Recently another retired college professor who hails from Great Britain and I were discussing the English language. One thing led to another, and I ventured to ask him and several others who were listening in to tell me what the most mispronounced word in the English language is. They all ventured a guess, and they all were indeed candidates. But none mentioned my favorite word, which I have been trying to hammer home for years. Since I have no well-established or well-known platform from which to listen, I am working on this project one person at a time, in most cases. I am not like E. F. Hutton, to whom everyone listens when he speaks, and I am a lone advocate for the word, crying in the wilderness. Of course most millennials would not remember this ad, although it disappeared from our lexicon only a few years ago.
I proffered the word ‘dissect’ and the professor immediately stated that the word was pronounced ‘disect’ as there was only one ‘s.’ I replied that there were two ‘s’s, so the following vowel, an ‘e,’ would require the short sound, since the ‘i’ immediately preceded the first ‘s.’ After a spirited debate, I showed him on my phone that the word was pronounced ‘dis-sect.’ He stated that I was looking in an American dictionary, and the British had the leg up on the English language. Not to be outdone, I Googled the English Oxford dictionary. Again, that dictionary stressed that the word is dis-sect, since the prefix ‘di-‘ means two, and when something is dissected, it is cut into more than two parts, and the example given was that the crowd dissected the prime minister’s position on a given subject. Bi- is also a prefix meaning two, so if we only cut something into two parts, we have a perfectly good word, bisect, to describe the activity. I won this one, as the worthy professor admitted his error and that of most others with whom he associated! I still haven’t heard any one say:
di-ssatisfied; a-ssembled; di-ssembled; di-ssertation; di-ssention, etc.
You get the point!