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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

                      Guess who's coming to dinner!

                      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.

                          2. Hoo (or Choo) moos is preferred but the other is not incorrect, rather it's an accepted secondary pronunciation for English speakers.

                            Foreign words that are accepted into any language are no longer purely foreign words, but are subject to developing usage within the adopting language.

                            1. Regarding the first consonant in this word, it is most definitely not pronounced the same way by Arabic and Hebrew speakers.

                              Hebrew tends to have a velar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceles...)
                              or uvular consonant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceles...). In contrast, this consonant is pharengeal in Arabic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceles...) .

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: hala

                                Arabic has three 'h' letters or sounds. The 'h' in hummus is pronounced like the letter 'h' in English.

                                1. re: Sacorbi

                                  No it's not. It sounds like a regular English /h/ or a voiceless glottal fricative to many non-trained ears, but it is not glottal. You can hear a female native speaker from the Emirates say it here: http://www.forvo.com/word/hummus/

                                  By the way, the sound used in Arabic and the sound(s) used in Hebrew have a common ancestor that you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heth_(le...

                                  1. re: hala

                                    Yes it is. I spent three years learning Arabic and 17 years as an Arabic linguist. I lived in Saudi for three years. If you want to learn Arabic through Wikipedia, go ahead. The link you provided does not apply to all three 'h' sounds in Arabic.

                                    حمّص hummus
                                    خالد Khalid
                                    هوائي Antenna

                                    All three words start with a different letter. They show the three 'h' sounds in Arabic.

                                    1. re: Sacorbi

                                      Ah, the one I sent (not the wikipedia but the forvo) starts with a pharengeal not a glottal stop. Unless you are hearing the english /h/ as pharengeal rather than glottal, I am not sure how you would think that these two sounds are the same. I never said that there are no 3 "h" sounds in Arabic, I just said that out of these three sounds, one is used for hummus in Hebrew, one is used for hummus in Arabic, and the third one is the normal "h" sound that is used in English. Maybe you are linguist, but so am ,I and I am sure that what you wrote is factually incorrect.

                                      And about the wikipedia links, I put them there to explain the terms to non linguists, not because wikipedia has the correct pronunciations for hummos in all languages.

                                      1. re: hala

                                        And, anyway, in English usage, which is the topic, it's not an issue....

                                        1. re: hala

                                          My last post makes it sound like I was clear in my original post, which I was not. I did not explicitly refer to the 3 sounds of Arabic that you call the 3 'h's, but, I implicitly mentioned two of them. To me only one of these three is an /h/. If you have any knowledge of linguistics, you would know that the 3 sounds are the velar (or uvular), the pharengeal and the glottal fricatives and my original post refers to the first two since these are the ones used to pronounce the first consonant in Hebrew and Arabic respectively but doesnot mention the third one since presumably, with all the talk about Chet anyone reading this knows that the sound is different from the glottal fricative (the English /h/). If you don't like the wikipedia links, here is an IPA chart from the university of Kuwait, CLEARLY (if you can read IPA) stating that the /h/ sound that you are referring to is pharengeal in Arabic. I obviously did not want to link to an IPA chart because it is quite useless to anyone who has not studied linguistics. Wait, maybe that's the problem, are you an expert on linguistics or are you a polyglot who speaks really good Arabic but does not know where the sounds are articulated?
                                          To people who think that I am trying to tell them how to pronouce hommos, I am not. I think it's absurd to even try to pronounce it *correctly* since the people percieved to be the authentic owners of the dish don't even agree on a pronunciation. Are you going to pronounce it the Arab way or the Hebrew way? Picking one pronunciation over the other could be construed to carry political undertones.

                                          1. re: hala

                                            I refuse to allow that pronunciation is political -- let's keep that craziness out of our food world.

                                            1. re: hala

                                              Nice try, but not even close. There are three separate ‘H’ sounds in Arabic represented by three different letters. The three words I referenced above are all Arabic words and each starts with one of the letters with a different ‘H’ sound in Arabic.

                                              Saying that one of these three Arabic letters is used to pronounce hummus in Hebrew is absurd. Saying that another one of the Arabic letters is the ‘H’ sound used in English to pronounce hummus is beyond absurd.

                                              Hebrew and English are different languages, with different letters and comparing the three to determine the correct pronunciation of an Arabic word makes no sense.

                                              “…are you a polyglot who speaks really good Arabic but does not know where the sounds are articulated?”

                                              Okay, let me make it simple for you.

                                              First of all, a polyglot and a linguist are the same thing. The language training I attended at the Defense Language Institute (Monterey CA) covered linguistics extensively. Secondly, since the three ‘H’ letters in Arabic are DIFFERENT letters, with different sounds, they change the meaning of words. You have to know how to articulate the sounds in order to pronounce them correctly and be understood.

                                              You said you’re a linguist. I seriously doubt that because of your inability to distinguish the difference between Arabic and Hebrew. And why would an Arabic linguist pronounce hummus the ‘Hebrew’ way anyway?

                                              1. re: Sacorbi

                                                You are talking about letters, I am talking about sounds and their places of articulation (where they are produced). I didn't say it's the same letter, but the same sound. I dont' think I should answer you anymore, you don't seem to be able to understand the most basic principals of phoenetics and keep making up stuff and saying I said it. You also are contradicting yourself. You say: "Arabic has three 'h' letters or sounds. The 'h' in hummus is pronounced like the letter 'h' in English" then you spell it with the letter for a different sound. And I am amazed that you seem to think that Arabic pronunciation is so unique that I cannot compare it to the pronunciation of any other language ever.

