Hypercorrection is a linguistic phenomenon which may take any of the following forms:
- an elaborate, prescriptively based correction of common usage, often introduced in an attempt to avoid vulgarity or informality, that results in wording commonly considered clumsier than the usual, colloquial usage;
- usage that many informed users of a language consider incorrect, but that the speaker or writer uses through misunderstanding of prescriptive rules, often combined with a desire to seem formal or educated;
- usage that is correct in another language but is not required in English.
- (also called overcompensation): the effect that results when a student of a new language has learned that certain phones of his or her original language must usually be replaced by another in the studied language, but has not learned when not to replace them (or has learned, but must consciously remind himself of the exceptions and hence sometimes forgets not to replace). (Compare overregularization, which is analogous in that the automatic overriding of a rule must be mastered.) Alternatively the rules for replacement may be applied twice over, as if the relevant word in the studied language were one existing in the original language, thus needing further modification to sound "right" in the studied language.
Unlike some other languages
, such as Italian
(Accademia della Crusca
(Icelandic Language Institute
) or Spanish
(Real Academia Española
has no single supreme authoritative body that governs whether any given usage will fall into the category of correct
. Nonetheless, within certain groups of users of English, some of which are quite large, certain usages are indeed considered either (1) unduly elaborate adherence to formal rules instead of rules of popular, widespread, or common usage, or (2) mis- or ill-informed changing of correct
, but seemingly informal
, usage into wording that is incorrect
but seemingly formal
Preposition at the end of a clause
Apocryphally, Winston Churchill
is said to have replied to a hypercorrective memo with the phrase "This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put" or a similar construction
. This is an example of hypercorrection used as parody
: Churchill went beyond creating a grammatically correct sentence to mock the elaborate refusal to end a clause in a preposition
(or insistence on placing the preposition before the relative pronoun
); he treated the adverbial particles up
as prepositions. They are actually part of the phrasal verb put up with
and their placement before put
is extremely unusual.
Prescription against such constructions as "Where is the party at?" is not necessarily related to the prescription against using a preposition to end a sentence. The adverb where in such questions usually means "at what place", making the final at redundant.
Jack Lynch, assistant professor
of English at Rutgers University
, describes another example of hypercorrection:
- We're taught as children —and beginning English learners are told— "You don't say, 'Me and you went to the movies'; it should be 'you and I.'" And a lot of people, therefore, internalize the rule that "you and I" is somehow more proper, and they end up using it in places where they shouldn't —such as "He gave it to you and I," when it should be "He gave it to you and me.
The rule is that the pronoun that would stand in isolation is the one to use: if "I went to the movies", then "You and I went to the movies"; if "He gave it to me", then "He gave it to you and me".
In his 1985 single Run to You, Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams sings "She/ says her love for me will never die/ But that'd change/ if she ever found out about you and I". (This is likely to be as much for the sake of rhyme as a grammatical error.)
Similar confusion between subject and object pronouns occurs with the relative/interrogative pronoun who and whom. As cases are dying out in English, many native speakers no longer understand the distinction between the subject "who" and the object "whom". Again, it is easy to remember proper usage by comparing the forms of "who/whom/whose" with those of "he/him/his".
- He is someone to whom I owe a great deal. ("I" is subject, "whom" (relating to "he") the object)
- He is someone who is a great individual. ("who" is subject of the side clause)
- He is someone whose help I appreciate. ("whose" is adjunct to help, the side clause's subject)
On the basis of this confusion, a speaker might make hypercorrections.
- He is someone whom is a great individual.
Another form of pronoun hypercorrection seems to originate in the speaker's or writer's desire to appear educated or refined rather than in understanding of the usual usage of pronouns; this hypercorrection is the use of reflexive pronouns in places properly occupied by other pronouns. The reflexive pronouns in English are myself, yourself, thyself (archaic), himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. Reflexive pronouns are properly used when the direct or indirect object of the verb is the same noun as the subject: for example, in "She dresses herself", the same person is designated by she in the subject and by herself in the object. Hypercorrection includes all non-appositive uses of the reflexive pronoun (1) as subject and (2) as object when the object is not the same person or thing as the subject. For example,
- "Josh and myself went shopping" should be "Josh and I went shopping". The person designated by myself is in the subject, and so is properly designated by I.
