29 October 2009

"Let's call the whole thing off" --Ira and George Gershwin

I have a friend who I love. Dearly. There's just one little, itty, bitty thing she does that irritates me.*

When looking at art--and we both like to look at art--she will talk about the particular palette for the piece. But instead of saying palette like I would, and like Miriam Webster's online pronunciation does, and like every other person I've ever heard does, she will say pa-LET, with the accent on the second syllable. Now, it's a French word and maybe in Pa-REE that's how they say it. I dunno. Never took French.** But it comes off sounding pretentious and goofy.

Here's the thing, I can't really say anything because I am guilty of similar transgressions.*** I make a Rachael Ray**** appetizer of endive, mandarin oranges, almond slivers and goat cheese. And it's good, I tell ya. It's really hard to get it wrong, which is a key requirement for my kitchen successes. If I tell people what they're eating? I say on-DEEV instead of en-dive, as Miriam says it. Because that's the way I learned it, right or wrong--dunno, no French, remember?** And even as I'm saying it, I think: Jeez, how pretentious. But it doesn't stop me from saying on-DEEV next time.

So, what do you say all pretentious and snooty like? Do you ever intentionally mispronounce something just to see if someone's paying attention?*** When someone else pronounces something wonky, do you call them out or embrace the potato, poTAHto philosophy?

* Pretty good, right? Just one thing? Dang good, I'd say! When I was in high school, a friend told me that at most you got 80% of what you wanted in another person and it was just a matter of choosing what 80% was important to you and what 20% of the yeech you could tolerate. Like Frost said, that has made all the difference.

** Shut up. You know what I mean.

***Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned.

****You say Antichrist, I say Easy Appetizer Supplier. It's not like I have to listen to her giggling when I make it. Wow, can you imagine if you heard the Rachael Ray giggle all the time like some sort of horror show tinnitus? *shudder*


Liebchen said...

Ooh, good question. I don't always call someone out (I try not to) unless their pronunciation throws me off. To the point that I have to think twice about what word they're trying to say.

I wish I could think of an example now...

Narm said...

My Dad says "wrastle" instead of "wrestle" and I think it is the most awesome thing ever. Especially because he calls the WWE "Big Time Wrastling".

My point - he wins.

Bowie Mike said...

I come from a long line of people that mispronounce words. My father does it in an attempt to be funny by saying things like vee-hickle (from a MASH episode) or kaniff for knife. My mother just does it, I think, because she comes from the Midwest. She says things like eye-talion for people from Italy and she drives on roads like rut 66. I was on a conference call with someone over the summer who grew up in the same state as my mother, and he said rut also.

f.B said...

sometimes i say "unnecessarily."

perhaps i should explain.

i'll make it sound like "un-ni-cess-err-ully." if that still makes no sense, try listening to Maroon 5's Harder to Breathe.

yeah. sometimes i purposefully talk like Adam Levine.

this is not good.

Gilahi said...

"Short-lived". It's pronounced with a "five" sound, not a "give" sound. Look it up in your Webster's Unabridged. It's a long i sound. It rhymes with "contrived". That's because it's a form of the noun "life", not the verb "live".

Still, I'm the only English-speaking person on the planet who pronounces it that way. Once I learned that it was the correct pronunciation, my anal-retentiveness about the English language kicked in and I just couldn't say it incorrectly any more.

Lusty Reader said...

great topic! i always say "Foyer" the French* way, like foy-ay. people think im being uppity, but it just sounds too weird to my ear to pronounce the hard "r" sound! and i ALSO say endEEV and also adore that recipe.

*I minored in french in college

Jamie said...

I like the words varmint and critter.

I can't stand the word nuku-you-ler. It's nuCLEar, George!

These aren't really the same as your situation though, the first is regional/redneck dialect and the second is ignorance.

Cyndy said...

I decided to listen to some classical radio the other day while I was painting (so I'd feel more like Leonardi DaVinci than some slave) and the announcer kept saying SAMphony whenever the piece was by a French composer and SIMphony whenever the piece was by anybody else. It was driving me crazy. No one else does that, I hope. I enjoyed her commentary other than that, but SAMphony? Come on, is that really necessary? If I said SAMphony Fantastique while out on a classical gig people would look at me funny. I would look at myself funny. Oh well, I guess it's the old tomato-tomahto thing.

Herb of DC said...

I've noticed lately that more and more people pronounce my name as "Erb" as in the aromatic plants used in medicine or as seasoning. Martha Stewart however calls those plants "herbs" with a pretentious emphasis on the h. It was so annoying that for a couple of weeks I watched Rachael Ray instead but my tolerance of her giggle was short-liiived.

Mike said...

There are also the words that you've learned wrong and when somebody says it right you want to correct them.

