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Jul 9, 2002 03:05 PM

Hummus prefered pronounciation

  • g

ok, is it HUMMM-us


i always say HOOO-moose, and keep getting corrected. I have heard both. Are there regional pronouciations?

  1. I actually need to see it in the Arabic alphabet, but from what I recall, the official Arabic pronounciation would probably be - HOO-MOOS. But there are a myriad of dialects and chances are one of them says HUMM-OOS making that pronounciation valid as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LisaLou

      It's not English. It's NOT pronounced HUM-oos. It's Hoo-moos. And it's not quite "oo" - it's between a short U and OO. And it's not an H, either. It's a "chet," which is somewhere between an H and a CH.

      Ask a native Hebrew speaker to say it for you.

      1. re: hebrewspeaker
        Michele Cindy

        There is a restaurant in NYC Called Hoo-moos, within the menu they state: Please do not call it Humm-us.

    2. Interesting that the responses you got tried to tell you the "proper" Arabic or Hebrew pronounciation. Of course, you would be using it in the context of English I assume. For example, we say Paris "pa-riss", but if spoken in French it is "pah-ree". Just my two cents. I say "hum-us".

      5 Replies
      1. re: Alan H

        I think we were both trying to prevent the cultural imperialism that permits Brits to say "Don Joo-an" rather than "Don Wan".

        1. re: Alan H

          Rationalize it however you wish. Pronouncing it, "hum-is," is wrong and sounds way lame. Hebrewspeaker nailed it. If you want confirmation, just ask anyone who has even an average ear for language and has visted Israel for more than one week.

          1. re: Preacher

            Tell me, which is the proper way to pronounce car: the way they do it in Boston, the way they do it in New York, or the way they do it in Georgia?

            Which pronunciation of 'out' is correct? The way they say it in Winnipeg or the way they say it in Baltimore?

            I have a problem with you or anyone else who says pronouncing a word one way or another is "wrong."

            I grew up on the west side of Manhattan and I could -- as could all my friends -- distinguish someone who grew up on the east side by the way they pronounced things. They were not wrong, merely different.

            We now pronounce the capital of China as Beijing, but we still call Paris Paris, not Paree.

            What is important is being understood, not adopting one particular correctness. If I want a mashed chickpea and tahini concoction in Amman I'll ask for hoo-mooos. But if I want the same dish in Ammaganset I'll be better understood if I say hummus. Vive la difference!

            1. re: Deven Black

              I hear where you're coming from. It may be somewhat of a fine line, but I think one needs to distinguish between an accent and mispronouncing a word. Also, the pronounciation of this word has nothing to do with regional differences-those I can respect. Hearing is pronounced hum-is has always made me cringe.

          2. re: Alan H

            More or less the same here. When I'm speaking Hebrew, or even speaking English to Israelis, I will pronounce it, "choo- moos," with the gutteral "ch". When I'm speaking English it comes out more like "choo-muhs" with a short "oo" rather than the Hebrew long "oo "

            Just try using the Israeli pronunciation with the teenage clerk in the supermarket and see how far you get.

          3. Do you want the "correct" pronunciation, or do you want to be understood in a country that has a different accepted pronunciation from that "authentic" one?

            3 Replies
            1. re: ironmom

              Well said, Iron Mom. Let us hum "hummus" together.

              1. re: ironmom

                you know you're right, I, personally, waver on between being a "prescriptivist" vs. "discriptivist" when it comes to dictionairies and pronouciation,

                (i recall an decent piece on this Harper's by David Foster Wallace, that i can't find a link for)

                I guess, i was looking for either a) a consensus or b)

                whether it is WRONG to say HOO-MOOSE.. which i still do and in fact, did last night at Zuli's (?)Sandwiches on Canal..(they said Hummus!)

                1. re: ironmom

                  It's just as easy to say hoomoose as it is hum-is. So why not pronounce it correctly? Hoomoose sounds a hell of lot better, too.

                2. Old topic but.....a co-worked insists that it's pronounced hU-mis as in huge....I've finally concluded that however one chooses to pronounce it, it's delicious!

                  1 Reply
                  1. I was an Arabic linguist in the AF for 20 years and lived in Saudi for three years. It doesn't matter how you say it. If you say HUMM-US to an Arab, he's going to know exactly what you're asking. He/she won't give you, rice, felafel, lamb, or camel meat, they'll give you hummus. Let the know-it-all snobs debate how to correctly pronouce it. Sabra hummus is made in Israel, THEY called it hummus on their packaging. Are they wrong?

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: Sacorbi

                        my mom, who learned Hebrew fluently in Israel, says chumus. bit of a hard h, but still the American "u."

                        1. re: Sacorbi

                          It was HUMMus in Riyadh, HUMMus in Petra, HUMMus in Beirut, and HUMMus in Cairo. That's good enough for me. (If I'd asked our Yemeni houseboy to make HOOmoose for dinner, I'd have gotten a blank look -- much less "choomoose!")

                          1. re: Sacorbi

                            In Dubai practically everyone says HUMM-US, although I have heard the hoo-moos a few times. One way or another no one bats an eye.

                            The real debate is flavored hummus. My American and British friends are always surprised when I point out that you simply cannot buy red pepper or pesto flavored hummus in the Middle East, let alone any other flavors.