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Pronunciation - Why do it wrong?


Kim Shook
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Food show hosts, while not necessarily chefs are supposed to be food professionals - especially if they actually COOK on the shows. So why is there so much mispronunciation?

"Vinegar-ette" for "vinaigrette"

"Marscapone" for "mascarpone"

"carmel" for "caramel" (my own person bugaboo - literally makes me scream at the TV - especially when it is said by a so-called pastry chef.

I know there are MANY more - these are just the ones that I've noticed in the last couple of days. I get that we all mispronounce things - even in our own area of expertise. But these shows have producers and directors and researchers. Are they all ignorant? Don't care (of course I am ranting about the Food Network - I know they don't care about cooking or teaching)? Too busy to do things properly?

I'm not just ranting. I know there are food professionals here at eG and I'd really like to know why this happens on TV.

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I'm right there with you on carmel/caramel; that grates on my nerves whenever I hear it. It's like being from Boston (thankfully without the accent) and wanting to say "there's an A in the middle of that word, don't forget it!" I don't know why it happens, maybe people think they are being correct when it's not?

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I'm right there with you on carmel/caramel; that grates on my nerves whenever I hear it. It's like being from Boston (thankfully without the accent) and wanting to say "there's an A in the middle of that word, don't forget it!" I don't know why it happens, maybe people think they are being correct when it's not?

Merriam-Webster lists both pronunciations as acceptable. CAR-mel or CARE eh mel. It's soft of like waft. It can be the "ah" sounding a or the a sound as in "at"

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Porthos Potwatcher
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I wonder whether it has to do with the much larger corporate trend of "dumbing down" informational or edutainment shows in general…. I mean, think about it - these are the same corporations that brought you Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo-Boo, so maybe what they're going for is a "down-home" feel aimed at the lowest possible common denominator. (And I'm sorry if this offends, but I've all but given up on the "educational" networks because they're pandering to what really feels like a 6-year old mindset, and I personally find it insulting to me that network execs assume that's the average level of education of their viewers.) Hence, I'd look at it as mispronunciation in a coordinated and researched effort to seem less educated and more down-to-earth, because these are words that the viewers themselves are likely to be mispronouncing in the exact same way - and the hosts doing it is less likely to alienate the mass target viewership with their highfalutin' grammar and syntax and proper pronunciation and whatnot.

Now, I think that's incredibly sad and a depressing commentary on the state of North American television programming, but it's probably also what's going on.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Ive sort of wondered about this for a long time. The word fondant....its pronounced like its spelled, right? Why on all the cake shows is a part of the word hugely emphasized, as in fonDAWNT? This has always personally bugged me, but I just never thoughtn to ask.

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Maybe there's too much being read into it and it's just the way they learned to say the words and heard them said while growing up. They may know perfectly well that it's not technically correct. There are regional pronunciations for many things that, while technically incorrect, are accepted as correct in those regions. My grandmother knew perfectly well that you wash your hands but that didn't stop her from saying "warsh". It was the way she'd spent most of her life hearing it and saying it where she grew up.

Just for the record, I'm not lecturing. Just offering another way of looking at it. "Marscapone" kinda drives me nuts too. But then again, so does "a whole nother".

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Caramel is pronounced "carmel" depending on what part of the country you are from. West Coast and the Plains States, in particular.

It took me years to get used to ThanksGIVING being pronounced as THANKSgiving when I moved back East. In fact, I still cringe.

It's like being as if you'd like "a cawfee" instead of coffee.

I totally agree about mascarpone and chipotle being mispronounced as a bridge too far.

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I'm not the slightest bit ashamed to admit that I've been known to more than occasionally light into somebody for using either "Marscapone", or "chipolte" in my kitchens. If you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't be cooking with it....

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I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

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Caramel is pronounced "carmel" depending on what part of the country you are from. West Coast and the Plains States, in particular.

It took me years to get used to ThanksGIVING being pronounced as THANKSgiving when I moved back East. In fact, I still cringe.

It's like being as if you'd like "a cawfee" instead of coffee.

I totally agree about mascarpone and chipotle being mispronounced as a bridge too far.

I'm an easterner born and raised, as is the entire side of my dad's family, and I say thanksGIVING (stress on the giv- rather than the -ing, but whatever), I've never heard it with the emphasis on thanks.

That said, the gripes of the rest of you are shared here! While I'm at it, hummus has a double m, which means the m is lengthened. Think Italian or Japanese treatment of double consonants.

Re: the Guardian article posted above, "High on my pet-hate list is the the North American pronunciation of herb without an "h". Eeuugh." SO VERY TRUE. Also, I had no idea culinary was even said in the incorrect way described in that article. And Chorizo blows my mind. I've heard Corizo, Coritso, Choritso.....

Edited by Hassouni (log)
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I'll also say that many years ago, I did indeed pronounce the word as kyool-inary, but after too many questions from folks who had problems pronouncing their own name, I said to hell with it, and just switched to cull-inary.

So sad....