- "Sam wants to give yourself a gift" should be "Sam wants to give you a gift". The person designated by yourself is not the same person as the one designated by Sam, and so is properly designated by you.
- "Joe likes myself and Alex" should be "Joe likes me and Alex" (or Alex and me). The person designated by myself is not the same person as the one designated by Joe, and so is properly designated by me.
(Appositive use of reflexive pronouns is not hypercorrection: e.g., "I, myself, went shopping", "Sam gave you, yourself, a gift", "Joe heard me, myself, in the kitchen", and "The students, themselves, are intelligent". Reflexive pronouns used this way are called intensive pronouns and are grammatically appropriate.)
Hypercorrection can also affect spelling. For example, in standard English the word "its" (belonging to it) has no apostrophe (similarly "hers", "ours" etc.). Some people therefore believe that it is more correct to spell the possessive of "one" without an apostrophe, as in "It is sometimes best to keep ones thoughts to oneself", though standard usage is "one's". In the same way, many writers wrongly omit the apostrophe from "children's". Similar mistaken pedantry (in reverse) may lie behind the common misspelling of "till" as "'til
Hypercorrection also occurs when speakers with non-standard accent
backgrounds, in altering their speech to make it more similar to a form considered standard, duplicate certain sound shifts
not only where those shifts are appropriate in mimicking
the target accent, but also in similar but inappropriate areas. For example, speakers who pronounce both t and d as [ɾ]
, so that the t
and the d
have the same sound, may, in an attempt to formalize, pronounce lady
[ˈleɪ.ti]. They may also attempt to separate the sounds by sharpening the t
so that it is almost given its own accent, helping to distinguish it from d
or [ɾ], but causing a noticeable disruption of the typical flow in colloquial speech.
Because the letters -er are often pronounced as schwa (ə) in some varieties of English, some will overcorrect non-er schwas to -er, as in "Rockerfeller" and "Americer". Overcompensation can occur with an among speakers trying to ensure pronunciation of d in and, and with the participial -en suffix among speakers hoping to ensure pronunciation of g in the -ing suffix.
Many English speakers take unnecessary care to mispronounce "espresso", a coffee brewing technique developed in Italy, as "expresso" (despite the fact that Italian has no "x"). This may be hypercorrection, or it may be simple assimilation to the English word "express". This also happens with the word "escape", which many people turn to excape, perhaps because ex- means "out from" in Latin. In the dystopic future portrayed in the movie Idiocracy, the form excape has become standard.
Another area of hypercorrection involves Greek
- and Latin
-looking words like octopus
. The spurious plural octopi
likens the octopus
to Latin nouns of the Second Declension
that form plurals in -i
. (Were there actually a classical
plural of octopus
, it would be octopodes
.) Words such as rhinoceros
(which in Latin is the dative plural of omnis
), and ignoramus
(which in Latin is a plural, first-person
form of a verb
) are sometimes inflected
in the same way, although some much more commonly than others; none of these examples' sources would be inflected in that way in Latin or Greek. Virus
sometimes gets the pseudoclassical
plural form virii
, which presumes Latin *virius
. An even less sensible plural is penii
(for singular penis
; the true Latin plural is penes
), which is not uncommon in Internet speak
, but in cases such as this the intention is usually ironic. Occasionally, one sees similar plurals for non-classical words, such as caucus
, or invented words
such as conundrum
. A more evenly balanced question is the correct plural of memorandum
. If these words are gerundive
adjectives turned into nouns ("something to be remembered" and "something to be referred"), then the correct plurals are memoranda
. The prevailing view, however, is that they are gerunds
: "it should be remembered", "it should be referred". If so, then there is no correct Latin plural, and the correct English plurals are memorandums
All of these words take the regular English inflection in -s or -es, but a few of the hypercorrected forms have passed into such common usage as to be considered acceptable by some, despite their origins. It is unclear how much words like penii are used as wordplay. Donald Trump would, on the reality TV show The Apprentice, often refer to the contestants as his apprenti. It is assumed that Trump actually knows that the plural of apprentice is apprentices and not apprenti. An old joke involves a slightly tipsy professor who orders a martinus instead of a martini, because "If I wanted more than one, I would ask for it in the plural".
