Friday, December 17, 2010

Anole Embarrassment

At the beginning of October I went to Florida for a few days. (The trip will be blogged in more detail when I get the photographs on the internet and finish all the species identifications.) For me perhaps the biggest attraction in south Florida is the large number of lizards, mostly introduced, which can be found there.

The most diverse of these lizards are the anoles, a group of iguanians common in the American tropics. I have been interested in anoles for most of my life. I even owned one when I was younger. And all that time I have pronounced the word as "anoel" (to rhyme with goal). But when I got back from Florida, I was talking to someone who had grown up there, and he pronounced the word as "anoe-lee" (to rhyme with goalie).

It turns out that "anoe-lee" is the correct pronunciation, even though to me "anoe-lee" sounds like some kind of Italian dessert. (If you are doubtful, you can hear the word being spoken by someone who sounds like Michael Caine.)

The really embarrassing part is not just that I've been mispronouncing a word for decades, but that everyone else whom I know has mispronounced it the same way—which makes me worry that the reason that they pronounced it as they did is because of the way that I pronounced it, because I was the one who was supposed to be the reptile expert.

This anole understands my embarrassment.

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