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Language tip of the week: Corp. or corps?

In this weekly post, we bring English language learners useful tips on tricky areas of the language. These tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc) which learners often find difficult. This week’s language tip is about the differences in pronunciation between Corp. and corps.

Here in the UK, there is a long-running news story involving Rupert Murdoch and his news empire.  The name of Mr Murdoch’s empire is ‘News Corporation’ and is commonly shortened to ‘News Corp.’, Corp. being the accepted shortening of the word corporation. There is extensive coverage of this story on the radio and television and I have noticed that some of the newsreaders are having a little bit of trouble pronouncing this shortened word.

One of the many interesting things about the English language is how influenced it is by other languages.  There is a word corps, which derives from the French word for body and is pronounced like the English word core.  Both corps and corpse derive from the same Latin root, corpus, meaning ‘body’; but we also commonly use corps itself to refer to a ‘body’ of people working together (although corps actually comes via the French corps d’armée).  Examples are army corps, diplomatic corps and press corps.  Perhaps this is where the confusion over ‘News Corp.’ stems from.  Even though the term press corps is in common usage, ‘News Corp.’ should most definitely have a ‘p’ sound at the end, as it refers to the word corporation and not the word corps.

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Beth Penfold

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