Yet more hypercorrection deals with the pronunciation of the -es plural forms of certain English nouns. Although the most common way of pluralizing a noun in English is to add -s or -es to the end of the singular form, there are many exceptions. One such exception involves some words whose singular forms end in -is and the plurals of which are formed simply by the replacement of -is with -es: e.g., crisis and crises, or neurosis and neuroses. The standard pronunciation of such plurals has the final syllable equivalent to the sound of the English word ease [iːz]. Yet some speakers use the same ease [iːz] pronunciation for the -es endings of nouns whose plurals are formed in the ordinary way, by the addition of -es: e.g., processes (plural of process). The correct pronunciations of words such as processes and biases have the final syllable equivalent to that of houses and witches: /ɪz/.
Room for confusion exists in some homographic plurals, where the final "-es" pronunciation depends on the word's meaning. For example, axes is for the plural of axis, but /ˈæksɨz/ for the plural of axe. The pronunciation of bases similarly depends on whether its singular is basis or base. Hypercorrective replacement of /ɨz/ with /iːz/ in plurals may result partly from confusion over these homographs.
An example of hypercorrecting a word rather than a pronunciation is found when law students —who have absorbed the idea that one should always say "British" rather than "English" (e.g., "the King of England
"), so as not to exclude Welsh, Scots, Northern Irish, etc.— balk at using the term "English law
". However, legally this term is correct, since Scotland
, the Isle of Man
, and (to a lesser extent) Northern Ireland
have legal systems
separate from that of England
. It is correct, in some cases, to speak of "British law", but usually "English law" will be more accurate (unless the topic of discussion is Scottish, Manx, or Northern Irish law).
When pronunciation and spelling of foreign loan words
are erroneously based on rules that apply to other
foreign words, but not to those in question, the phenomenon is called hyperforeignism
. The following are examples.
Non-native French speakers may erroneously omit the last consonant
/z/, in the chess term en prise
, and in prix fixe
. Those who know a little French omit the final s
although it is pronounced by the French, as well as in many French proper nouns such as Saint-Saëns
, and Berlioz
, among many others which do not adhere to standard rules of French pronunciation. Similarly, the phrase "coup de grâce
" is often mispronounced by omitting the final consonant "s", which is actually pronounced in French (see also entry Coup de Grâce
Forte, meaning a person's strong point, is now usually pronounced with two syllables, under the influence either of the Italian musical term forte or of the many French loan words ending in é. This meaning was originally a metaphor drawn from fencing: the forte of the blade is its thick part, and the foible is the thin part. (In fencing context, it is still pronounced "fort".) The term is derived from French, where the equivalent word, in both the "strength" and the fencing meanings, is spelled fort and , i.e., with a silent t.
Many native speakers of American English pronounce the word lingerie as [lɑnʒɜˈɹeɪ], excessively depressing the first vowel to sound more like a "typical" French nasal vowel, and rhyming the final syllable with English ray, by analogy with the many French loanwords ending in -é(e), -er, -et, and -ez. A closer English approximation of the native French [lɛ̃ʒəʀi] would be [læn.ʒə.ɹi].
Those who know a little French pronounce words such as Sartre as /sart/, although the French actually pronounce a short voiceless [ʁə] after the t. This even extends to words such as Louvre, which among some English speakers becomes /luv/. jejune [dʒəˈdʒuːn] or [dʒi'dʒuːn] is often taken to be a French word and pronounced 'je jeune' although it is in fact Latin in origin.
English speakers who pronounce the trade names "Moet" and "Noilly Prat" in what they quite reasonably imagine to be the French way, are unaware that the names of these particular beverages are pronounced by the French as though they were English words, exactly the way they are spelt. Surprisingly, a French bartender will understand perfectly when asked for "an Oily Prat".
