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Speak and you shall be heard

Etc. is an abbreviation. It's short for the Latin phrase et cetera (/ɛt ˈsɛtəɹə/) which literally translates to "and the rest",  in standard English usage it means "and so forth".

The reason for this bit of scholarly info is to draw your attention to the absence of an "x" in both, the phrase and its abbreviation.

So why in the name of all that is good and wise do such a vast number of people insist on saying "excetera" when meaning "et cetera"?

As an immigrant to this country I have a clear understanding of the difficulty of getting ones jaw around strange sound combinations.  What surprises me is that such difficulties seem to exist for natives as well. Anybody ever hear "nucular" instead of "nuclear" or "aks" instead of "ask" ?

My personal experience tells me that learning how to speak correctly is a matter of will for those of us with properly formed mouths and ears. Yes, it is hard. Yes, the jaws can hurt. But I promise, anyone willing can. All it takes is the knowledge of how to pronounce a word (found in any dictionary) and practice, practice, practice.

Although language is a living thing, with words falling in and out of favor, pronunciation of a particular spelling does not change.  The letter combination A-S-K will always be pronounced "ask" never, ever "aks".

And so I ask, if you ever have the opportunity to affect another person who has a hard time with such words, please do so.

I ask this not only for myself but also for the person with the difficulty.  I believe that self-esteem grows only with the accomplishment of that which is difficult.  Therefore in doing so you will help them avoid sounding illiterate as well as be instrumental in their development of higher self-esteem not to mention keeping me sane just a little while longer!

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June 2009