The mispronounced words that annoy people most are “specifically” and “probably”, reports a survey.
However, listeners are reluctant to correct the mistakes for fear of being called a “pedant”.
In a study by Perspectus Global of 2,000 people more than a third said “pacifically” was the word that annoyed them most.
A close second with 28% was “probly”.
A quarter found “specially” especially irritating.
Dr Alex Baratta, a senior lecturer in linguistics at Manchester University, said:
“Language is always changing, and this can apply to pronunciations of words and not just word meanings and grammar.
“In some cases, a word may change its pronunciation, or end up with two existing pronunciations, based on what might have started out as an error.
“Once the new pronunciation takes hold in a society, then it’s no longer an error but an innovation.
“Differences in pronunciation can arise due to the natural speech of certain groups or informal speech in general, so that we have clippings, eg probly.”