A special kind of dyslexia

dyslexiaWords beginning with per- or pre- can tempt you to reverse letters, even if you don’t have dyslexia. Some cases seem related to regional pronunciations, and others are just laziness. A few of them are funny and, of course, you would never say them.

But others are probably lurking in your vocabulary somewhere and you might be surprised to learn their correct spellings and pronunciations.

How often have you heard someone say this:

  • I need to get my perscription refilled. (prescription)
  • This course has some perequisites. (prerequisites)
  • Do whatever you like – it’s your perogative. (prerogative)
  • Who can perdict the winner? (predict)
  • There’s a perponderance of corruption in the city council. (preponderance)
  • I just love blackberry perserves. (preserves)

And the reverse, in writing as well as in speaking:

  • The group will preform a Beethoven symphony. (perform)
  • The runners were covered with prespiration. (perspiration)
  • Line A must be prependicular to Line B. (perpendicular)
  • If you presist in this behavior, you will be punished. (persist)
  • I can’t help it – I’m so preturbed about the situation! (perturbed)
  • What are you – a prevert? (pervert)

More of these reversals happen in pronunciation than in writing, but I’ve seen several of them written. By people who should know better. Some could be typos, and a few will not trigger a Spellchecker alert because they are legitimate words. Preform, for example, is a word. It just doesn’t mean the same thing as perform. If you’re the least bit uncertain about a pre- or per- word, you might want to look it up before using it in a business presentation, a document, or even an email or Facebook post.

If you perfer to be preceived as percise, prehaps I can presuade you to take percautions before you become a prepetrator of this less-than-prefect practice, placing you in a percarious position … premanently.

But if you’re determined to insult someone, I must admit that “PREE-vert” has a deliciously nasty ring to it.

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