Alice said...

my pretentious-french word is "crepe," which i say as "crehp," and not "crape," because i am apparently a pretentious french speaker. it's not like i roll the R, but.. i can't say crape. unless it's crepe paper, come to think of it, and then i can.

Uptown Girl said...

Just found your blog, that was funny and thougth provoking at the same time. My close friends complain that I correct them too much. I say they make too many mistakes... jking... or am I?

And I know I'm not perfect (or am I?), but I can tolerate my imperfections more easily!

Dmbosstone said...

I'm from Boston- I mispronounced everything... if I had a Boston accent...

Titania said...

This is the thing about being an alien with an alien original language, most of the time I can't really tell if the other person's pronunciation is correct or they are actually making fun of me. If I can tell, then it's because it's really BAD.

kys said...

I live in Appalachia and I don't have a hicky accent. (unless I'm drunk)
I say creek - not crick.
Hollow - not holler (a country road- not to yell).
McDonalds - not The MacDonalds
WalMart - not WalMarts
Diabetes - not sugar or sugar diabetes
On and on and on....,

Barbara said...

From an early age, I always thought I knew how to say everything, not realizing foreign words often don't follow standard (if there is such a thing) English pronunciation. When I was about 10, I started arguing with a substitute teacher about the pronunciation of Bogota. She put me in my place when she said she had actually lived there and knew full well how to say it. A year later, we had a sort of goofy new kid named Janet in our class. She came from a town called Sault Ste. Marie in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I simply couldn't accept that this would be pronounced "Sue Saint Marie." Once again, she had lived there; you would think she might know how to say it. At that point, I determined to stop giving people advice on things like this, preferring instead to continue to have my own opinion and secretly believe I was right. I think the pronunciation of foreign words that have made their way into our language is often dicey. Endive is a good example. Paella is another. If I know what someone means, I never ask any questions.

Madame Meow said...

I like to say "pap-yay" maché instead of pronouncing "paper", like you're supposed to in American English.

Also, once I was shamed by an ex-boyfriend because I mispronounced the "u" in "hurricane". Then his whole family proceeded to ape how I'd said it and ribbing me about it. It still stings, to this day.

Barbara said...

One more thing: Mispronouncing a word is different from reinventing it. Take NUCLEAR, for example. Hearing it as NUCULAR makes my skin crawl.

spleeness said...

I am *always* saying stuff incorrectly. Not to be pretentious, or because I learned it the snob way, but just because that part of my brain is totally undeveloped. So I'm not much of a stickler on pronunciation, since I suck. But mispellings, they get me. (pray I did not mispell that!! lol)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I have the same problem with "pecan"

Peh-CAHN sound pretentious - but PEE-can sounds low rent. There has to be a happy medium...PEE-CAHN maybe?

lacochran said...

Liebchen: Isn't that weird how suddenly that word is the only thing you can concentrate on, regardless of what they were trying to say to you?

Narm: Wrastlemania! Huh, yeah, that does work.

Bowie Mike: I've heard the EYE-talion but I haven't heard the others IRL. Maybe I'm in a rut. Or on one. Or something.

f.B: Great music but rumor is Adam's an assclown. This is not good.

Gilahi: Lucky your other charms compensate for this.

Lusty Reader: I do that one, too. I'm going to hell.

Jaime: Varmint? Suddenly I'm hearing Yosemite Sam.

Cyndy: Wow, using two pronunciations in one broadcast. Now, *that's* bizarre.

Erb of DC: That's weird.

Mike: We have the one true way.

Alice: Ooo, good one!

Uptown Girl: Of course you can! (Or can you?) Thanks for stopping by.

Dmbosstone: You're from Boston? I had no idea. Say "Where'd you pahk the cah, Teddy?" (Too soon?)

Titania: Your English is 100 times better than my Spanish and a 1,000 times better than my German.

kys: Alcohol turns a creek into a crick? I had no idea.

Barbara: Very wise. (And of course you're secretly right.)

Madame Meow: Pap-yay maché? There was a Seinfeld episode on that. It's good you made him an "ex".

Barbara: You and Jaime are kindred spirits.

spleeness: No worries, you are among friends here. (We'll mock you privately later because that's what friends do, goshdarnit.)

Kate Coveny Hood: I grew up saying PEE-can and my in-law, from Pecan country, informed me that that was a place to store your pee so I guess I *am* low rent.

Alex said...

I am renowned for pronouncing words funnily. People tease me about it often. And until right now, I didn't realize there was any other way to pronounce palette rather than "pa-LET." If only not to confuse it with pallet or palate.

And actually I think what's pretentious is using the term "palette" while discussing art in the first place, not the pronounciation. ;)