- Other Apps
Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t matter how you pronounce a word, the masses will be saying it the “other” way, and there are usually multiple other ways, none of which you’re using? If you switch, the next person you meet will be saying it differently, probably the way you used to say it.
It's as if there's a hidden Universal law.
It has little to do with how a word should be pronounced and almost everything to do with how someone has heard it most often or learned along the way, maybe from their favorite third grade teacher. Or, from their dad. Like me. When I used to say in-TEG-ral, because Dad did. Then I learned differently and said IN-te-gral which he immediately corrected. So we made a bet and hit the dictionary.
He paid up. A black raspberry milkshake at the Blue Ribbon Creamery. It was delicious. For more than one reason.
Now we have a lot of “common usage” crap and it’s difficult to know what a proper pronunciation is. Enough people saying a word incorrectly doesn’t get a mass, “Get a grip!” It gets an entry in the dictionary. As in, no milkshake.
For years I called Pittosporum (the green bush thing that comes in many varieties), pitt–o–SPOR–um. That’s how I was taught (I think my mom said it that way) until someone sneered and said, “It’s pit-TOSS–sper-um." There was a little upturn of the nose that went with the lesson.
Ok. I'm easy. I like to say things right. If that's what it is, that's what it is. It's not personal. Except I can't find anyplace to verify it and I don't want to turn in one poor pronunciation for another. Especially one that comes with a facial expression like that.
Oh, and just so you know, NO ONE knows what pit-TOSS-sper-um is. Don’t go with that if you're searching for one at the neighborhood plant place.
Same thing with Clematis (the flowering vine thingy), which I always pronounced, cle-MAT-is. I thought that’s how it was said. I’m Italian. Maybe that accounts for putting the accent down the line. Think pizzeria, pee-dza-REE-a.
Anyway, I'm in a nursery and I get schooled. "It's CLEM-a-tis." Same look as the previous person. Apparently the look is part of proper syllabic emphasis.
Whatever it is, tomato/tomahto, please show me where it is so I can buy one.
Yesterday I was looking for a butterfly bush and I didn’t even bother with the Latin. Easier to stick with butterfly bush where we’re most likely on the same page except for the proper name crowd (who probably don't agree with each other).
Today it was Riedel stemware. For the longest time I thought it was RY-dell. Then my old friend, Patrick, who speaks fluent German and lived in Germany, got in the mix. The glasses are from Austria, he said. The pronunciation is REE-del, almost like English ‘needle’. Thanks, Patrick. This felt authoritative. How could I go wrong?
I’m telling you this, don’t ever go into a department store and ask for Riedel-pronounced-like-needle glasses because a woman in the china/stemware department who has spent an entire career assisting brides in proper everything will say to you, "Oh! You mean RY-dell!”
I love my favorite Italian grocery store where they make the most delicious grilled panini. “Panini” is the pleural form, like gelati and gelato. I don’t want panini. I want a panino. One is perfect, thank you, but I can’t ask for one unless I ask for “one panini” (which makes no sense) without deli clerks smirking and correcting me. “You mean, panini.”
Hell, even my computer is balking and placing spellcheck red lines under every place I type panino.
I don’t clap back at the deli lady, which I’m dying to do, because my nose will have that same tilt I noticed and resented earlier and don’t wanna be that person.
I want to eat my scrumptious panino, warm from the grill and gooey inside, each bite accompanied by a little crunch that previews deliciousness to come.
I don't even want to think about who's saying what. Even though I wish I knew how to clean this all up.
Instead I clean a closet or the yard or the garage. Because they’re all so easy to arrange without resistance or attitude and I'll know I’ve made a difference.
Or, I'll write. Sitting with my panino.
Yup, today is most certainly random.
And I know how to pronounce that just right.