Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers When I use a word…

Say cee

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 09 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:611
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist
  1. Oxford

    First a simple exercise in pronunciation: centimetre, cerebellum, biceps, hydrocele. So far so good. Now how about encephalopathy. Come again? In all probability, if you are British, although you will have pronounced the letter c in each of the first four examples soft (like the letter s), in encephalopathy you will have pronounced it hard (like the letter k). Why that should be I don't know (and you're allowed to feel smug if you didn't). Perhaps the preceding n in encephalopathy makes you want to pronounce the c hard, but if so what about (say) concentric and cancer?

    Now how about cephalosporin? Hard again in all probability, although there is no preceding letter of any sort this time. Here the habit of …

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