Yesterday, I did something silly.
I work for a company that builds event webpages for schools when they have their fundraisers, like jog-a-thon, spell-a-thon, Math-a-thon – basically anything with an “athon” behind it, they contact us.
I help with customer service when events are active, as well as, setting up new sites. When we set up the site, the school’s logo is inserted. This one was a Leopard. However, when I first glanced at it, I kept pronouncing it (in my head) as
“Leo – Pard” (wait! what? that doesn’t make sense. – looking again – clearing the cobwebs from the brain)
“Oh, it’s a big cat. Leopard!” DUH.
Then that got me to thinking, why (in the world?) would I absent-mindedly pronounce it that way? Maybe because I don’t come across it that often, and because in Southern California, our big cat wildlife are Mountain Lions and Bob Cats. So, when I wasn’t truly thinking about it, I pronounced like you would Leotard! “Leo-tard.”
After laughing at myself, I began thinking WHY IS IT that Leotard and Leopard, with only 1 letter difference, are pronounced so differently? I didn’t see that one on the word wheel. No wonder English, as a second language, is so difficult to conquer. Even those having it has their primary language can’t seem to master it.