Test Your Pronunciation Skills with This “Announcer’s Test”


WQXR, a New York radio station, used to give an “Announcer’s Test” that goes like this:

The old man with the flaccid face and dour expression grimaced when asked if he were conversant with zoology, mineralogy, or the culinary arts. ‘Not to be secretive,’ he said, ‘I may tell you that I’d given precedence to the study of genealogy. But since my father’s demise, it has been my vagary to remain incognito because of an inexplicable, lamentable, and irreparable family schism. It resulted from a heinous crime, committed at our domicile by an impious scoundrel. To err is human … but this affair was so grievous that only my inherent acumen and consummate tact saved me.

Read the 25 italicized words and see how many of them you can pronounce correctly. It is said that getting 20 out of 25 of these “stumpers” was considered excellent.

The New Yorker film critic Brendan Gill (1914 – 1997) also tried this test on his radio program “On the Town with Brendan Gill” by reading it live on air.

How many words did you get correctly? Note that several of these words have a number of alternative pronunciations. Also, when I did a casual scan of around a dozen different dictionaries, I found more alternative pronunciations. So, it can be said that there is a large number of approaches to ace this test.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

18 thoughts on “Test Your Pronunciation Skills with This “Announcer’s Test”

  1. Awesome, Edmark. Did a little cheating, quick-read first as I would always do, then tested. I did OK, but not the italics added difficulty, as meant. Great post and good practice for anyone who sits behind a “Mike”.


  2. I pulled my ten year old over and asked him to give it a try. Two words kind of threw him. Congratulated him and he admitted he had no idea what he just read or what most of the words meant. My little parrot. I took some time and told him what each word meant, and what the piece really was, about some poor guy’s family drama messing up what he wanted to do. Heh. Very, very cool.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that “impious” is one of those words which have alternative pronunciations; if not, I may have gotten it wrong. Otherwise, I don’t know why this would be a difficult “test” for any well-read person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I read, they had a list of “accepted” pronunciations and they may not accept some of the alternatives. Of course, there’s no way for us to know the accepted pronunciations. But I agree. I don’t think that it’s “that” difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Didn’t find these particularly tricky. In the U.S., “dour” usually rhymes with “tower,” but my father always pronounces it the alternate way, like “tour.” I encountered “heinous” in a book, when I was in grade school, gathered that it meant something bad, and confused it somehow with “hyena,” as in “hyena-like behavior,” and so decided to pronounce it “hyeen-ish.”

    Liked by 3 people

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