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Apr 28, 2013 04:48 PM

When do you correct incorrect pronunciation?

I usually let it slide when people pronounce the hundreds of words adopted from other languages which we use to refer to cooking techniques or recipes. However, I have a coworker who has fallen in love with the sous vide technique and chatters about it nonstop which is fine but she says "souSSS viDDDe" with a very snake like sssssss. I'm not judging her at all, but feel like many in the world would as she flaunted her sousSSS viDDDe dishes. If it were a random utterance, I wouldn't mention anything but I just feel like a quick correction would save the snakes. When you know it's not a mispronunciation due to a regional dialect or just the manner in which someone speaks, when do you correct others and when do you let it go? I imagine if it's a family member you might make a mention especially for children, but do you do this for friends, coworkers, random people in the store or at a restaurant?

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    1. People who consistently mispronounce words after hearing them pronounced correctly many times are usually just tone deaf. You either have to be direct and correct her (very rude, unless it's your child or student), or you should just let it slide and put up with the annoyance.

      1. re: Isolda

        I think, in the case of family or close friends, it's not a matter of any "annoyance" on my part, but rather a wish that these loved ones are spared appearing to be dumbasses to others in future situations. I do it gently and in a one-on-one, after the fact conversation.

      2. I once had a back-and-forth with a coworker who kept pronouncing "vichyssoise" like visheeswah. I would respond something like "oh, I love visheeswaZ" to try to give her the hint, but she kept pronouncing it the other way.

        I think she thought she was right and was trying to correct me. I didn't like her, so I never bothered to tell her she was wrong. I don't think she'd have believed me anyway.

        1. re: LisaPA

          Reminds me of one of my (least) favorites: "Conn-see-air" for concierge.

          1. re: sandylc

            I recall a teacher using the word appetizer over hors d'oeuvre just to avoid saying it out for the spelling, I believe 4 diff ways.

            appetizer is so much easier..

      3. Random people, never. Coworkers, maybe. Friends and family, usually.

        8 Replies
        1. re: grampart

          Agreed. If you choose to say something to the co-worker, pronounce it correctly after she says it. Be ready with a laugh, a semi-hug, and a 'you know I love ya' if she seems embarrassed. Maybe throw in a short story of you mispronouncing something at one time. (Surely we've all done it sometime.) I had a similar issue last Thursday. My salesperson emailed the manager of Tim Love's new restaurant and said somewhere in the email that the restaurant had peaked her interest. The manager emailed back and set an appointment and said 'We're so glad to be open," to which my salesperson replied 'I'm so glad your open to!" Fantastic salesperson, but oh, the spelling!

          1. re: KrumTx

            Cute story, very clever response.

            1. re: KrumTx

              Sending you a laugh and a semi-hug in order to say perhaps it's also okay to let someone who obviously cares about spelling know that it's not "peaked her interest" but "piqued her interest".

              1. re: Chatsworth

                I actually knew that. It was part of the horror of the email. But I'll take the semi-hug!

                1. re: KrumTx

                  Can't believe I missed that, and hope I didn't cause any offence. "Glad your open to" correcting misunderstandings!

                  1. re: Chatsworth

                    Ha! It was my bad ... I should have put it in quotes in my original post. I'm going to leave this thread now before I become the subject of the 'Ignoring an individual poster' thread. Happy Monday, everyone.

                2. re: KrumTx

                  Yes, MANY people do not realize that it's "pique one's interest". It's possible to correct another's spelling, pronunciation, etc., in a breezy way so as not to cause embarrassment. Personally, I am grateful to have my errors corrected. Usually it's a word that I've seen forever in print, but never heard in conversation. (Chimera comes to mind.)
                  I don't consider it rude to inform someone when they are using incorrect pronunciation; correct usage might in the future be the difference between success and failure in a job or social situation.

                1. re: meatnveg

                  LOL! OH GOD does this bring back a bad memory. I had consumed a glass (or two) of wine, and my adult nephew said he did something 'similar' to someone else. Before I could stop myself, the 'ly' popped out of my mouth. I got horrified looks all around (totally deserved) and then before I could stop myself, I started explaining that since the word 'similar' was being used to modify the verb XXX, it should be used in the adverb form; thus-similarly. The whole time in MY OWN head I was sceaming 'STOP!!! STOP this RIGHT NOW!!!'. I have never forgiven myself, and certainly never done anything like this again. My nephew probably wouldn't even remember this if I brought it up!

