Monday, 2 July 2012
Posted by M.H. Forsyth
Pronunciation is a funny thing. Man has walked on the moon, but he will never be able to say "Peggy Babcock" quickly ten times in a row. Then there are the lovely tongue twisters like "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sick sheep". But sometimes you need only a single word, and that word is psithurism.
The OED explains how to pronounce it: a P, an S, a short I (as in pit), an unvoiced TH (as in thin), a UR (as in curious), and an ism as in communism.
So try it. Psithurism. It can be done, but it takes a few goes. Now, can you guess what it means? That's right. It's a whispering sound like the rustling of leaves in the wind.