Let’s get clear about something. I’m not normally a super judgmental person, but when I’m in a conversation with you and you say something like “The bookcase was about 3 feet in heighth,” I think, “What a fucking idiot.”
I’ll be honest with you here. I do judge you (a little) when you say “heighth.” Why? Because I find it aggravating. KIND OF LIKE PEOPLE WHO TYPE IN ALL CAPS LIKE THEY’RE SHOUTING AT THE WORLD JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE THE “SHIFT” KEY OR WANT TO HIDE THE FACT THAT THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT LETTERS TO CAPITALIZE.
But that’s another post topic. I’m on a bit about “heighth” at the moment.
Aside from thinking “What a fucking idiot,” I also find myself wondering things like “Where did you grow up and how have you gone on for your whole life thinking that the word ‘height’ ends with a ‘th?'” Every person I’ve heard say “heighth” in a non-satirical manner was raised in the United States. I don’t recall hearing this grating pronunciation until I moved to California, and it looks like I’m not the only one. This post on the Urban Dictionary states that:
This is not a word, even though everyone in southern California uses it. The correct word is “Height.”
Michael Quinion at World Wide Words gives the pronunciation a modicum of credence — apparently, “until the end of the seventeenth century, highth or heighth were its standard spellings.” Quinion goes on to explain that even Charles Dickens (that hack) used “heighth” and how dialectical shifts made the dominant pronunciation “height.” That’s mostly because, though the word was spelled with a “th” back in yonder years, it wasn’t said with a “th.”
Even considering its Pickwickian heritage, “heighth” still hits me as ignorant and, for the freak few people who choose to pronounce it as “heighth” and presume they’re saying it “correctly” because they know the origin of the spelling, well, that’s just straight up annoying… like native English speakers who say “yama” instead of “llama,” or “Van Gawwwwwgggggccchhh,” instead of “Van Gogh.”