On being a comptrol freak


We shall exercise a modicum of restraint with our lashings this week, for this particular error you are making is understandable. (But let this not be confused with forgivable; it is not, and no errors are.)

You are pronouncing “comptroller” wrong.

If you’re using the word at all, you are likely referring to a public official who oversees and audits financial records. In the private sector, this person is generally known a “controller” and that is how this word is pronounced.

Despite of the salient “mpt,” comptroller is pronounced in precisely the same way as controller. That is: kən-ˈtrō-lər.

The confusing spelling of comptroller bears its origins to an awkward conflation of the French word “compte” (count) and the Middle English “countreroller” (someone who checks the copy of a roll or scroll). With this translinguistic portmanteau we discover the fountainhead from which this river of ignorance springs.

Please never do it again.

Sources: Wikipedia, Forbes, NPR