WE'VE BEEN ON the road for nearly two weeks, and blogging has suffered — both here and over at Eating Every Day. Most of my jotting has been longhand on scraps of paper, or short comments on Facebook.
But the other day The Huffington Post ran a blog post, "30 Commonly Mispronounced Food Words (and How to Say Them Correctly)," by Alessandra Bulow, which was mentioned by a friend on Facebook, leading to some contemplation on my part.
(The article can be found at http://huff.to/1l6BHeZ )
My first remarks as posted to Facebook:
After another person commented on the open Italian O in "risotto," and on English final diphthongs — or, if you prefer, diphthong finals — I added:
I find 7 of 30 agree with me, two more but only in one of two alternative, and one more I simply don't know the correct pronunciation: Huffington may well be right.
Twenty, though, I think either wrong or misleading: I show my versions below.
Note that no syllables should end with the usual (American) English "ee" diphthong, and that û is the French "u" (say "ooh" with mouth set for "ee", that "nh" stands for the French nasalization, not used in English except occasionally to express distaste, and that French almost NEVer stresses SYLlables as ENglish does.
Lindsey says CARE-uh-mul, I say CAHR…
1. Aïoli : eye-oh-LEE
2. Ambrosia : ahm-BROH-zyah
3. Ancho ("AHN-choh")*. ok
4. Anise ("AN-ihss")* ok
5. Boudin : boo-DANNH
6. Bouillabaisse : bwee-yah-bess
7. Caramel : "KAR-ah-mehl" ok
8. Charcuterie : shar-kû-tree
9. Croissant : krwahss-sanh
10. Crudités : krû-dee-tay
11. Edamame ("eh-dah-MAH-meh")
12. Foie gras : fwah grah
13. Haricot vert ("ah-ree-koh VEHR") ok
14. Hummus ("HOOM-uhs") (oo as in book, not booze)
15. Jicama ("HEE-kah-mah") ok
16. Lichen : LIE-kun
17. Macaron : mah-kah-RONH
18. Mascarpone ("mas-kar-POH-nay; mas-kahr-POH-nay") ok
19. Muffuletta ("moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh") ok
20. Parmesan : PAR-muh-zun (it's English)
21. Prosciutto : pro-SHOOT-toe
22. Radicchio : rah-DEEK-k'yo
23. Rillettes ("ree-YEHT"; "rih-LEHTS") only the first
24. Raita : RYE-ita, where the "i" of the second syllable is slid past quickly
25. Restaurateur : ress-torah-TEUR, where the second syllable is slid past quickly
26. Sake ("SAH-kee"; "SAH-kay")* only the second
27. Sherbet : SHER-but
28. Tzatziki ("dzah-DZEE-kee") perhaps. I don't know.
29. Vinaigrette : van-eh-GRETT
30. Worcestershire : WUS-ter-shear
Savio's exactly right about the diphthong and I should have stressed the point more. And of course he's right about English lacking certain sounds extant in other languages (and vice versa).
"Risotto" is a great practice word. Being Italian, it should begin with a slightly trilled "r": say "HREE " and gently flip the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth just after the "h."
The English word "sought" is almost exactly right as it lacks the diphthong, at least to my ear, probably because the "t" cuts it off.
You pronounce both letters of a double consonant in Italian, so the final syllable is "toe." Pure "O": no slide into the W of "tow"!
By the way my daughter Giovanna hears her name mispronounced far too often : it's jo-VAHN-nah, not jee-o-va-nuh.
Mispronunciation is mostly the result of inattention and, I think, a mark of laziness (unless impacted by genuine physical problems with hearing, or with palate, tongue, teeth, or lips —gosh, it's complicated!).
During her long tenure at Chez Panisse, one of Lindsey's jobs was to prepare pronunciation guides to certain food terms and menu items, so that floor staff might be saved from error. I don't know if that's still being done; perhaps it's no longer needed.
My own pronunciation is of course far from perfect, so if you have corrections to make, they're welcome…