Alex Trebek never skipped a beat or stumbled over any word that would otherwise seem difficult. The late “Jeopardy!” game show host was always well versed and that’s because he did his research before he took the podium.
So how did Trebek learn the pronunciation of those difficult words? To him, it seemed like a logical place to look for assistance.
“There’s a thing called a dictionary,” the late Alex Trebek says in this Television Academy interview. “You should all learn to use it, and most people don’t.”
The comment comes about 19-and-a-half minutes in.
Alex Trebek on Pronouncing Words
The “Jeopardy!” game show host stands by his pronunciations. However, Trebek remembers the time that one viewer wrote him a letter, telling him that he said a word the wrong way.
“I’ve been corrected on pronunciation. I wrote a letter back to a lady once,” Trebek explains. “She said ‘you screwed up. You said this.’ And I said ‘no ma’am the correct pronunciation is the one I gave it.'”
Trebek continues to tell the story that didn’t end with his corresponding letter. “Interestingly, she’s one of the few people who wrote back and said ‘you know I looked it up in the dictionary and you are correct and I thank you for that. I thank you even more because my husband is the one who told me all these years that this was the way to say this particular word and now I can go back to him and said yo-yo, you were wrong.'”
Alex Trebek chuckles at this lady’s response. There’s nothing like helping a woman prover her husband wrong.
Trebek Knew He Had to Get it Right
Alex Trebek knew that he wasn’t hosting any old game show. He took his position at the podium very seriously.
“As the host of the program and as a host of a show like ‘Jeopardy!’ it is even more incumbent upon you to get it right,” Trebek says. “Because if I misspeak or if I use the wrong words in sentences, people are going to notice and they’re going to remark at that.”
Furthermore, people around him knew that he took his role very seriously. “Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Mike Richards explains in his opening statement during his term as guest host, just how much Trebek loved the show.
“Working with Alex was even better than you could have imagined. His intensity for this show, his humor, his kindness, but most impressively, his love for his wife Jean and his kids. He was everything you could hope for and more. He was an idol of mine, and I will work every day to try and live up to the example he set. So, with that in mind, Sam, Aaron, and Frances, good luck. This is for you, Alex.”
Alex Trebek passed away from pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, 2020. He was 80-years old.