A Good Woman, Little Women

A Good Woman, Little Women

Continuing my series of mnemonic phrases that teach you to pronounce difficult words correctly, I turn to[1] Hollywood for help.

The essential terms ‘woman’ and ‘women’ cause no end of difficulties. The short “u” sound in the first syllable of ‘woman’ is not that common in English but we do find[2] it in ‘good’, so the title of the 2004 film starring[3] Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson, A Good Woman serves our purposes perfectly.

An even more euphonic term is ‘Worcester woman’ – a British sociological term for a working-class mother who is not very interested in politics and lives in a small town such as Worcester. However, it is impossible to get Americans to[4] pronounce Worcester as “woosta” /’wustə/, so I’m not even going to try with non-English speakers.

The mnemonic title to teach non-Anglos to pronounce women as “wimin” is undoubtedly that of Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age novel Little Women (1868), which has been made into countless movies.

For more footnoted texts, visit www.yes-mag.com

[1] to turn to – ask, (in this case) go to

[2] do find – (emphatic) find, encounter

[3] starring – (in this case) whose central actors were

[4] to get Americans to (get-got-got) – to make Americans, to teach Americans to

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