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How do you pronounce "sherbet?" [tangent from General Topics]

Katie Nell Jul 13, 2006 05:35 PM

I am also curious... how do you all pronounce sherbet? (It's an ongoing discussion in our household!)

  1. c
    cbrunswick Oct 30, 2006 11:57 PM

    Just came across this site and found it interesting. My maiden name was Sherbet. No "r", just like the ice cream. I went through life with all my teachers pronouncing it "Sherbert". Very upseting. The origin of the word is Arabic/Turkish. It is still very common today and denotes a sweet cold dessert for them. Proper pronounciation is Sherbet.

    Just an added tidbit for you.

    1. l
      lympicita Aug 23, 2006 02:26 PM

      Being from the part of England that I am from, it's always been "Sheerbert".

      Having said that, when I was a child "sheerbert" was a white powderey thing that you dipped a stick of liquorice into. If you put any into a fizzy drink it would always fizz over. Ahh happy days.

      1. TexasToast Aug 15, 2006 09:35 AM

        Sherburt = "Shur But" with no second post-vocalic "r".


        1. biscuit Jul 19, 2006 03:57 AM

          Sure bet. :)

          1. s
            SuzyInChains Jul 19, 2006 03:39 AM

            The R in sherbet is the rarely used "reverse silent letter". This is very uncommon in English, but does occur in various geographic areas in words such as Florida (Florider) and idea (idear).

            1. alan Jul 18, 2006 06:10 PM

              If you enjoy such discussions (and I certainly do) here's a source for a couple of hours of similar pleasures: http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/...

              1 Reply
              1. re: alan
                mclaugh Oct 31, 2006 01:44 AM

                Response "c" to #77 made me ROTFLMAO.

              2. l
                lulusugarpop Jul 18, 2006 05:28 PM

                dictionary.com says both ways are acceptable


                1 Reply
                1. re: lulusugarpop
                  Bill on Capitol Hill Jul 18, 2006 10:27 PM

                  Dictionary.com is wrong :-). Dictionaries tend to be "descriptivist," meaning that if enough people do it wrong, it gets recorded. But obviously there's no "bert" in the word.

                2. a
                  Akatonbo Jul 18, 2006 03:24 PM

                  I know. It's a joke I use to amaze foreigners. Makes them grateful the English language isn't worse than it actually is.

                  1. JMF Jul 18, 2006 01:02 PM

                    Akatonbo- As far as I know Ghoti is a made up word used as a linguisitcs tool and is not an actual real word in the English language.

                    1. p
                      PaulV Jul 16, 2006 04:49 AM

                      I'm in Canada and have always pronounced it 'sherbet' (no 'r'). That said, it doesn't seem to be as common now as it was when I was growing up - or perhaps we just don't buy it anymore.

                      1. m
                        mrnyc Jul 16, 2006 03:54 AM

                        we pronounced it both ways.

                        speaking of sherbet, what about "gyro" and the whole jy-row versus hee-row thang? that's another one.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mrnyc
                          rabaja Jul 16, 2006 05:11 AM

                          You mean [yur-ro] ? :}

                          1. re: rabaja
                            Das Ubergeek Jul 16, 2006 09:00 PM

                            ITYM "yee-rohss".

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              Rubee Jul 17, 2006 06:03 AM

                              Yes - that's the 'correct' way (and the only way in Greece), but here in the US, all my Greek friends always say "Jy-row" or "Jeer-o" as the accepted Greek-American pronunciation. They tell me if you pronounce it the correct way, you're the only one, even at Greek restaurants, so they pronounce it that way here, and "Yee-rohss" when they're back home visiting. Funny, huh?

                              OTOH - I grew up in New England, don't say 'warsh', but do say "sher-bert"

                              1. re: Rubee
                                mclaugh Oct 31, 2006 01:36 AM

                                > Yes - that's the 'correct' way (and the only way in Greece)

                                Um ... not the ONLY way: there are regional differences in pronunciation (accents) in Greece, just as there are in most countries, so it depends on the Greek who's doing the pronouncing. ;-)

                        2. m
                          MikeLM Jul 15, 2006 02:10 AM

                          I learned to talk in Missouri, so it's "warsh" with me. There's other words, too and my wife (from Pennsylvania) has always said I sound a lot like Harry Truman. I quess I've mostly said "sherbert", too, though I can swing both ways. I'm comfortable with "sher-bet", it's just that I have to stop and think for an instant to say it that way.

                          Speaking of an instant's pause, I grew up saying "APER-cot." Dunno whether I got that in MO or in MD, where I mostly grew up. Nowadays I almost always have that momentary reflection and say "APri-cot."

                          My wife (the PA girl) has no shame, and still calls 'em "aper-cots." I flinch a little every time she does it in public.


                          1. Das Ubergeek Jul 14, 2006 10:50 PM

                            I always say "sherbert", and I'm from New Jersey. I took a couple of semesters of RP, though, which ruined me for life, and the lecturer took pains to point out that in RP it's pronounced "sherbet", as it comes from Farsi "sharbat".

                            I think "sherbet" sounds affected, unless you swallow the second syllable so much you can't detect whether there's an extra "r" in there or not.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              jfood Jul 15, 2006 12:27 PM

                              DU - What's RP?

                              1. re: jfood
                                Das Ubergeek Jul 15, 2006 11:07 PM

                                Received Pronunciation, or as it's also known, "BBC English". It's taught to music and journalism majors at some schools. If you've ever listened to Silvia Poggioli on NPR, you've heard RP.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                  mrnyc Jul 16, 2006 03:56 AM

                                  is that like tiffin english?

