What should I do???

I used to have a friend that always pronounced the wrought in wrought iron like roth as in Roth IRA.  One day I corrected her and she was really upset.  I got a speech that went something like…”You always think you are smarter than everyone else and what gives you the right to tell me I’m wrong?  You are such a snob.”

Clearly, I’d embarrassed her and hurt her feelings.  I also thought maybe I was a snob.  Maybe I did think I was smarter than everyone else…or at least maybe that’s how I acted.  Either way…I didn’t want to be like that.  I decided I was no longer going to correct anyone, even if I was positive they were saying something wrong.  Well…as my mom will tell you, I still correct her sometimes but she’s really the only one.  I won’t even do it to J unless he’s asking me a question.  Sometimes it’s really difficult not to say something and I cringe every single time I hear someone mispronounce something, but I generally keep my mouth shut. 

So here’s my current situation…my boss has two different letters of credit.  My supervisor keeps referring to these as “letter of credits”.  He has been saying this to everyone…my boss, the other employees here, the attorneys, the people at the bank.  He has now put “letter of credits” on my bosses financial statements…which will be seen by many people. 

No one he’s said this to has corrected him on it.  We have all just been saying it the right way and hoping he’ll catch on.  So far, no dice.  He’s still there with the “letter of credits”.  I feel like I should say something about it.  I’m thinking that a few minutes of embarrassment with me is better than repeated embarrassment with other people.  Although, it’s been a few months now…will he be annoyed that I didn’t say something sooner?  Should I just let it go?  If I do say something, what should I say?

To complicate matters…my supervisor and I don’t get along all that well and he already thinks I’m a bit of a pushy know-it-all.  I’m afraid that no matter what I say, he’ll be offended.  But I feel like I can’t keep letting him go around looking stupid.  This is also reflecting on my boss and I don’t want him to look stupid either.  I’m so conflicted.

So I am asking you…my dear readers…what should I do?  What would you do?


  1. So what if you know everything you’re just trying to educate the world. You’re being honest… it’s like if I had spinach in my teeth I’d want you to tell me… I’m the type that tells people.

    Seriously if your friend told me about a ROTH IRON fence I’d have to laugh… probably in her face… and then she’d feel even more stupid. You’re doing a public service by helping these people. (sorry I wouldn’t be rude to your friend but if she was a stranger I’d laugh about it).

    Bottom line – people pronounce things differently all the time… I often say ACROSS-T the road… instead of A-CROSS. My boyfriend called me on it and I’ve since tried to stop… however… when I talk about CRAYONS.. I call them CROWNS… drives him nuts… I think it’s a Maryland thing… hey at least I’ve learned to say WASH and not WAR-SH (I learned that when I was younger).

    • I had spinach in my teeth the other day and no one told me. I noticed it in the bathroom after I’d had a whole conversation with someone. I was mortified.

      And yes…sometimes I do feel it’s my responsibility to educate the world. Because I’m so smart 😉

  2. I feel that in general people are annoyed to be corrected. I know I am, even though its helpful at times. And I do correct people sometimes even though I know it annoys them. I think maybe you should tell him and be like oh I just noticed that you spelled this wrong on this financial statement. Just letting you know. He might still be annoyed though. In other news I apparently pronounce the word ‘Jail’ wrong. I say it like ‘gel’.

  3. Another pushy know-it-all chiming in with an ‘I’d tell him.’ Granted, my boss and I get along pretty well and he frequently comes to me for things like this (and anything else, really, I’m the fastest Googler in the office, lol). But, yeah, I’d tell him.

    Or correct the memo very obviously, send it to him for perusal and when/if he asks, explain. Kinda passive-aggressive, but sometimes it works well that way.

  4. Personally, I probably wouldn’t say anything – if you already don’t have a good relationship with him, then he probably won’t take it as helpful as you meant it. Also, if he has said to/in front of your boss and wasn’t corrected at that point, then you might be the only who notices…
    My Mom always said “amblee-ance” instead of ambulance and “tay-ger” for tiger

    • True story (or at least I’m told it was a true story)…Gene Hackman always says nucular instead of nuclear. (So did George W – which killed me…dude, you are the president…but whatever…don’t get me started on that guy.)

      Anyway, so Gene Hackman says nucular in a meeting with his agent and business managers. The junior business manager corrects his pronounciation. Mr. Hackman glares at him and tells him to get out. He refuses to ever work with him again.

      Apparently, no one told the junior business manager not to correct Mr. Hackman.

      An old boss told me that story as a warning never to correct the clients. Famous people aren’t used to being told they are wrong.

  5. That’s a pickle. What’s the hierarchy here? You-Supervisor-Boss? I’m wondering why the person in question hasn’t corrected the mistake. That’s who I would leave it to. I’ve had similar awkward situations, but mostly when it’s in writing. Like when my boss writes a funding proposal and starts sentences with “So” as in blah blah blah. So the work we do makes a big impact. Drives. Me. BANANAS! In most cases I just make the changes and tell her – I made some edits so it reads better. While we were writing content for our website she kept putting a “the” infront of our company name. I’d take them out, and she’d put them back in. I finally had to say something – it was getting ridiculous. I told her that I used to get stuck on that one too – since sometimes it just sounds better to put a the infront. But if you think of it like a store name ex. Chapters (or Borders for you Americans) you would never say “I’m going to the Chapters.” She saved face by saying she knew that and she was taking them out, and she didn’t know who was putting them in. I said maybe it was the other person we were working with (it wasn’t). She agreed. We all moved on, and I’ve never seen a “the” since.
    Best of luck!

    • As you can see above…I start sentences on the blog with so all the time. It’s a terrible habit, but I only do it on the blog. I never do it in professional writing…I swear!!!

  6. Okay, so this is kind of a hard one. I’m a corrector, I just am. My husband and i correct each other ALL THE TIME but we’re both in on it and both appreciate it because neither of us wants to look like an idiot in front of someone else. For the longest time he was saying “take for granite” which drove me CRAZY. Hellllllllo… it’s GRANTED. Ugh.

    BUT. I have been called out as rude before for correcting someone else’s pronunciation of something, so I’ve toned it down a LOT. I have one friend that always talks about having great ‘ideals’ about stuff, which makes me crazy, but I know she’d feel stupid and be offended if I said anything, so I don’t. I just cringe every time I hear it.

    In this situation, it’s merely professional and you’d think, above all else, that he would want to be correct in his writing. But I’m just not sure that I’d take the chance. I mean, if you already don’t have the best relationship with him AND he’s been doing it uncorrected for a while now, he might be more offended than anything. Tread lightly, my friend.

  7. Ohhhhh, this is a hard time. I’ve been corrected before, and while I hate it, I appreciate it in the end. There’s nothing worse than pronouncing a word incorrectly (which I have the habit of doing despite the fact that I was an English major and should have a relatively good grasp of the language).

    Is there another coworker you can put up to the task? Or maybe you can bring it up to him when you’re alone and just say something like, “I always thought it was ‘letters of credit?'” He has to know one way or the other that he’s saying it wrong… especially if he’s contacting your boss and other execs.

  8. Maybe someone has already suggested this but maybe you can correct him anonymously? Leave a typed note on his desk? Send a letter? An anonymous email?

    He should be corrected because this is a professional situation but if your relationship is already strained you may want to tread lightly here.

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