More than one person has written to beg me to clarify the spellings and pronunciations of a broad category of words that begin with "e". Yeah, I know that doesn't tell you much, but this is a category that does drive some of us wild...
W.O.W. to the rescue!
Escape: Friends, there is no X in "escape". Pronounce it ess-cape, not ex-cape. Tell your kids.
Especially: Same here. NO X in "especially". Not in spelling it, not in saying it.
Et cetera: Okay, this one is a bit more cumbersome to explain. It's a Latin phrase whose literal meaning is "and other things." We seldom see it written out...usually it's abbreviated. Many times badly. The correct spelling of the abbreviation is "etc." but it's often misspelled as "ect." Ugh.
Just as disconcerting is that it's mispronounced just about as often as it's pronounced correctly. Saying it right is easier if you're aware of the complete spelling: ET cetera. Unfortunately many of us grew up hearing or saying "excetera" or "eck-setera" and it's a hard habit to break. But if you run in educated circles, you'll brand yourself in a hurry if you mispronounce this one...better not to use the term at all if it's too hard to retrain your tongue. (And some of us have tongues that don't seem to be trainable, let alone REtrainable. How many times do you think Pres. Bush's handlers have begged him not to say, "Nuculer energy"?)
And on a side note, don't ever say or write "and et cetera" or "and etc." The "et" in "et cetera" means "and" in Latin, so preceding the abbreviation with "and" creates an annoying redundancy.