Thursday, October 29, 2015


With an emphasis on American :

Some years ago the word protégé had a brief vogue in fistic circles, and was often used by announcers at prize-fights. They always pronounced it proteege . I once heard a burlesque show manager, in announcing a French dancing act, pronounce M . and Mlle . as Em and Milly . And who doesn’t remember
As I walked along the Boys Boo-long
With an independent air
Say aw re-vore ,
But not good-by!
H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936).
I am sympathetic: I have my own troubles pronouncing French. And long long ago I thought that Goethe was pronounced gōth.

I’ve been at The American Language since June. Somewhere between pages 460 and 500 my energy began to wane, as I realized that this book may never end. But the logic of sunk costs requires that I continue.

Also from The American Language
The American a : The American v. the Englishman : “Are you a speed-cop? : B.V.D. : English American English : “[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty” : On professor : Playing policy : “There are words enough already” : The -thon , dancing and walking Through -thing and -thin’ : The verb to contact

[The Boys Boo-long: the Bois de Boulogne.]

comments: 5

Geo-B said...

And for some reason, people insist on pronouncing that great Michigan city de-twois as dee-troit!

Daughter Number Three said...

Have I mentioned before that there's a street in Binghamton, New York, named Goethe and pronounced Goeethee? Not to mention Beethoven Street.... You can imagine.

Michael Leddy said...

Here in Illinois we have Bourbonnais, often pronounced burr-BO-niss .

brownstudy said...

In our high school production of "Plaza Suite," no one thought to look up how to pronounce "baguette". My friend who played that part is still mortified by his mispronunciation.

Michael Leddy said...

That’s a charming mistake.