                  1. re: justme123

                    Ha. Hubby and I are always shouting "ly!" at the television. It doesn't listen. Adverbs have all but disappeared.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I'm glad I'm not the only one with TV Tourette's!!
                      "-ly" and
                      "more not 'errrrr' "

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        Mr S and I always call out the 'mmmm's for who vs whom. Especially during Castle. He's a writer and should know better (and has actually referenced who vs whom on the show).

                        1. re: Sooeygun

                          Oh Castle drives me nuts.
                          In one episode he miscorrected a "just between you and" I/me "error."

                          I also find myself saying "MORE" as opposed to whatever "errr" has been said
                          [funn-er. ugh].

                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                              There was a great New Yorker cartoon I cut out and posted in my study: two guys in a bar, one says "You have no idea what it's like to be a 'just between you and me' person in a 'just between you and I' world." When hoity toity BBC period dramas do it, it really gets my goat.

                              (That cartoon hangs next to the one where the guy in the restaurant orders the "misspelled 'ceasar' salad and the improperly hyphenated 'osso-buco'" and the one where the woman says to her husband "I don't want your apology -- I want you to be sorry.")

                              Worse than "who" for "whom" -- which I believe has a claim to some legitimacy in sermo quotidianus -- is "whom" for "who."

                        2. re: sandylc

                          Which is disappearing, adverbs as a functional category, or that particular method of forming adverbs from adjectives?

                          According to this, adverbs serve a wide range of function, it is almost a catch-all category. Plus there are words that don't change form when used either way.

                          English has lost (or never had) many markers that are common in other languages. We don't have gender markers, or case markers. We readily turn nouns in to verbs, and v.v. (e.g. hammer). So I wouldn't surprise me if there's a tendency to lose the '-ly' marker. I wonder if anyone has studied this.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I wonder, also. I am in my fifties, and I have seen a lot of changes in our language in my lifetime.

                            1. re: paulj

                              "We don't have gender markers..."

                              Thank goodness! I don't understand why these exist, except to torture language learners! (Or to assist in making them sound even more foolish!)

                            2. re: sandylc

                              The tv just never listens. I'm always yelling ly and well not good at it. Along with some frustrated grumbling about verb subject agreement.

                              1. re: zitronenmadchen

                                I've never thought to "talk" to the TV about a grammar mistake, but if I see CC Sabatthia throw a first pitch breakin' ball with runners on second and third, I howl my disapproval at the screen.

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  Coming from a person who can't be bothered to write words pronounced properly. I still don't get it. Is it supposed to be cute? Funny? Represent how you speak in real life?

                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    Well, as I've posted several times before, I want other 'hounds to read what I submit in my voice, so I undertook an experiment to try and recreate my speech patterns/accent in what I put up. Until the inevitable happens and we simply record audio files for our posts, payin' attention to the way I speak and offering my thoughts in all their colloquial and last "g" droppin' glory seemed to be the best way to avoid other 'hounds from failing to see the good natured spirit of what I have to "say". Remember, after all, this is a "conversation."

                                    By the way, there ain't nothin' about me that's "cute".

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      <offering my thoughts in all their colloquial and last "g" droppin' glory seemed to be the best way to avoid other 'hounds from failing to see the good natured spirit of what I have to "say".>

                                      "Good natured spirit" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when readin' all that droppin'. At least, not for me.

                                      1. re: Jay F

                                        "'Good natured spirit'" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when readin' all that droppin'."

                                        What does? Would you feel the same way if you were sitting with me and I was talking?

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          If you were talkin', I doubt I'd be noticin' that you're purposely leavin' out the letter "g." But you're not talkin'. You're writin'. And writin's different. Your leavin' out your "g"s on purpose makes me feel like I'm readin' an 8-year-old rather than a grown man.

                                          I tend to read a couple of lines of your writin' before it starts drivin' me crazy, and move on to the next poster. It's so affected.

                                          I don't mean to be offendin' you, but writin' ain't talkin', and I thought maybe someone ought to be tellin' you.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            I don't even bother readin' a coupla lines any more.

                                            1. re: Chatsworth

                                              Like Jay's, your comment is noted. It's too bad though, because sometimes subtlety is expressed in ways that one may fail to understand without stepping back and reflecting upon it.

                                              Nonetheless, as I have noted more than once, I have a propensity for opacity sometimes. It doesn't bother me that some folks can't see through it. The most important thing* I took from grad school is that, psychologically, people have little choice but to interpret things through their experience. All I have been thinking about, when it comes to this experiment, has been how to mitigate the chances for conflict based upon misunderstanding.