French has always been the language most popularly taught in British schools, so a high proportion of British people have some French but no other foreign language, leading to the common impression that French pronunciation rules apply to all foreign languages. Popular errors arising from this problem are the Italian "al dente" becoming "al dontay", and the Russian boys' name Andrei becoming "Ondray", even on television news bulletins.
Spanish and Italian words
The English [eɪ] pronunciation of the French -ez
has been misapplied to Ruy López
, the name of a Spanish priest
, more properly approximated [ˌɾui-ˈlo.pɛθ]. Similarly, enchilada
can be heard as . The ch
of the Spanish
is often given a /ʃ/ ("sh") sound, by mistaken analogy to the standard French pronunciation of ch
. In standard Spanish it is /tʃ/ ("ch").
Regarded as especially undesirable is pronouncing a word with a semi-English, semi-foreign pronunciation at the same time. For example, some English-speakers wanting to sound Spanish have been known to pronounce junta like "hunte(r)". The word mezzo is in Italian, but, in musical context (mezzo soprano, mezzo forte), is often rendered /ˈmɛtsoʊ/. (In Italian, "z" is indeed pronounced "ts" in some words, but "mezzo" is not one of them; English speakers devoice it.)
English-speakers often pronounce Italian bruschetta with a "sh" instead of a "sk", through misunderstanding of the role of "h" in Italian or pronouncing the "sch" cluster as if it were German. The "sch" in Maraschino and in the brand-name Freschetta get the same treatment. Conversely, prosciutto is often mispronounced with "sk" instead of "sh" - whence the waiter's rule of thumb that prosciutto and bruschetta should always be served together to tourists to avoid a scene.
Similarly the z in (Spanish) chorizo or Ibiza is often pronounced with a "ts" instead of a "th" (as it is in Castilian Spanish - giving rise to the increasingly common English pronunication "Ibeefa") or "ss" (as it is in Southern Spain and South America - and, indeed, in Eivissa), possibly by confusion with Italian or German.
Many non-Spanish speakers attempt to sound more Spanish (even when speaking English) by pronouncing Barcelona as Barthelona (affecting the [θ] pronunciation of the /s/ phoneme when represented by "c" or "z", as is usual in Castilian Spanish). This is hypercorrective in that (a) the affectation is unnecessary (just as it is unnecessary to affect London to replace Londres in Spanish), and (b) both [θ] and [s] can be heard in Spain anyway, the latter in fact being used in the Catalan language. Spanish people are used to accent differences and do not proscribe either [s] or [θ].
The Italian gh, which is always a hard /g/, as in "spaghetti" and "Lamborghini," is pronounced by some as [dʒ] (j) or /ʒ/ (zh). Example: Ghirardelli, pronounced correctly in their commercials with a hard g, can sometimes be heard as /dʒɨrɑdɛlɪ/.
The word aphelion
can be hypercorrected to "ap-helion" by analogy with its antonym perihelion
. According to English convention it is correct to take the "ph" as an "f" sound as usual, because the ap(o)-
before a vowel with rough breathing (transliterated as "h") — the Greek is ἀφήλιον, and "ph" derived from "φ" is traditionally pronounced like "f" in English and most other modern languages. (The actual Ancient Greek
pronunciation of "φ", in all words and positions, was indeed an aspirated bilabial stop, sounding like English "p" followed by "h," the same sound as the hypercorrected "ap-helion", but this is not reflected in any other "ph" words in English.)
Dutch and Afrikaans words
In Dutch, the combination "sch" is pronounced [sx], except at the end of a word, when it is pronounced [s]. (In Afrikaans, the same combination is sometimes heard as [sk].) However, most English speakers pronounce it as [ʃ] ("sh") following the rules for German, in words such as Rooibosch and veldtschoen. (In the same way, there is a tendency to pronounce the combination "oe" as a German ö, instead of [uː] as in Dutch.)
Words from Asian languages
Some English-speakers (including the BBC radio news) mispronounce Beijing
with /ʒ/, even though the Mandarin Chinese
sound represented by the in Pinyin (/t͡ɕ/) is an affricate and thus closer to the English (/d͡ʒ/). Similarly, the j in the name of the Taj Mahal is often rendered /ʒ/, though a closer approximation to the Hindi/Urdu sound is /d͡ʒ/. (J in most other Roman-alphabet spellings of words associated with languages of India is best approximated /d͡ʒ/.)