                                  1. re: mrnyc
                                    Das Ubergeek Jul 16, 2006 08:59 PM

                                    I don't know what tiffin English is (tiffin is a light lunch) -- can you clarify?

                              2. re: Das Ubergeek
                                Caitlin McGrath Jul 19, 2006 01:29 AM

                                Wow, I'm surprised to hear you say you think sherbet sounds affected; perhaps that's *because* you took classes in RP, which told you that it's the correct pronunciatiation, though you grew up saying "sherbert"? I've always assumed its some kind of regional thing (but also felt vindicated by dictionaries' first preference agreeing with how I say it [g]). I grew up in California saying sherbet, as did everyone I knew, including my parents, who are from NY and Wisconsin.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                  Das Ubergeek Jul 20, 2006 12:45 AM

                                  That's probably the reason. I grew up saying "sherbert" and hearing "sherbet" to me says, "This person is making a conscious effort not to sound lower-class."

                                  Did I mention that I especially like nukular-coloured sherbert? (Just kidding. I don't say "nukular".)

                                  I avoid the whole thing by eating "ice cream". Which I don't pronounce "ass cream", as my cousins in Georgia do.

                              3. s
                                Snackysnack Jul 14, 2006 09:31 PM

                                I said sher-bert until my pastry chef sister finally cured me of it. She says there's no such thing as sher-bert - it's sher-bet. I trust her, and if you knew her credentials, you would, too.
                                But I'm still planning on naming my next pet Sherbert. And when she says there's no such thing - I will simply point and say, "Who's that, then?".

                                1. jillp Jul 14, 2006 09:05 PM

                                  It's sher-bet in my house.

                                  Reminds me of my friend Joel, whose sister sent him off to buy some sherbet when he was a lad. She impressed upon him the importance of pronouncing the word correctly - sher-bet - and explained that there was only one R in the word. So when he got to the head of the line to order, he asked for raspberry sheb-ert.

                                  1. MMRuth Jul 14, 2006 07:44 PM

                                    Sher-bet and sorebay here ...

                                    1. jfood Jul 14, 2006 10:27 AM

                                      cast another vote for sher-bert and warsh. not quite sure when sher-bert turned into sor-bay.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jfood
                                        JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Jul 14, 2006 10:41 AM

                                        That would be when they took the milk out of the sherbet. A sherbet has in it milk, fruit, and sugar; sorbet has just the fruit and sugar.

                                        1. re: MisterFister
                                          toodie jane Jul 15, 2006 02:13 PM

                                          I used to sell bedding plants. All the varieties have fancy names like Monarch Gold or Bingo Red with Wings. A line of violas was the 'Sorbet' series, and all my customers would call them Sore Butts. LOL!!

                                      2. davinagr Jul 13, 2006 05:41 PM

                                        Sher-bert...lol which is probably wrong...but I've always pronounced it that way.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: davinagr
                                          Katie Nell Jul 13, 2006 05:47 PM

                                          See, this is the argument... I have always pronounced it sher-bet and my bf has always pronounced it like you! Surely there is no silent r?!

                                          1. re: Katie Nell
                                            davinagr Jul 13, 2006 06:37 PM

                                            Now I'm wondering if I'm one of those annoying "wash-wersh" people by calling the Sherbet, "Sherbert". Do you know what I mean?

                                            1. re: davinagr
                                              Katie Nell Jul 13, 2006 06:53 PM

                                              Oh, certainly! (My parents say "wersh"... well it's more like "worsh!" I always thought it was a Midwest thing!!) Hopefully others will weigh in on the "sherbert" thing!!

                                              1. re: davinagr
                                                Covert Ops Jul 13, 2006 06:55 PM

                                                No it's not you. I've always said/heard "sherbert" and I'm from up North (so I don't say "warsh").

                                                Merriam-Webster's lists "sherbet" (pronounced without the R) first, but spelling and pronouncing it sherbert is also acceptable. The definition also says "an ice with milk, egg white, or gelatin added" so I supposed it may be dairy-free (though not animal-free).

                                                1. re: Covert Ops
                                                  Akatonbo Jul 14, 2006 01:55 PM

                                                  I'm from New York, and I say "sher-bert." What's wrong with that? So what if there's no "r?" When has that ever stopped us English speakers? One of my favorite things to do with non-native English speakers is to show them the word "ghoti" and ask them how they think it's pronounced. Well, it's pronounced "fish." It has the "f" sound from "rouGH," the "ih" sound from "wOmen," and the "sh" sound from "naTIon." English is so much fun! Why try to make it rational?

                                                2. re: davinagr
                                                  Fydeaux Jul 13, 2006 09:38 PM

                                                  This reminds me of an Eddie Izzard routine about herbs, in which he pronounces the H. He said that someone asked him why he called them Herbs and he said, "Because there's a F**k**g H in it!"

                                                  A few weeks ago, I was listening to an interview on Milwaukee Public Radio with someone who sells herbs and spices at a local farmer's market, and she regularly pronounced the H. The interviewer, walking into it, asked her why she pronounced the H, and the lady replied, "Because there's a [short pause] H in it!"

                                                  Well, it was funny at the time.

                                                  1. re: davinagr
                                                    Candy Jul 13, 2006 09:47 PM

                                                    It was always sherbert in my family.

                                                3. re: davinagr
                                                  hatless Aug 23, 2006 02:36 PM

                                                  The 1970s Australian pop group Sherbert "racked up nine consecutive gold albums and eighteen hit singles" in its native country according to the 1978 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, but its US realeases on major-label MCA didn't go much of anywhere.

                                                  I suppose they'd fall in the "sher-'bert" camp, though obviously with a different accent than the New England and Mid-Atlantic Americans here.

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