                                              *The second most important thing was that EVERY parent f*cks up something.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                "EVERY parent f*cks up something."

                                                something I refer to on a regular and forgiving basis when musing on my neurotic childhood.

                                            2. re: Jay F

                                              As I said, it's been an experiment -trying to post in dialogue. After many years, I couldn't help but question whether this really is writing or are we blurring lines? I've been paid to write, edited for publication, and have a few pieces of sheepskin hanging on the wall. I understand how the language is put forth in letters.

                                              I also, however, understand that this ain't a Law Review article or a Circuit Court brief. It is, in essence, a conversation among friends. In good fiction, characters speak in their "voices", right? Does that make it bad writing? Or does it help convey a sense of them so as to further what they're saying?

                                              In fairness, an eight year old would have a great deal of trouble "hearing" their own voice and writing dialogue. Writing "by the rules" is easy, trying to understand when you drop your g's and when you don't is actually quite an incite producing exercise to undertake. I find my "Jersey Drawl" is much more Southern California surf than the "New York Mobster" that most people associate with the Garden State. Interestingly, it has made me more attuned to the "voices" of people I deal with in real life.

                                              As you can see, I am still interested in the experiment. So far, I have noticed a decline in the number of times my comments have been misunderstood and reacted to poorly. I do, however, appreciate your thoughts - how else can one analyze such an experiment, right? At bottom, I do little without thought, and I am never afraid to revisit any idea I have had.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                I have never heard the phrase "incite producing exercise". Interesting. Should it be hypenated?

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I'll pass on the punctuation question and note that I think all mental exercises should, ultimately, produce incite. Otherwise, do they have value? You, sandy, however, are welcome to take the phrase as your own. However, when you make millions on a best-selling, self-help book, send this old 'hound a bone?

                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                    Not sure of your meaning on the self-help book? Do I appear to need self-helping? I'm sure I probably do.

                                                    Not sure how to produce incite, as it is a verb, not a noun - ?

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      "Produce incite" is two verbs, unless it means to incite vegetables. But incite them to do what, prep themselves for cooking? I could have used some "incite" on my "produce" tonight, namely my green beans for dinner. They don't tail and top themselves.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        Gee, I hope that incited veggies don't start turning up on trendy menus.

                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                          Maybe I am a music producer and I work with a band named "incite".

                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                          I was just trying to be funny after you spotted my original spelling error. Seemed somehow Dr. Phil-ish to me.

                                                      2. re: MGZ

                                                        "I find my "Jersey Drawl" is much more Southern California surf" interesting MGZ, when I lived in Kansas I heard a lot of SoCal in the voices, especially in the vowels, later I surmised it had something to do with the massive Dust Bowl migration and Route 66 decades earlier.

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          characters in literature speak in their dialectal voices all the time.

                                                          i think it is a good communication skill to be able to convey in writing a voice that i can "hear."

                                                          carry on talkin', MGZ.

                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                            <<So far, I have noticed a decline in the number of times my comments have been misunderstood and reacted to poorly.>>

                                                            Perhaps fewer people are reading your posts.

                                                            That's a pronunciation/emphasis joke that would do Very Well when said aloud, but is almost indecipherable when written.

                                                            <<In fairness, an eight year old would have a great deal of trouble "hearing" their own voice and writing dialogue. >>

                                                            8-yr-olds write authentically in their own voice without artifice. They don't need to force it.
                                                            And, where is the 8 yr old writer who is relevant to this discussion?

                                                            Finally, see Skitt’s Law.

                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                              Yeah, I thought it was funny too. I use a device with spell correct because I decided not to post in my "voice" and my "i n s i t" Popped up as "incite". I am very prone to self-deprecation and laugh at myself frequently (otherwise my wife would be laughing alone). Besides, isn't egg supposed to be good for the skin on your face?

                                                              As to fewer people reading my posts, I spose that was a chance I took with my experiment. Nothin' ventured, and all . . . .

                                                              I'm working on my third cook of corned beef on the offset with a new spice rub and have changed fuel slightly. I'll post about that tomorrow or the next day. Folks can skip it if they like.* My progressive brain really doesn't let me care.

                                                              *My cooks tend to be different from those of others since they typically require a chain saw, an axe, and knowin' how to age wood. I always figured that's why there were so few responses. There is, however, a great deal to learn when one has the balls to play with food and break stuff. Like they say about makin' an omelette, right?