Another example is the pronunciation of Punjab as [ˈpun.ʤɑb]; in the Anglo-Indian spelling convention, Hindi's neutral vowel is represented by the letter u with a sound similar to that of the u in English cup [ʌ].
Many English speakers pronounce "Genghis Khan" with a hard initial g as in "get", in accordance with the usual transliteration systems for Asian languages. In fact the original Mongolian name was something like Tchingiz, and the spelling "Genghis" was first used by Marco Polo, an Italian writing in French. A soft g as in "gentle", in accordance with the medieval pronunciation of both those languages, would therefore be closer to Marco Polo's intention as well as to the original name.
Hypercorrection arises in the use of diacritics in words from foreign languages. For example, habañero peppers is a misapplied analogy with jalapeño; the standard Spanish spelling has no tilde —habanero. The Italian word grande is sometimes spelled grandé by English-speakers— in some cafés, for example. It is also possible that the acute accent is used specifically to induce readers to pronounce the word at least semi-correctly, as [ˈgɹɑndeɪ] instead of [gɹænd] or [ɡʀɛ̃d]. Unintentional misuse of diacritics should not, however, be confused with intentional misuse, or use without concern for traditional function, as in the heavy-metal umlaut.
Hyperforeignism for comic effect
The silent "t" in "Report" in the title of the parody pundit show The Colbert Report is a hyperforeignism used for comedic effect. It is a play on the host's surname, Colbert (;), which is said to be French within the show's fictional back-story (though it is originally Irish).
In Oxford during the late 1980s it was common to hear the bookshop Blackwell's referred to as something akin to "Blah-wées" on the logic that the clutter of consonants sounded far too low-born for an Oxford institution. Similarly, certain newly-genteel South London suburbs were jocularly re-named "Clahm", "Ba-TER-zee-a", "St. Ockwell" and the like. More recently, the North London suburb of Crouch End, known for its upmarket brasseries and well-heeled population, has been dubbed 'CrOOsh-ON' in the French manner.
The name of Target stores in both Australia and the United States is pronounced by some in a tongue-in-cheek manner as if it were that of an upscale French boutique, , which is ironic for a large chain store.
In other languages
Modern Cantonese is currently undergoing a phonological shift, one of the changes being the dropping of the initial ng- consonant (). For instance, the word 牙#Cantonese (ngaa4, meaning "tooth"), ends up being pronounced aa4 (Note: Cantonese romanization provided using Jyutping). Prescriptivists tend to consider these changes as substandard and denounce them for being "lazy sounds" (懶音). However, in a case of hypercorrection, some speakers have started pronouncing words that should have a null initial using an initial ng-, even though according to historical Chinese phonology, only words with Yang tones (which correspond to tones 4, 5, and 6 in Cantonese) had voiced initials (which includes ng-). Words with Yin tones (1, 2, and 3) historically should have unvoiced or null initials. Because of this hypercorrection, words such as 愛#Cantonese (oi3, meaning "love"), which has a Yin tone, are pronounced by speakers with an ng- initial, ngoi3.
Speakers of some accents of Mandarin, particularly in the south of China and in Taiwan, pronounce the retroflex initials zh-, ch- and sh- as the alveolar initials z-, c- and s-. Such speakers may hypercorrect by pronouncing words that should start with z-, c- and s- as if they started with their retroflex counterparts.
In Taiwan, under the influence of Taiwanese (Min Nan), many people pronounce the initial f- as h-, and often hypercorrect by pronouncing the initial h- as f-. This is also noticeable in the Hakka population, where many words that begin in h- in Mandarin and Taiwanese begin in f- in Hakka. (Examples: 火, 花)
In standard Bulgarian and in the eastern dialects, the old yat letter is pronounced as я ("ya") when stressed and the following syllable does not contain the vowels и ("i") or е ("e"), and pronounced as е in all other cases. But in the western dialects it is always pronounced as е. Attempting to speak correctly, some speakers from Western Bulgaria mispronounce many words containing the yat letter - голями ("golyami"), желязни ("zhelyazni"), бяли ("byali"), видяли ("vidyali"), спряни ("spryani"), живяли ("zhivyali") instead of големи ("golemi"), железни ("zhelezni"), бели ("beli"), видели ("videli"), спрени ("spreni"), живели ("zhiveli"). This trend is especially common with past participles such as видяли.
