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120456.  Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:08 pm Reply with quote

I was sorry to hear the usually dependable Stephen Fry on the November 24th broadcast on BBC2 pronounce "dissection" as though it meant to cut into two rather than to cut apart. For such a transgression he should surely be stripped of his University Challenge badge -- or at the very least, striped of it.

122228.  Thu Nov 30, 2006 9:45 am Reply with quote

So I wasn't the only one! My father (a GP for much of his life) passed on to me his obsession with this word. It's nearly a lost cause, but I would have thought Stephen of all people would know! In fact I found this forum only because I was searching for a way to contact him and point it out.

It's not just the derivation, there's a double 's' for those who aren't sure. Glad there's one more pedant out there! (I suspect this forum is home to many, must explore further!)

122288.  Thu Nov 30, 2006 11:57 am Reply with quote

Welcome, Cooroo, to what may be the world's haven for pedantry.

122365.  Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:10 pm Reply with quote

For the non-english speakers (or just me): do you mean you should pronounce the first syllable to rhyme with "hiss" rather than with "dice" ? or the other way around... Always eager to learn ;-)

122382.  Thu Nov 30, 2006 4:35 pm Reply with quote

The first syllable rhymes with hiss, Heleendje. What tells you that it's pronounced that way is the spelling - a double letter shortens the preceding vowel.

There is a word bisect, meaning to divide in two, as well as dissect. As you can see, bisect only has one s in it, and the first syllable rhymes with dice.

gerontius grumpus
123177.  Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:49 am Reply with quote

This is something of an obsession with me too.
I agree with harker that if it was pronounced to rhyme with 'high section' it would only have one S and it would mean the same as 'bisection'.
It's just simple logic.
In Britain it was generally pronounced the correct way before the late sixties.

582583.  Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:56 am Reply with quote

Such a relief that others are as irritated as I am about the pronunciation of DISSECT. Many broadcasters (no, make that most broadcasters) pronounce the word as high sect, and I find myself shouting at the radio or televison that there is no such word; apart from the one in the Urban Dictionary, which has a totally different definition....

582897.  Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:04 am Reply with quote

Desideratum, you are by no means the only person who doesn't like "die-sect". I fear that your battle is destined to be a losing one though - see post 518279 for another discussion of this topic which contains some usage figures.

741607.  Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:18 am Reply with quote

First post, so hello to one and all. I have registered specifically to add my two penn'orth to this debate, the matter having been a bugbear of mine for quite some time.

At the risk of appearing to be trying to out-pedant previous contributors, I feel it worth pointing out that it's not the presence of the double 's' which decides the pronunciation; it's the attachment of the prefix 'dis' (rhyming with 'hiss') to the word 'section'. Remember that words such as 'disappear' and 'disappoint' also have a short 'i' sound in the first syllable, even though there is no double 's' involved, and so the "correct" pronunciation of dissection would still apply even if the double 's' was not present.

I've often wondered where this common misapprehension comes from. It's easy to say that it arises from confusion with the word 'bisect', but I'm not convinced that the latter is used in everyday speech with sufficiently greater frequency than the former for such a confusion to arise.

741609.  Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:20 am Reply with quote

Welcome spartacus, and let me be the first to point out that I am not Spartacus.

FWIW I agree with you!

741634.  Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:28 am Reply with quote

English is a fascinating language, if only because it doesn't always follow it's own rules :)

Dissection has a French root, so that often dictates how it should be pronounced. I think the mispronounciation is probably down to Bisection and Anatomisation being associated with this word.

780666.  Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:00 am Reply with quote

I wouild dieseminate and in no way diesimulate or diesemble my diesatisfaction with and diesent from the great dieservice done by ignorant presenters and announcers in programmes who diesipate diesonant mis- (Sorry! I mean mys-) pronunciations of relatively uncommon words through associating them with others that are quite diesimilar in origin. Apart from their other standard howlers, such as reguly, pertickerly, eksetera, Febyoury, fienance, coevert, keymotherapy [a brand of key-hole surgery, presumably] and pale-leeography, to name but a few, why do so many, even on soi-disant scientific programmes, mindlessdly rhyme "dissect" with "bisect". in the same way as our American cousins rhyme covert (an alternative form of covered) with overt in what I call the CIA pronunciation? I suppose the BBC is far too occupied with ratings rather than quality to diesociate itself from these diesolute persons but could it not pity our ears at least by trying to diesuade them from such solecisms on pain perhaps of being exiled to Diss in Norfolk to learn the proper value of the syllable?


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