Friday, October 3, 2008

Tomatoes in your sub ma'am?

I've read two hilarious posts recently about US/UK pronounciation. Mike over at Postcards from Across the Pond wrote a hilarious piece about trying to communicate with a taxi driver inEngland, and Brit Out of Water was shocked to find himself saying Home Depot the way Americans do - Deepo, as opposed to Deppo. I admit that I too say Deepo, mainly because I've only ever heard the whole phrase in the States. Home Deppo would sound strange.

I caused great hilarity in England a year or two ago, when I mentioned the Toyota Celica car, and pronounced it Sellika as they do here. My family insisted it was Saleeka, and cut me no slack because I'd only ever heard one pronounciation of it. My American sons find it equally amusing, on watching Top Gear, that Brits pronounce the Hyundai High un Die. Here in the States, it's pronounced Hunday. I have to say the Brit pronounciation sounds more Japanese to my untrained ear, but I choose my battles with my kids, and arguing about the right way to pronounce a stupid car name doesn't even make the list.

I can say Bayzil (for Basil) without too much pain, and oREGano rolls off the tongue too, but the American word I swear I will never embrace is tomaydo. Despite being teased, imitated and misunderstood in sandwich shops, I just can't do it. You see, it not only requires a change in the pronounciation of the "a", it also demands that the "t" be replaced by a "d". Too many accommodations in one word for me. Besides, I always think Brits who fall victim to the "d" sound a bit weird. Not being judgmental or anything, I just don't understand how you can grow to be an adult speaking one way, then adopt something fairly different within a year, or even a decade.

This stubborness on my part makes for some interesting challenges while in those deli sandwich shops. I quite like tomatoes, and am not averse to having them in those big sub sandwiches, but only if I don't have to ask for them. Sometimes I get lucky and the server points to things which I then only need to say yes or no to. However, if they say "What else would you like in your sandwich?" I usually stick with lettuce, cheese and onion.

22 comments:

  1. My father in law maintains that oREGano is the correct Italian pronunciation...but then, he is half American himself.

    The one that always surprises me is pronoucing route as 'rowt'. I once had an American colleague who did this and it took us all a while to work out what he was on about...

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  2. The one that always gets me is the British pronunciation of sporting goods giant Adidas as "AHHH-dee-dass" versus the American version, "Uh-DEEE-Duhs".

    The American version sounds so much dumber. The British version makes it sound like sports participants could actually be intelligent and sophisticated. An arguable point, but still!

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  3. Thanks for that, Expat Mum! I'll never give in on tomato either - like you say, I;ll let some pronunciations slip, but tomaydo is just a step too far.

    Expateek - the man who started Adidas was Adolf (or Adi, to his mates) Dassler, so not only is the British pronunciation more sophisticated, it also has the added benefit of being correct!

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  4. Ooo yes indeed. Some habit die hard. Luckily I have a few children around to correct me.
    Cheers

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  5. I agree with you 100% on the tomato pronounciation, even though people stare at me in Subway.
    My American friends think it's hilarious how I pronounce dew, compost, tuna, route etc. No amount of telling them I'm speaking ENGLISH gets through, but i don't force the point. Some of the American words actually sound better and hey - when in Rome....

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  6. Well Expat mum, I think you have given over enough words, I mean Bayzil and OREGano, I think is plenty to give in to. You hold on to your Tom-a-toe. How do you say parmesan out of interest? Parm-e-zan or Parm-eshon?

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  7. Hmm. I think I say Pamezan, however I have a full-blown, real Italian uncle in England who says it almost like a cross between the two so the "sh" sound isn't really wrong.
    And tuna, I just can't bring myself to say "toona".

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  8. I'm with you on this one. Tom-a-toe it is. I too have succumbed in the herb (not 'erb) dept, but I'm sticking with my tomatoes and parmezan!

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  9. Lets all stick together with our tomatoes and bananas! If only the americans would sound some of their "T's". My stubborn one is mum as I cannot stand mom!

    OH yes & herb starts with an H which is pronounced. Gosh I am getting bolshy today! Sorry locals!

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  10. Thanks for the plug, Expatmum (ExpatMOM) ;) I really wouldn't have looked twice at someone saying 'tomahto' while I lived in the states; I think the Subway staff are just being snooty.

    I try to hang on to my Americanizms as much as I can, but I have to admit to saying Depo (not deepo) without even thinking about it. I'm going to have to watch it or the next thing you know I'll be saying 'al-u-MIN-i-um'

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  11. It is, always was, and forever will be a tom-a-toe in my book.

    Water is the one that gets me.But in desperation, I have been known to have to say, 'war-durr', to be able to get myself a glass of the wet stuff in more than one resturuant.

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  12. Seeing as my job is to teach English as a Second Language, I have had to give in to American pronunciations, though some words still require a certain amount of effort. Occasionally, I forget and am surprised when my students start sounding English!

    When I was in France I did my best to sound French, so here I try to sound American. Actually, given that I have now lived longer in the US than anywhere else it actually irritates me when people comment on my accent.

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  13. Oh poo, someone beat me to the 'water' one, my personal bugbear from my intermittent trips west. My first foray took me to Georgia and I found myself saying 'y'all' a lot when I got back.

    By the way, hello! long time no comment! I am now installed in sunny Hungary and finally got internet yesterday after a two month wait. I have missed your Blog!

    Now the language here will have you doubled over. They all say the grammar is hard but at least words are all pronounced phonetically so reading and writing are easy. I wonder if that applies to abbreviations though - my shopping receipt says I bought some 'fuki gumi cumi' and a 'potty rudi'... I think I'm gonna like it here!

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  14. Even with my boys' American accents, they say tomato the proper way! LOL A couple of words that get me over here are "pawdy" as in potty (yes, we're toilet training at the mo) and sissy for sister. Grrrr!

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  15. I think the best US word is Aluminium-
    AL-LOO-MIN-UM

    Brilliant!

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  16. don't even get me started on the way people pronounce things. I speak English for goodness sakes, some days though I feel as though I am speaking gobbly-gook, as no one can understand me..........and when the kids talk to their grandparents in Britain, there are many conversations when I hear dd say Nana you don't pronounce it like that!!!

    Gill in Canada.......or is it gobbly-gook world???

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  17. SO good to know I'm not alone. I'm still learning the language though. Why is a garden called a yard? Nappies/diapers. Minivan/people carrier. Tomato sauce/ketchup. Although that last one at least gets me away from the pronunciation anxiety...

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  18. "People carrier" always cracks me up - aren't all cars people carriers?

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  19. Expatmum, what a great post!
    I have an American friend who lives here in England and we constantly rib each other about pronunciation.
    My husband gets would up about the children watching Dora and Diego because they end up pronouncing things as they do in the show.
    So baby jag U ar becomes baby jagwar. Makes him boil!

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  20. No I've never managed to say "tomaydo" either. It's just all wrong. But I think it's time for you to swallow your Britishness and start saying it, as the red fruit that thinks it's a vegetable is so delicious and nutricious and I hate to think you're missing out.

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  21. I once saw a broad (a man not a woman) Geordie try and communicate with a broad Yorkshire lass (girl) from Hull! You would never have guessed they were speaking the same language!

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