Native Russian speakers sometimes hypercorrect foreign loanwords by palatalizing consonants: for instance, pronouncing modern as modyern. This partly arises from spelling conventions. In native Russian words, most consonants undergo palatalization before so-called "soft vowels" (or one could say these vowels are written after palatalized consonants).
However, many English and French loanwords in Russian that contain the Russian letter "е" (IPA:) do not follow this rule, because the nonpalatalized э, that would correctly represent the sound, is only supposed to be written at the beginning of a word or after another vowel (as in Aeroflot).
Examples include модерн (modern), энергия (energy), коктейль (cocktail), модель (model), шоссе (chaussé) and кафе (café). These are correctly pronounced more or less as in the source language, but the bold consonants in these words are sometimes palatalized by native speakers, which is regarded as a solecism and a shibboleth.
Other loanwords swing both ways, such as sexual (сексуальный). However, sources may vary depending on their level of prescriptivism. Examples of hyperforeignisms are found in Russian when loanwords (commonly older loanwords) contain consonants that should be palatalized. Yet some speakers, emphasizing the foreign quality of the word, do not palatalize them. For example: theme (тема), technical (технический), text (текст), museum (музей), gazette (газета) and effect (эффект).
West South Slavic languages
The syllables je and ije appear in Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin speech where Serbian has only variation in quality (length of the vowel) of e. Not every Serbian e becomes je or ije like in the other West Balkan countries. Serbian speakers may hypercorrect their dialect by either undersupplying or oversupplying the jes and the ijes.
Düsseldorf dialect versus Rhineland dialect
In German, the dialect spoken in the city of Düsseldorf and its surroundings heavily features the front 'ch' sound (aka the "ich sound", [ç]) where standard German calls for the 'sch' [ʃ] sound. Speakers with this accent would say 'Fich' [fɪç] instead of 'Fisch' [fɪʃ] (fish), and 'Tich' [tɪç] instead of 'Tisch' [tɪʃ] (table). This is due to a hypercorrection of the Rhineland accent prevalent in that area of Germany, an accent that often replaces the front 'ch' [ç] sound with the 'sch' [ʃ] sound. Attempting to avoid this error, speakers of the Düsseldorf accent hypercorrect it to an abundance of 'ch' [ç].
Genitive versus dative
Another example is use of the genitive case where the dative case is required. Colloquially, the genitive is often dropped in favor of the dative even if correct grammatical usage demands the genitive. Because language critics deride such substitution, many German speakers use the genitive even with prepositions that actually demand the dative (e.g., entgegen, entlang, gegenüber), seemingly under the false impression that the genitive is always right and the dative is always wrong, or at least that the genitive is a better form of the dative.
The French "Entrecôte" and "Pommes frites" more often than not are pronounced without the final "t" sound.
An example of hyperforeignism in Swedish is the common use of "chevré" in "chevré[ost]" for "chèvre cheese", which is quite different from the original French "chèvre". (Possibly by, false analogy with the Swedish "grevé" cheese [grevéost].)
Similarly "Entrecôte", is also often spelled "Entrecoté", yet more often than not pronounced without the ending "t" sound. (Prudery may be a factor here, since the Swedish word "kåt", sounding similar to "côte", means "horny".)
Versus West-Flemish dialect
The local dialects of the West-Flanders region do not use the Dutch "ch" /x/ (as in the Scottish 'Loch'). Instead they pronounce both 'g' and 'ch' as a soft 'h', whereas the correct Dutch way to pronounce it would be 'g'. For example, a West-Flemming would pronounce the phrase 'een gouden hart' (a golden heart) as 'een Houden hart'. Some older people, who grew up speaking nothing but their dialect, are unaware that there is a difference between 'g', 'ch' and 'h' altogether and trying to 'mimic' Dutch, they often overcompensate and pronounce every word they would normally pronounce with a 'h'-sound as a 'g'. This includes, words actually pronounced 'h'. In the example above they would go overboard and pronounce the phrase 'een gouden hart' as 'een gouden Gart'.