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                You are truly a man among men that we should all emulate.

                                                                1. re: kengk

                                                                  Truer words have never been spoken.

                                                              2. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                Ah-hh....insight. I was particularly thick-headed on that one; probably the migraine. :-(

                                                        2. re: MGZ

                                                          MGZ, I appreciate your explanation about the conversational tone you choose to use when posting on CH. I, too, have noticed and wondered about it, especially when it seems to require more work on your part.

                                                          FWIW, your doing so has had the effect you intend when I read your posts...there are times when I may wonder where you are coming from when you comment on a thread, but the way you "sound" in your posts conveys good humor and congeniality.

                                                          Thanks for clearing up that mystery for me :-)

                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                            I realized in advance that some people would get it and some wouldn't. That's the way life works, right?

                                                            One of the most interesting things about the experiment has been "hearin'" myself. I actually recorded my voice talking to others and recognized that I drop my g's more with some people than others. My vocabulary also seems to expand more with certain folks than with others. Tryin' to recreate all that is more work, but it's honest.

                                                            Another upside to the project has been becoming aware of how often I would use the word "like" as a stall or an adverb. Consequently, I have gotten much better about it lately. Also, it's funny how frequently people who maybe can write the "King's English" insert random "um's" into the words they say in person. Language is language and as I've gotten older I have realized just how cool it is to watch it evolve.

                                                            That last point, I think, has fueled most of my responses to this thread. I can understand Chaucer, but it doesn't "speak" to me, you know? Although I think the dialogue is brilliant, life is different now. I used to be a corrector, a prescriptivist - then I started listening and concluded that evolution is a positive. Why give a sh*t if someone says "'souSSS viDDDe' with a very snake like sssssss"? Someday that may become the preferred pro-noun-c-a-shin.

                                                            Anyway, as with Jay and Chatsworth, I sincerely appreciate the feedback on my trial. Chow on, right?

                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                              Chow on, indeed! find your observations interesting and thought-provoking.

                                                              As the mother of a 12-year-old with a decent command of the English language relative to her peer group, I find it fascinating to listen to conversations she has with her friends. Sometimes I am dismayed, other times I am highly amused, and still other times I find myself admiring the wit and honesty in their communication. Your point about evolution is very apt, and it would be outright silly for me to spend time correcting my daughter and her friends based on standards that were in place when I was her age.

                                                          2. re: MGZ

                                                            I wouldn't correct someone's pronunciation unless I knew that they would prefer I do so, with the two exceptions being my husband and daughter.

                                                            I grew up with a maiden name that was never pronounced correctly, despite my best efforts to speak slowly and clearly. It is 11 letters long and is a somewhat non-Norwegian sounding name considering the name comes from a farming community in Norway. My relatives cannot agree on how to pronounce it. I decided early on it wasn't worth correcting people and have pretty much taken that approach to all areas of conversation.. (OT sidenote: I still like to tease my husband of almost 32 years that I married him for his last name. 6 letters and easy to pronounce and spell!)

                                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                                              "[T]he two exceptions being my husband and daughter."

                                                              I s'pose that's the nail on the head for me. It boils down to the difference between being a d*ck and being a parent.

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                Yeah, I feel obligated to help my daughter learn, especially when it is something she will be embarrassed by mispronouncing later on.

                                                                It's trickier with the spouse....I respect his feelings enough to correct him discreetly if we are with others. At home, though, it's okay for us to correct in front of the kid as I think it's important that she understands learning is a lifetime thing and we don't magically know everything when we reach adulthood.

                                                              2. re: jlhinwa

                                                                jhinwa: same here, 9 letters and the first four are consonants. I just say cheerily "close enough!" when it's inevitably mangled.

                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                  "I just say cheerily 'close enough!' when it's inevitably mangled."

                                                                  Nine out of ten doctors agree that you'll likely live longer with that approach.

                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                    Close it! It was amusing to hear how my name got butchered lots of times, but there were other times that it was a PITA. Slight tangent: right now I am up to my eyeballs dealing with my aging mom's medical issues and am on the phone with health care professionals on a daily basis. I always have to say her name, spell her name including the "s, as in sam, v as in valley, e as in elephant," etc. Then I have to spell it again. And then it is still wrong. :-) Lately this has been a 2-4 times a day occurrence, which makes me happy to have my easy last name.

