What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

27 October 2010

Mrs. Malaprop

You may not know this about me, but I'm a regular Mrs. Malaprop.

Actually, I'm not. I didn't really know what a "Mrs. Malaprop" is until I Googled it a moment ago, and found out that I've been using the expression incorrectly for a while. What I mean to say is, I'm really bad at pronouncing a word the first hundred times I see it, but I don't think there is an amusing literary character for that. Perhaps I'll write one.

In the meantime, my family and friends get a lot of enjoyment out of my difficulty with new words. At least I'm brave enough to try saying it, I say; they never answer because they are usually rolling on the ground laughing. (I'm often tempted to jab them with my umbrella.) Generally, if it is an English word in question, I put the accent on the wrong syllable, as in the case of "vicar", which I pronounced as "vie-car" for a year before someone stopped laughing long enough to correct me. With words that aren't English, Spanish, or Scots Gaelic (for all of which I at least have the basic tools for pronunciation), I just wildly swing for it and hope I land in the neighbourhood. The only problem with this approach is that I'm wrong about nine times out of four.

Pre-ganoush eggplants.
For instance, my first trip to The Pita Pit: I saw a sign informing me that avocados and "Baba Ganoush" were extra. I decided that whatever "baa-buh ganish" was, I wasn't brave enough to pay 50 extra cents to try it. So when the nice young man at the counter asked if I'd like any perfectly pronounced baba ganoush, I said, "Huh?" Yep, that's me, the rhetoric major and aspiring novelist. I have such a way with words. After politely declining and eating my delicious pita ganoush-free, I made a beeline to a computer to find out that it's like hummus, except made with eggplant. Why didn't they put that on the sign? You don't even want to know how I pronounce "gyro". Let's just say "badly" and leave it at that.

Even worse is when I know none of the words on the menu:
I: What's call-bus-chin-tzel?
Waiter (patiently): It's veal.
I: Oh. How about sour-brat-in?
Waiter (sighs): Pot roast.
I: Okay. What is cart-o-fill-puf-fer?
Waiter (rolls his eyes): What?
I (pointing at menu): That.
Waiter: Ah. Kartoffelpuffer. It's a potato pancake.
I (sensing that he is now expecting a rather large tip): I'll have that, thank you.
Waiter: Very good, mein frau. (runs away before I can ask what that means)

No, I'm better off at restaurants that have a life-size stick-on skeleton on the door and plastic Jack-O'-Lanterns glowing on the counters at this time of year. The places where they ask, "Would you like fries with that?" and the only words I need to know are "I'll have a number three, please." I can already say all of those words.

What a strange blog post, no? That's because it's in response to the Second Crusader Challenge. Think you would like a shot at it? Head on over to Rach Writes and see what the fuss is all about. And to check out the winner of the last Crusader Challenge, click here.


Jenny Beattie said...

Brilliant. I love baba ganoush!

Su said...

Apparently, I'm the last over-25 on the planet to hear of it. But now I have a recipe, so I'll be making myself soon. :)

Grandpa said...

Hi Su, very amusing...
Over here we like to go to Japanese restaurants where the menus are in pictures AND 3D plastic replica of whatever dish you want to order, isn't that simple?

Su said...

Ah, yes, that would be much easier!

Beth said...

Did you say "eh-pih-tome" for "epitome" like I did for years?

Su said...

I still say eh-pih-tome. But only for my own amusement.

Actually, my problem with "epitome" was the same problem I had with "segue": I learned the word before the spelling, so it took more convincing to get me to spell it correctly than say it correctly.

Timbra Wiist said...

i would think, haling from Indi, you'd know how to pronounce ANYTHING german!!!! i won't fault you though, I spent three years in classes :) let's just say the first time I can across "hors douvres" it was during a taboo game and I had NO idea HORSE dwer-voes???? But I never spell it incorrectly now :)

Rachael Harrie said...

Great post Su, love how you worked in the random words. So glad you could join in my Crusader Challenge (no idea how we'll choose the winner!) :)


Su said...

Psst... Timbra.. that part was fiction. Don't tell anybody, though! ;) Oh, yeah, "hors d'oeuvre" is another word I learned to pronounce long before I saw how it is spelled. I read that one in a rather unfortunate way for many years.

@Rach: Hmm. A sub-challenge, perhaps? Or a word war?

Denise Covey said...

Well this was different and very interesting! baba ganoush anyone?

The Weed said...

Very clever! Much up my alley. I especially loved how you worked in kartoffelpuffer. This was one of my favorites ;-) (This challenge is a really difficult thing to vote on!)

Su said...

@L'Aussie: I think I'm going to have to wait until after NaNoWriMo to make my own; guess I'll have to go back to Pita Pit & pay 50 cents if I want to try it. :)

@The Weed: Thanks! I feel the same way about voting-- it took me ages last night to choose one!

Marieke said...

Haha, took me a while to figure out the actual German words behind that! :D

Su said...

Hee hee. At this point, I'd have to look them up again.