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Common Food Mispronunciations and Misnomers


Fat Guy
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jalapeño = ha-la-pain-yo (one does also hear: ha-la-peen-uh)

As you point out, one may "also hear" hal-a-PEEN-no, but that's so wrong that it's irritating to the ear and grating on the nerves. We have an enormous Spanish-speaking population in the US and the popularity of Mexican food and its ingredients can't possibly be overstated. It's not like jalapeño is some exotic ingredient from some foreign land like Outer Slobovia and it's asking waaaaaay too much for Americans to be able to correctly pronounce the names of even the most obscure Outer Slobovian ingredients. And nobody takes Slobovian in our high schools.

I get your point. But, yanno... the places where we tend to hear it that way are the same places that have been saying San Jacinto as "san jah-sin-tuh" and Amarillo as "am-a-rill-uh."

I've never seen "yeeros" on a menu here, either. But you do see "heros" quite a lot. So often, in fact, that I doubt most Americans even make the connection to gyros.

I think people don't make that connection because there isn't one. Heros (as in "hero sandwich") are associated with Italian-Americans, not Greek-Americans. "Gyros" also didn't enter the American lexicon until the late 1960s.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Gyros of course is simply a calque from döner (which means "turning" in Turkish - think gyroscope in English), being invented in slightly different form in Bursa (western Anatolia) in the 19th century. (And shawarma is an Arab pronunciation of çevirme, Turkish for "rotating/spinning")

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In my experience in the US, croissant is most commonly pronounced "cruh-SAHNT", with an English "R" sound, and the "T" is definitely vocalized. And I'm OK with that - generally Americans trying to pronounce French as French people would come across sounding absurd. (Myself definitely included - I was once pretty good at French but now I'm better at nitpicking others' pronunciation than at speaking it myself. :smile: )

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croissant = kwa-sawn(t)

Let's put a touch of an "r" in there (krwa), and omit the final "t".

This, of course, is nit-picking.

In my experience in the US, croissant is most commonly pronounced "cruh-SAHNT", with an English "R" sound, and the "T" is definitely vocalized.

What phatj said. I wasn't writing how it should be said, just how it is said. And in the grand scheme of things, leaving in the T and using an English R or largely leaving out the R are pretty low on the list of proper pronunciation faults around here. Hey, I'm still fighting the (losing) battle to get people to stop referring to a single Italian-style pressed sandwich as a "panini."

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Hey, I'm still fighting the (losing) battle to get people to stop referring to a single Italian-style pressed sandwich as a "panini."

You'll sooner get people to stop making every restaurant name possessive (Panini Grill --> "Panini's") than you'll get them to get the Italian singular/plural thing right. As my college linguistics professor said, "accidents happen to vowels."

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You'll sooner get people to stop making every restaurant name possessive (Panini Grill --> "Panini's")....

PET PEEVE!

And (in an effort to stay on-topic) we could count that as a mispronunciation, though I think it is really some other kind of cognitive error.

Fern

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Likewise, "pierogi" (pyeh-ROH-ghee) is already the plural form for the Polish dumplings (not "pierogies"), and if you ever have occasion to talk about one of them, the singular is "pieróg" (PYEH-roog).

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
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Next time you hear someone say BAY-zill give them a slap for me please. I'm currently living and working in Spain and what tourists often misinterpret is the interchangeable nature of the hard b and v sound. Based on region and accent. So as an example I was covering a co-workers shift at the omelette station at breakfast and a german man came and ordered a tortilla con jabòn. Now I don't know how and why but jamòn is ham and jabòn is soap. So I smiled my inner smile and prepared him a HAM omelette.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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Ah please, a headache of yesteryear. Moët et Chandon. Especially the first name. Traditional pronounciation rules would have it the same as Citroën. As an extended vowel with a hint of nasal. But I've personally heard sommeliers some French, pronounce it from Mo-ei, like the Japanese bodypillow relationship to Müt as in German umlaut. And the one I am currently using Möet.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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Next time you hear someone say BAY-zill give them a slap for me please.

Done! I can't stand it either.

Everyone should just think Fawlty Towers...

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... - generally Americans trying to pronounce French as French people would come across sounding absurd....

Indeed. While reading some earlier posts I was thinking that I'd never say frahnce when referring to France in a conversation in English.

And of course, regional variations become local dogma. New Orleans is pronounced N'awlins, and Louisville is pronounced Loowahvul (after Le Roi Loowah, I presume).

And I take care never to miss an opportunity to mispronounce crudite. "Oooh, look...crud-ites!" :raz:

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A lot of mispronunciations of Italian words bug me, but one of the ones most spectacularly butchered in Denmark is 'espresso', for which you generally hear ex-PRA-so. Ouch.

But you do have to give kudos to any speakers of a language with phrases like 'rødgrød med fløde'. Surely that gets them a pass on Italian pronunciations! :laugh: (I haven't spoken Danish in over 20 years but I can still say that one well enough to please a Dane!)

My husband used to say "broh-cole-lie" until my death stares began to shorten his lifespan.

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I was under the impression that "bay-sil" was the accepted American pronunciation. I've never heard it with the short "a" sound (as in "cat") except as a man's name, and then only as spoken by English people (as in Fawlty Towers).

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