thanks Scott. I'm going to keep on saying them the wrong way, but it will now be due to pig-headedness rather than ignorance. And if anyone tries to correct me, it had better not be someone that I've heard saying "Feb-yooary" or "liberry".

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Re: "weary" versus "wary"... at least the confusion between those two might stem from how similar they look & sound. I always get frustrated by people's confusion over "eager" versus "anxious." Eager implies looking forward to something, anxious implies dreading something. (Though in the case of, say, holiday travel, perhaps people really are "anxious to get going" on a holiday trip, due to the delays in flights, snarls/jams on the highways, poor weather conditions, being forced to be in very close proximity to family members throughout it all...)

BTW, MrsCR says "supposably" instead of "supposedly." Drives me crazy, but then that's a pretty short drive anyway. (She also pronounces "boat" somewhere between "boot" and "bout"... I honestly don't know if English has a proper letter combination to convey it in writing!)

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCR

I'm pretty sure I'll have to start making regular use of "I guess that's how you and I are different. You're wrong and I'm not."

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Whoa, Michelle just blew me away. I'm a computer programmer and I have been using "data" as a mass, or uncountable, noun for years (like furniture or fruit). Of course I knew it was the plural of datum but the usage just never occurred to me. Wikipedia says it's becoming more accepted that way but Ngaaaah! That should be considered as bad as irregardless (which is also being debated as an acceptible alternative Ngaaaah!). Prescriptive grammar all the way, man! Occupy Sesame Street!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertimocracy

Wow, reading all these comments is like a "top ten" of all my language pet peeves.

I suspect that Rick has secretly taken over the photocopier / paster and is subtly changing the tone of BI. Even if Scott replies to this, it is probably Rick since who can tell on the internet? Just sayin.......

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSolak

@Drake: I do the same, on purpose... My thumb becomes tired very quickly so I switch pencil positions to rest while still continuing to write.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjh

It is worse when it is cross-linguistic: learning Japanese was punshee-ated by a snooty non-Asian librarian ( libery-an...) who insisted that all the 'g's in English translations of Japanese were pronounced as 'j's: Jo to jrocery and buy jood jrapes [ Sneaky way of directing y'all to]

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergobbler

You are not alone! I too count with extra 't''s at the end!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I actually just recently found out the "dilemna" is ACTUALLY spelled "dilemma". Apparently there are records of it being taught incorrectly in certain regions of the US...

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCoesy D

I work in a place where we exhibit Don Quixote's art. I quickly learned Quixote = Kee-o-tee (also acceptable to say Kee-yo-tee.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina

Agreed, I'm not an English major, but I find pretty much all of these things annoying...and Booker, go ahead and give him a punch for me, that pisses me off. Then again, I pronounce phonetically a lot - neither is nyther, and route is r-out. So while I'm still correct, I bet a lot of people want to punch me for being different in my area, lol. Coming from the northeast though...Warsh is never correct. People say it, but no. There is no r, just like there is no S in my name (Hate you people who call me Christina).

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina

Everyone I've ever known who said "heighth" was a teacher, so I assumed it was a technical term that I was unfamiliar with. It's good to know that it isn't, because the word's existence always seemed unnecessary.

Now, what really bothers me is that ever since I've moved to North Dakota I've been surrounded by people who don't know that you use apostrophes in possessive tenses and not in plurals. I suspect that the state's education system is deliberately teaching its students a very complicated set of rules for apostrophes that has no relation to reality. And they're far more effective at it than Minnesota is at trying to make people say "heighth".

Also, a few North Dakotans, and everyone on MPR always pronounce anything with "em" as "im" and "en" as "in", even though the prove capable of pronouncing the short e sound correctly in most other circumstances.

December 8, 2011 | Unregistered
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.