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.