‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Divided Over Mispronunciation of Larynx (2024)

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the July 1 episode of Jeopardy!]

It’s a common debate among Jeopardy! fans: mispronunciations and how they’re judged. It came up during the July 1 episode, with contestant Matt Brooks.

The healthcare IT analyst from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Zoe Strassfield, a park ranger & writer from Water Mill, New York, faced off with returning champion Cat Pisacano, a nurse from New York, New York (who had a one-day total of $11,500). During the Jeopardy! round, at a point at which Brooks was leading $6,200 to Pisacano’s $4,600 and Strassfield was in the red with -$1,000, he rang in for the $400 clue in Taking You to School. It read: “Anatomy: There are both false & true vocal cords in this hollow, tubular structure, also called the voice box.” His pronunciation of larynx (larnyx) led to host Ken Jennings slowly telling him, “Oh, yes, we will take that” before repeating the word. The debate over that pronunciation dominated the comments of the Reddit thread for this episode.

However, as was also pointed out, it’s a pronunciation that had been accepted twice before: the November 14, 1997 and March 27, 2006 games. In fact, in the latter, host Alex Trebek called it “a common pronunciation.” And in the former, player Sahir Islam’s score was adjusted before Final Jeopardy! following the verification that “’larynex’ is an acceptable pronunciation for ‘larynx.’”

And some fans did agree or find evidence that it is. “Googling shows that it’s one of the most commonly mispronounced words in English. I’m old and never heard anyone use the mispronunciation – but it also rarely comes up in conversation,” one noted, adding, “So, the eternal question is whether Jeopardy should accept a common mispronunciation. Arguably, following the spelling rule that spelling doesn’t matter if the pronunciation is the same – the answer would be no. And yet, we have this today …”

Added another viewer, “In American parlance I feel like it’s extremely common to hear larynx pronounced like ‘larnyx’ – I have to imagine that if a mispronunciation is common enough colloquially they might feel compelled to accept it. So for that reason I didn’t feel super strongly about this ruling either way.”


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One fan understands the judges erring on the contestant’s side, noting some other commonly-mispronounced words, including “nuclear” and grouping “larynx” in with it. But that person also notes the “frustrating” part of it “is that there doesn’t seem to be any clear, consistently enforced rule about stuff like that,” citing Austin Rogers’ pronunciation of sherbet and the judges ruling against Rob Russell for foliage.

“I’m inclined to say that if it’s a reasonable pronunciation from the spelling of the word, it should be OK, because that means the contestant has learned it but perhaps only read it, whereas if it’s not a reasonable phonetic-adjacent pronunciation based on the spelling, that should be wrong,” another wrote, agreeing that “the problem is the lack of consistency” on the show.

“I feel like ‘larinex’ is a reasonable way to pronounce ‘larynx’ phonetically though,” one person posted. “It’s just pronouncing the Y a bit differently and ‘nx’ is ‘nex.’”

The question of whether it could be a regional pronunciation also came up, but some fans can’t get past their disbelief that Brooks’ answer was accepted.

“How in the world did they accept ‘larnyx’ as a correct response for ‘larynx’? They say pronunciation doesn’t count, but they routinely count answers wrong when the spelling and pronunciation don’t go together – ‘larnyx’ is just not a conceivable way to pronounce ‘larynx,’” according to one viewer. “We were expecting them to come back and correct the score on that and they didn’t. It really soured the whole game for me.” Another agreed “that was unbelievable,” saying the way Brooks pronounced it made “a totally different (nonsensical) word.”

One viewer called it “mystifying” and noted, “It flies in the face of a lot of the rulings I’ve seen (although, of course, I can’t think of a specific one now) which seemed more minor.”

In other words, what seems to be a common thread is a call for consistency when it comes to ruling involving pronunciation. But what do you think? What did you think of Matt Brooks’ pronunciation? Let us know in the comments section, below.