In a continuing folk tale an unspecified pastor of some unspecified West Flemish church wants to impress his flock by celebrating mass in flawless 'civilized' ABN Dutch. His 'civilized' Dutch consists out of pronouncing a 'ch' and 'g' correctly as /x/ (instead of the 'h' as West-Flemish dialect does). However to be absolutely sure, he also starts pronouncing the 'h' as /x/ even though he should keep pronouncing it as a 'h'. The effects are hilarious: Instead of praying for "De hele kerk" (the whole church) he ends up praying for "de gele kerk" (the yellow church) and the holy virgin ("de heilige maagd") becomes "de geilige maagd" (The virgin in heat). Finally he ends his sermon in asking what should be "de goede hulp van de Heer" (the good help of the Lord). Instead he asks for "de goede gulp van de geer" : the good trouser opening of the manure.
In the Middle Ages, the spelling of Latin was simplified in various respects: for example, ae and oe became e, and ch became c. Occasionally these changes were reversed, and e and c were sometimes expanded to ae (or oe) and ch, even when such spelling contradicted Classical Latin. For example, caelum was contracted to celum and re-expanded to coelum. These spellings are often preserved in English derivatives, including et cætera and et coetera (occasionally found as variants for et cetera); foetus (originally fetus); lachrymose, from lachryma (a false Hellenisation, originally lacrima, "a tear"); and schedule, from schedula (originally scedula).
Hebrew and Yiddish
Careful Hebrew speakers are taught to avoid the colloquial pronunciation of בדיוק (bediyyuq, "exactly") as [biˑ.ˈdjuk]. Many speakers accordingly pronounce להיות (lihyot, "to be") as if it were spelled "lehiyyot" ([lɛˑ.hiˑ.ˈjot]), though there is no grammatical justification for doing so.
It is well known that the vowel kamatz gadol, which in the accepted Sephardic pronunciation is rendered as /aː/, becomes /ɔ/ in Ashkenazi Hebrew (and therefore in Yiddish). On the other hand, the vowel kamatz katan, which is visually indistinguishable from kamatz gadol, is rendered as /o/ in both pronunciations. This leads to hypercorrections in both directions.
- The consistent pronunciation of all forms of kamatz as /a/, disregarding katan and chataf forms, could be seen as a hypercorrection, when Hebrew speakers of Ashkenazic origin attempt to pronounce Sephardic Hebrew (e.g. צהרים, "midday" as "tzaharayim", rather than "tzohorayim" as in standard Israeli pronunciation; the traditional Sephardi pronunciation is "tzahorayim"). This may however be an example of over-simplification rather than hypercorrection.
- Conversely, many older British Jews consider it more colloquial and "down-home" to say "Shobbes", "cholla" and "motza", though the vowel in these words is in fact a patach, which is rendered as /a/ in both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Hebrew. Other hypercorrections occur when speakers of Israeli (based on Sephardic) Hebrew attempt to pronounce Ashkenazi Hebrew, for example for religious purposes. The month of Shevat (שבט) is mistakenly pronounced "Shvas", as if it were spelled *שְׁבַת. In an attempt to imitate Polish and Lithuanian dialects, kamatz (both gadol and katan), which would normally be pronounced [ɔ], is hypercorrected to the pronunciation of cholam, [ɔj], rendering גדול ("large") as goydl and ברוך ("blessed") as boyrukh.
- Labov, William. 1966. "Hypercorrection by the Lower Middle Class as a Factor in Linguistic Change". In Sociolinguistics: Proceedings of the UCLA Sociolinguistics Conference, 1964. William Bright, ed. Pp. 84-113. The Hague: Mouton.
- Joshua Blau, On Pseudo-Corrections in Some Semitic Languages. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 1970.