royal caribbean oasis of the seas
Oasis of the Seas
If you’ve been wishing to study with me in person while drinking mojitos, this is it! Royal Caribbean is partnering with Florida-based Go Travel to introduce "Forensics at Sea: Mystery Writers Cruise" a 7-day western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas, sailing March 31-April 7, 2019 from Port Canaveral, FL. I’ll be giving an expanded version of my Mystery-Thriller Workshop. And I’ll be joined by Kelly Gillis, coroner and forensic anthropologist, and Jeffry Mouer, crime scene specialist and advisor to TV’s "Forensic Files."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Talkin Proper

Zestful Blog Post #248

Quickie note on last week’s blog post, “The Jesus Trigger.” Two unsubscribes, which actually creates a nice set of bookends for the subject, given that I discussed both ends of the “I take offense” spectrum: the allergic-to-neutral-or-positive-references-to-Jesus readers and the allergic-to-cursing ones. The post garnered the most comments, I believe, of any of my posts so far. So, yeah. Bein’ real, livin’ on the edge here at Zestful Writing. And to you latest five, yes FIVE new subscribers, welcome to our wonderful corner of the literary galaxy!

Onward. I never cease to be bothered by common misspellings, but I also grieve over common mispronunciations, which are, I realize, occasionally related to misspellings, or perhaps more accurately, misperceptions of a given word. International cuisine offers plentiful opportunities.

For instance, I’ve had waiter after waiter tell me that the tiramisu (so far, so good) is made with “marscapone” cheese. It is not. It is made with mascarpone cheese. Therefore it is not pronounced mar-ska-pone. It is mass-kar-pone.


[You can practically taste all those luscious ingredients, can’t you?
Even the cocoa sprinkled on top. [Sketch by ES]]

I feel better already. Going on:

Haven’t nearly all of us considered ordering a tasty Salade Niçoise when out lunching with friends? Certainly we have. And if you had to pass your language requirement in graduate school and selected French, you know that an E on the end of a word ending in S nearly always calls for that S to be pronounced. Therefore I tell the server, “I’ll have the Salade Nee-swahzz.” I’ve found that unless the waiter is an actual French person, they will repeat my order smugly, “Salade Nee-swah.” No, bitch. It’s Nee-swahzz. I cannot well represent the tiny little miniature [euh] that I sometimes add on the very end, for emphasis, but you can’t go wrong with Nee-swahzz.

Is sherbert for sherbet a dead horse by now? I hope so. Just one R in there. It was Marcia’s aunt Nancy who, when corrected that way, said, tentatively, “Sheebert?” Side note: Sherbet, which contains some milk, is not the same as sorbet, which does not.

We know that someone who runs an eatery is not a restauranteur but a restaurateur, oui? No N in there.

Leaving the food world, as is my prerogative, we—oh! Wait! Yes indeed. It’s not perogative. So, not peh-rog-a-tive. We rightly say pre-rog-a-tive. Or you could go with pruh-rog-a-tive for an extra level of tweediness.

Has this post been succinct or what? Yes, it has been suck-sinkt! It has not been suss-inkt. Never that. The double C is pretty much always pronounced with a K-moving-to-S sound in there. Accent. Eccentric. And yes, even flaccid, ref. Zestful blog post 141, “Defending Precise Language.” Now gimme somma that tiramisu.

Are you troubled by verbal miscues, too? Tell us. To post, click below where it says, 'No Comments,' or '2 Comments,' or whatever.

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13 comments:

  1. I love an extra level of tweediness! I was listening to a college level lecture today where the speaker twice said the person "contacted" an illness instead of "contracted." A grammarian would call this error an eggcorn which is a delightful word! It sure made my skin crawl - hopefully not a sign that I've contracted the flu.

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    1. OMG, Pam, I was ignorant of 'eggcorn' until now!! Thank you! Stay healthy.

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  2. Let’s not forget nuke-u-lar for Nu-clee-ar

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    1. Yes, there was a certain president who made this one famous, if I'm not mistaken. Neil, sorry for the delay publishing this comment of yours; there was a glitch on my end.

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  3. Just had my own little rant about the use of "try and" and "try to."

    For all my so-called cosmopolitan life, I never did know how to pronounce that salad. Thank you!

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    1. I'm afraid I've been guilty of 'try and'... gonna try to be better on that...

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  4. In Chicago there is a street called Goethe - when I asked someone where it was located, I pronounced it like the author's name. Received blank stares. They pronounce it - phonetically "Goy-thee".

    Sometimes, a mispronunciation is unintentional. I read a lot as a child but my mom only had a smattering of schooling. She was farmed out at a young age to be a live-in maid. So tough words and no dictionary led to some rather creative pronunciations on my part. It took a while for me to learn the right way to say some words, but it didn't stop my reading.

    My worst pronunciation mistake was when I interviewed a psychiatrist for a speech I had to make about a possible career choice and I asked him, "Have you read Sigmund FEUD." I had read some of his books and was curious. The man corrected my pronunciation and said he had. In retrospect, FEUD is a good way to describe Freud's theories. LOL.

    God bless you. You made me smile today.

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    1. Heather, that's hilarious about Goethe St. And I get it about having to guess pronunciations. You will appreciate this: There was a kid in my public speaking class in high school who did a presentation on the psychiatric disorder "Shizz-o-phrenia". The teacher corrected him before he got too far. And I remember reading that Bette Midler's mother named her after Bette Davis, whose name she thought was pronounced Bet. And God bless ya right back.

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  5. I'm reading a novel where the characters "woke up." Am I crazy? I thought it was "awakened." We awakened to the sound of birds. Not: We woke up to the sound of birds. I checked the dictionary and both words are there and defined. But it just sounds terrible to me. I guess I have a problem.

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    1. I would say, Patricia, that 'woke up' is the more informal, colloquial form, useful perhaps in dialogue, depending. Sorry about the delay getting your comment posted. I figured out a glitch on my end. All well now; comment away! And thanks.

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  6. My late husband, newly arrived from Long Island, was hired as a building inspector in San Diego. He was chewed out on the phone by a contractor who had waited all the previous day for an inspection. My husband apologized and said, "I drove up and down Jamaica Road several times yesterday trying to find you, but I never could find Hammershaw Road. How do you spell Hammershaw?" The contractor replied, "J-a-m-a-c-h-a."

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    1. Oh my gosh, that's a great one. BTW, good job on those book columns in the Mensa mag...

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