Biases

The word “biases” came up repeatedly in a talk from the Being Human conference I watched, and the pronunciation seemed a bit off. A quick search led to a few pages confirming my suspicion, including this entry in The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker (which, based on the Google Books preview, seems like an amusing book):

biases BY-uh-siz. Do not say BY-uh-seez.

The overeducated but underinformed speaker, straining for effect, overpronounces the plural of “bias”¬†as “bias ease” or “bias seize.” But “biases” is an English plural (like “houses” or “boxes”), not a Greek one (like “theses” or “crises”). The proper pronunciations is the natural one, like “bias” is.

It’s obviously a minor issue, and it seems unlikely that anyone mentioned it to the speaker afterward, but just imagining myself in a similar situation with other words makes me want to give this book a look.

The most stressful pronunciation situation for me was my college DJ days, where not only were the artist names and song titles often strange and new to me, but there was no easily accessible definitive guide (or video¬†warning). I was always a little worried that an offended listener would call in to complain (only a little, though, because my mom’s too nice to correct me and my other listener only called to request Kraftwerk.)

2 Comments

  1. Richard! says:

    I was that guy requesting kraftwerk!

  2. April says:

    Good choice

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