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I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

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Ive sort of wondered about this for a long time. The word fondant....its pronounced like its spelled, right? Why on all the cake shows is a part of the word hugely emphasized, as in fonDAWNT? This has always personally bugged me, but I just never thoughtn to ask.

I think that pronunciation comes from the fact that the rolled type of icing was extremely popular in Australia before it was big in Britain (where it's alternate name used to be Australian Icing) and then finally finding popularity in the US. I think some people (influential television personalities) were simply imitating instructors they had worked with from AU/UK who would naturally pronounce it this way -disregarding the fact that it's exactly the same word as we use for the poured icing we use on petit-fours , napoleons, and in Cadbury Eggs.

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I'm Eastern PA and and give pretty much equal emphasis to Thanks- giving.

Unlike the words inSURance and umBRELla, which my Texan friends pronounce INsurance and UMbrella

I have a good friend from Oklahoma City who says INsurance. I've never heard anyone else say it like that, and I always thought it was her own personal quirk. Apparently not.

Isn't there a song about this? (You know, potato-potahto, tomato-tomahto)

BTW -- how DO you pronounce chipotle? How do you even spell it?

The first time I went overseas I was with a group of Americans from all over the States. I'm from the Bronx, and it shows in my speech, much more so then than now. One night I mentioned going out to get some cawfee, and a few of the others gave me very strange looks because they couldn't understand what I was talking about. They thought I was going out to get some car fare, like I would purchase it in advance for the next time I had to ride the bus. It took a while to clear that one up.

I lived with a bunch of Londoners who insisted on this "herb" with an "h" business. Bloody 'ell sez I. Herb is my neighbor!

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I hear mispronunciations of Chinese food all the time. Even from supposed Chinese food experts. It isn't 'kung poe' chicken. It's gong bao ji ding, pronounced 'gong bow (rhymes with cow) gee ding." While China has many dialects and pronunciations, I'm pretty certain nowhere is it pronounced "kung poe". That is just a total misunderstanding of a very old, and inadequate transliteration system which most of the world abandoned many years ago. Beijing has never been pronounced Pea King. Asking for "Pea king" duck in Beijing will only get you strange looks.

Slightly off-topic, but Feng Shui is NOT pronounced "feng shoo-ey". It is more like "fung shway". I cringe every time I hear that, which I did this afternoon. Twice.

But I know it's natural. I don't need to learn another language (or even just a transliteration system) to eat or cook one or two dishes from wherever that language is used. French and Chinese I can do, but I have no idea how to pronounce Polish, for example. I'll still eat and maybe cook their food.

The notion that you shouldn't cook something you can't pronounce is just ridiculous and would close down many, many otherwise fine restaurants.

(But 'erb' drives me crazy, too!)

What bugs me more are the gross misspellings I see almost every week on menus. Even on some fine "dinning" (sic) menues (sic) or,even worse, "menu's" (sick).

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Martha Stewart says "herb" with an "haitch" and it drives me crazy. In America, it's "erb". Adding the "h" back -- especially when the person doing it is from Jersey City, New Jersey, for cornssake -- seems pretentious. She probably says "at hospital" and "at table," too.

And "carmel" is a regional thing, as annabelle says. I grew up in the PacNW of the US hearing "carmel" and was surprised to get to NY/NJ and hear "car-a-mel".

Edited by SylviaLovegren (log)
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"Marscapone" kinda drives me nuts too. But then again, so does "a whole nother".

For me it's writing "alot" as one word, when meaning, of course, a lot .... Arrgh!

But you're write, there is regional accents and cultral influences at play here, at least in some instances.

 ... Shel


 

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I'm surprised no one's mentioned mayonnaise. On America's Test Kitchen they call it 'may-naise'. I know it's a regional pronunciation but it irritates me nonetheless.

And Toots, being from Paraguay and Argentina yet with European parents, pronounces it MYonaise ...

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 ... Shel


 

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Martha Stewart says "herb" with an "haitch" and it drives me crazy.

And there are those, scholars included, who contend that the correct spelling of the letter H is "aitch." Mirriam-Webster on line says there is no such word as "haitch" and that "aitch" is the correct spelling.

Just saying that for different regions and cultures, there are different dialects and ways that people use language. Is there always but one correct way to pronounce a word, and by whose standard? Maybe, in some cases, technically there is, but reality contains many shades of grey (or is it gray?).

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 ... Shel


 

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Ive sort of wondered about this for a long time. The word fondant....its pronounced like its spelled, right? Why on all the cake shows is a part of the word hugely emphasized, as in fonDAWNT? This has always personally bugged me, but I just never thoughtn to ask.

I think that pronunciation comes from the fact that the rolled type of icing was extremely popular in Australia before it was big in Britain (where it's alternate name used to be Australian Icing) and then finally finding popularity in the US. I think some people (influential television personalities) were simply imitating instructors they had worked with from AU/UK who would naturally pronounce it this way -disregarding the fact that it's exactly the same word as we use for the poured icing we use on petit-fours , napoleons, and in Cadbury Eggs.

This seems to be over-thinking a bit. It is a French word.

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