                                                1. re: hala

                                                  The letters make specific and different sounds. Some of the letters (and their unique sounds) have nothing in English to compare.

                                                  Phonetics deals with sounds and how they are produced. Different letters produce different sounds. If the sounds are not produced correctly, communication is hindered.

                                                  Arabic and its different dialects is unique. You can compare it to any language you like.

                                                  I may not be an expert like you on the subject on phonetics, but I do understand the subject well enough to be able to speak (read and write) Arabic, pronouncing all the unique letters and sounds correctly to be understood.

                                                  Whether you answer back or not is up to you. Write back in Arabic if you want, I'll translate it for you.........

                                        2. re: hala

                                          That is exactly how I was use to hearing it by my grandmother who was born in Aleppo and my aunts and uncles. More like himmus rather than hummus

                                    2. Does how one pronounces it alter the taste?

                                      1. This thread reminds me of the Gouda thread... :)

                                        I think you can know the way a word is pronounced in its language of origin and, for efficiency's sake, choose to pronounce it in a way more familiar or clearly understood where you are. I'm not going to ask for HOW-da (with a light gutteral H) at Trader Joe's when I'm looking for Gouda because I'm almost certain to be met with a blank stare. Same goes for hummus. I'll say HUMmuss because I know it'll get me what I want.

                                        I figure if my grocery clerk or waitperson were interested in issues of foreign language diction, they'd have studied up on it themselves. I don't need to make a point every time I'm looking for something at the market or ordering at a restaurant

                                        But that's not to say I won't argue with someone who insists that eXpresso and bruSHetta are correct pronunciations for eSpresso and brusChetta. That's a whole 'nother issue...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Go to a mega store in the United States and say "Hue-mis" rather than "humm-is" and you could well find a large bag of dirt in the shopping cart.

                                          1. I've rarely heard it pronounced anything but hum-uss

                                            1. I appreciate it when people try to pronounce ethnic foods/dishes correctly according to the country of origin. It seems like a display of respect, I suppose. So it's hoo-moos (my dh is middle eastern) for us because that's how it is pronounced in dh's country. However, even within the ME, the same foodstuffs are pronounced differently and even have different names. Gyro in Greece is Döner in Turkey. Try pronouncing them both correctly (and no, it's not DOE-ner, it's duh-NER), no matter which term you use, out of respect of the food. Tagliatelle is pronounced TAG-lee-uh-telly by most, but I smile and know someone knows their food when they ask for Tah-lee-uh-TELL-eh instead. I realize that not everybody can know the correct way to pronounce every single ethnic food (least of all myself!!), but I'm just saying that I enjoy being around people who are so well-versed in different cuisines that they know the "local-to-the-food" pronunciation. I often learn something new, which is also nice.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: velochic

                                                I agree to some extent, but I think the context in which it's done is really telling about the intent with which it's done. For example, if you think you're in the company of people who will appreciate the effort - your dinner companions, your server or the shopkeeper are from the country of origin - I can see how it might be appreciated as a sign of respect or a sincere effort to partake in another culture.

                                                But do it in a context where it's reasonably likely to cause confusion just for the sake of making a statement about yourself and then it's just kinda douche-y, imo...

                                              2. these pronunciation threads are getting very annoying. Just take the word butter, in southern UK english it's pronounced BUTT AH, up north they pronounce it as in foot ah, Americans say budder and add an R to the end which we English do not pronounce at the end of a word (as in New England too), unless you are from the West Country like Cornwall Devon and Somerset when you will hear the R. The Scots have their own pronunciation altogether as do the Irish.

                                                All are correct, all English speaking countries pronounce words differently, as long as we are pretty much understood by each other then regional accents are irrelevant as are trying to correctly pronounce foreign words that have come into our language. Pick any word you like and we all say them slightly differently.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: smartie

                                                  I, for one, enjoy the regional differences, and don't know why everyone should be required to use the same pronunciation.

                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    I'm with you pikawicca. I'm lucky to have good friends for whom English is a second language. It is fascinating to listen to the words bounce round the table and to see the way each language changes them slightly. I've gotten a lot less ridged about how words are pronounced.

                                                  2. re: smartie

                                                    I think the difference, though, Smartie, is that your example is about pronouncing an English word, in an English-speaking country and the dialectical differences of that word within the borders of that country (or that language-speaking area).

                                                    This thread is about a non-English culinary word and how English-speaking people try (or do not try) to pronounce it correctly based on its cultural origins.

                                                    1. re: velochic

                                                      Yes, but we've already seen above that hummus is pronounced differently in the Arab world, Israel, and probably Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

                                                      Americans can't even pronounce pasta correctly it is not pahsta in Italy. It's an Italian word but so what, that's the way you pronounce it. We understand one another which is the only thing that's important. There are plenty of foreign food words mispronounced around the world such as bain-marie, filet, tabouleh, and a whole mess of French words, Italian, Spanish, I can't even imagine what Chinese and Japanese and Thai think about how we say their foods!

                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                        ... and the Japanese make no difference between l and r. beesooboru == baseball, because it doesn't fit their language to have consonants jammed up against each other.

                                                        It's not just Americans who can't pronounce

                                                  3. who-moose or I guess we could write like you did hoo-moose. My husband lived in the middle east and people saying hum-us is one of his pet peeves.

                                                    1. Folks, we have no idea why a thread about pronunciation has grown as angry as this one has, but we're going to lock it now.