Potato, Potahto

Nephtoo has been missing of late. Not missing missing… just missing around here. Admittedly, both Neph and Nephtoo have been missing, and I miss them. Opac and Veruca have been missing them too. We must fix this. Especially if I am to not continue to embarrass myself with my mispronunciations.

Herewith follows a snapshot of a conversation I was not a part of, but was inspired to share secondhand. Mostly because apparently I was accused of being stuffy. More on that later – let’s get down to the dirty details.

Nephtoo – a scholarly young man who knows just as much as he knows not – recently questioned whether the word vase was vah-z or vay-z, and his mother said – and I would have to agree wholeheartedly – that [we] don’t make enough money to own a vahze. So, middle class masses – it is VAYzes for you! Or, if you’re like me, you have amassed a cloudy collection of florist vases from all the flower deliveries ever received since 1989, and have stored them under the kitchen sink.

Still, it does raise the question – how much do we have to make to own a vahze? I need to know this. Today. Because I’m adding it to my bucket list. I will one day buy a vahze. And I will put fresh cut flowers from my gardens in it, and place it on the dining room table. Or maybe on my bedside table. Maybe I’ll carry it from room to room. Or would that be too eccentric? You’re laughing – and it’s not because I would carry my vahze from room to room. If you know me, really really know me, then you are laughing at my gardens. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back in Nephtoo’s world, the conversation segued into how I pronounce “fondant.” Nephtoo asked if I was stuffy for pronouncing it fon-DONt. Stuffy?! Confession – this is a word I’ve always been uncomfortable saying out loud – kind of like the word “sherbet.”

So I Googled the pronunciation of fondant. In English, the proper pronunciation is FON-dunt. I always thought it was fon-DONt. And actually, in French it’s pronounced fo-ndaw. So I was half right. And no one at the restaurant ever corrected me, which is surprising since Andy wastes no time correcting my speech in the kitchen – though he would let me walk around with spinach between my two front teeth all night.

The pronunciation of “ramen” became an endless source of laughter one evening a few months ago at my expense. Apparently I’ve been saying that wrong too. I said RAY-men and Neph thought this enormously funny. The correct pronunciation is as the Japanese say, RAH-men. And now I have to constantly correct Veruca’s pronunciation of it every time she asks for it and, like the diva she is, she refuses to be corrected.

This brings to mind a waiter we had – back in the days where we had to recite the evening’s specials – who insisted on pronouncing basil, baa-zil (baaa, as in sheep) instead of BAY-zil. This was a guy who marched to the beat of his own tackle box, like the night he marched it in from his trunk and over to a table to show them all his fishing gear. Which had absolutely nothing to do with basil.




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