Pronunciation is a part of what breathes life into words, what creates a third dimension of palpability. It also happens to be one of the central arguments between me and my sister.
Mound. Apricot. Lapel. Cache. Aluminum. We realize that we’re uttering different sounds, so we rush to the online dictionary to prove who’s right. Sometimes she is, sometimes I am, sometimes both or neither of us.
The silver lining is that, when the heat dies down, we know we can retreat to the comforts beyond technically correct tongue clicks and twists. I know that she will pronounce mound as “mooned,” and she knows that I will pronounce aluminum as aluminium and forget that lapel is “lu-pEl.” In spite of what the vapid voice of the online pronunciation guide tells us, I know that when I hear the unmistakable intonation of the word, “Moa,” I’ll know who it is.