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‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Divided Over Mispronunciation of Larynx (2024)


‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Divided Over Mispronunciation of Larynx? ›

Brooks answered "larynx" but pronounced it like "lare-uh-nix," to which Jennings

Kenneth Wayne Jennings III (born May 23, 1974) is an American game show host, former game show contestant, and author. He is best known as the current host of the syndicated quiz show Jeopardy!. Jennings was born in Seattle, Washington but grew up in South Korea and Singapore.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Ken_Jennings
hesitantly replied, "Oh, yes, we will take that," while also restating the word with the correct pronunciation. 'Jeopardy' contestant Matt Brooks.

What was mispronounced on Jeopardy? ›

The clue read: “Anatomy: There are both false & true vocal cords in this hollow, tubular structure, also called the voice box.” He answered “larnyx,” mispronouncing larynx.

What nationality is Ken Jenning? ›

Kenneth Wayne Jennings III was born on May 23, 1974, in Edmonds, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. His father was a lawyer employed overseas, and Jennings spent 15 years growing up in South Korea and Singapore where his father worked. Upon returning to the United States, Jennings attended the University of Washington.

Where did Ken Jenning go to college? ›

Jennings, who was raised in a devout Mormon family, attended college at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle and Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah. He served a two-year religious mission in Madrid between attending UW and BYU.

Can you misspell in Final Jeopardy? ›

According to "Jeopardy!" rules, spelling does not usually matter — but phonetic pronunciation does: "Written responses to the Final Jeopardy! clue do not have to be spelled correctly, but they must be phonetically correct and not add or subtract any extraneous sounds or syllables."

What was the pronunciation problem on Jeopardy? ›

Everyone's favorite answer-and-question quiz show sparked controversy this week when host Ken Jennings accepted a mispronounced response from a contestant who went on to win the game. While playing the $400 clue in the "Taking You to School" category, contestant Matt Brooks responded with an odd pronunciation.

Is Hannah on Jeopardy a man or woman? ›

Wilson spoke with The Chronicle by phone from her home in Chicago, where she's lived for 17 years, about her success on the show, her Bay Area roots and the experience of being a publicly visible transgender woman.

How much does Ken Jenning get paid to host Jeopardy? ›

How much does Ken Jennings make on Jeopardy!? Ken Jennings makes $4 million per year as Jeopardy!'s host, according to a report by Puck News in December 2023. His former co-host Mayim Bialik, who left Jeopardy! in 2023, also made $4 million per year.

What was Alex Trebek's salary? ›

One of the most significant contributors to Alex Trebek's wealth was his role as the host of Jeopardy!. Trebek earned an annual salary of $18 million from the show, a figure that underscores his value to the program. Over his 37-year tenure, he taped 46 days a year, shooting five episodes per day.

Who has won the most money on Jeopardy? ›

Brad Rutter is the biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy! and briefly held the record for biggest cumulative game show winnings for any U.S. game show contestant. Rutter retained the record for Jeopardy!

Why did Ben Chan lose final Jeopardy? ›

champion Ben Chan. Ben's streak came to an end on Tuesday after he misnamed the Shakespeare character Benedick in Final Jeopardy! and was defeated by Lynn Di Vito, a retired museum educator from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Can you wager $0 in Final Jeopardy? ›

It's a living document which states that: “In the event all three contestants have $0 (zero) or minus amounts at the end of 'Double Jeopardy! ', no Final Jeopardy! round would be played.”

Has Jeopardy ever repeated a question? ›

' Season 40 Will Use Repeat Questions and Contestants Due to WGA Strike and Increase Runner-Up Winnings.

What was the unfair question on Jeopardy? ›

The answer was "What is unstrung?" and host Ken Jennings replied, "You had to notice the violin was unstrung...

What mistake did Jeopardy make? ›

The goof happened just minutes into the game when viewers were mistakenly shown the image of all three contestants' final scores. Host Mayim Bialik was introducing contestants Jackson Jones, Justin Bolsen and Maya Wright, all finalists in the show's High School Reunion Tournament.

What is the most negative someone has been on Jeopardy? ›

But among the many people watching the tournament with great interest was another Jeopardy! record-setter, one whose title is more ignominious: Stephanie Hull, who, on March 12, 2015, ended the game with the lowest score in Jeopardy! history, -$6,800.

Which Russian writer name was pronounced wrong on Jeopardy? ›

The answer was Russian writer and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. All three gave that answer but none pronounced it to the satisfaction of host Mayim Bialik.


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