                                                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                      jlhinwa, I sympathize. Regarding your mom, that is. I am also swimming in the same situation regarding parental health issues. It is a thankless and nonstop task. I can only hope there is some sort of small reward ahead.

                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                        Thanks for your kind words, sandylc. Unfortunately, things appear rather grim right now but the one thing I know about my mom is that she is unpredictable. (She was dx'd with stage 4 terminal metastatic breast cancer 16 years ago with a prognosis of just a few months to live, yet here she is. :-) ). One way or another, we will get through. I find spending time on CH a great reading about cooking and food experiences, and I can check in from my iPhone even while hanging out in a hospital room or doctor's office.

                                                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                          CH is a great distraction/hobby when life is very demanding. We are dealing with kidney failure here.

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            Hugs to you, sandylc. That is really hard. We don't know exactly what we dealing with despite a 3-1/2 week hospital stay and a gazillion tests. Her docs joked about calling in Dr. House because she is such a "puzzle." Today the puzzle got a ticket back to the hospital by ambulance...sigh. Getting back to the chow, the hospital she is at has amazingly good food for both patients and hospital guests. The patients can order whatever they like, whenever they like, from a room service menu (well, as long as there are no dietary restrictions). They cook to order and their speed of service is impressive--and no gratuity allowed. :-)

                                                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                              So sorry this has happened to you and yours. Hospital food lesson that I have learned: Order a bunch of stuff all at once and then eat only the things that show up the most edible!

                                                                              Good Luck.

                                                                  2. re: jlhinwa

                                                                    Hahaha, my maiden (and now current) last name is only 5 letters, and a really common English word. NO ONE can pronounce it when reading it, or spell it when hearing it. Out of habit, I always spell it out whenever mentioning it.

                                                                    When I married, I thought the new 5-letter name would be easier, because it wasn't a common word - it wasn't.

                                                                    1. re: tracylee

                                                                      tracylee, that is funny. My last name is Hiller. While infinitely easier than my previous name, I am still amazed at how people will mess it up. Miller, Heller, or my favorite (not!), Hitler.

                                                                      I have a good friend whose last name is Lee. She continuously deals with people who are shocked to find out when they meet her that she is Caucasian and not Chinese. Crazy, huh?

                                                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                        I can see how that would be hard.

                                                                        I have a friend (Chinese/American) who's maiden name is Lee. We always joked that I should marry her brother so I could be Tracy Lee Lee!

                                                                        Back to food, I spent a Thanksgiving dinner with her and her extended family when my folks were out of town. Her parents had owned a restaurant, and other than the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes catching on fire, the dinner was great!

                                                    2. Could you perhaps find a video clip to send to her where someone is talking about Sous Vide-ing, and says it 1000 times.
                                                      Sent in that excited "oh have you seen this!!?? Made me think of you!!" way, of course.

                                                      1. Just let it go. It's not worth the angst

                                                        12 Replies
                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            And how do you pronounce "angst"? :)

                                                            Since I was a German major, mispronounced German words make me fidget a bit, and they have some tongue-twisters. Gewuerztraminer, anyone? Or Zigeunerschnitzel?

                                                            But I'd never correct someone, unless they tried to correct MY German pronounciation. Then I would have to take great pleasure in the misfortune of the soul who thought their German was better than mine as I gave them a German lesson :)

                                                            1. re: coney with everything

                                                              I cringe on the inside when I hear that "Ängst" or similar......!

                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                  Many people say "aingst" (like "hang-st" without the "h")

                                                                      1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                        I have only heard it pronounced this way and had to look it up. Apparently this is NOT an alternate pronunciation. Going to take some getting used to but hey I learned something new!

                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                          Isn't the American pronunciation different from German?


                                                                          I would feel awkward saying, "onxt" when speaking English. I also say double entendre--duhbul en tahn drah when speaking English. When speaking French, I'd say doobl(e) entendr(e).

                                                                      2. re: Jay F

                                                                        Depending on the specific situation, I might try adding some other information so it didn't look like I was correcting the person. In this case, something like: "I saw a cooking show about sous vide. They said it is French for "under vacuum". It's amazing how many cooking terms come from French."

                                                                        1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                          This is exactly what c oliver meant in the very first response in this thread, "in context."

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            Yes, and I was just saying that my context would be adding something informative, as opposed to asking a question ("So did you buy a sous vide machine? How much are they?") or providing affirmation ("Oh, I love sous vide too!").

                                                                            And I see that I replied to the wrong poster in any event.