A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, January 21, 2011 :::
Fun one for the weekend.

A Mind That Suits has had a lot on his plate the last few days, and rather exhausted himself with longer posts.  He has some serious thoughts brewing in the back of his mind, or perhaps stewing, but he leaves you here with a greatest hit, one of his favorite posts from his previous stint as a blogger, and he wishes one and all a blessed and restful weekend.

Dive Into the Endive

A waitress friend--oh, sorry, a female server friend--was fuming. She is Brazilian, and was offering an hors d’oeuvre--if that is spelled correctly--on endive, the usefully shapped green that forms the basis of so many such foods. Following the rules of English pronunciation, she said, well, endive. A pretentious guest corrected her with "on-deev."

The guest didn't even do the usual, passive-aggressive offensive thing, which is to thank the server ostentiously while inserting the "correct" pronunciation, complete with verbal quotation marks.  "Why, yes, thank you, I will have the whateveritis on,....."on--deev."   She said it bluntly: "You're supposed to say "on-deev," or something like that.

Now, the first thing that makes this so offensive is that the waitress is in a subordinate position, and a person of more elevated status should not needlessly make her life more difficult.

The second thing that makes this so offensive is that the waitress--oh, sorry, female server--was speaking English, her second language. Why make her accountable for a third, in this case, French?

Except that "on-deev" is not French. True enough, the "i" in French sounds like the "e" in English, though only a linguist could tell you if they are truly identical.


The correct French pronunciation involves a nasal sound. While a Certain Pudgy, Balding English teacher has received many compliments from French people on his French pronunciation--which compliments he gladly reminds everyone are rarely handed out by French people--he did finally hear himself recorded in French and realized with horror that his nasal sounds were not exactly right.

Which makes him think the pretentious guest did not get the "n" right either. So, too, she probably did not get the "d" correct, nor the final "e," which is not silent, as in English. It is a ghostly presence, but it is a presence nonetheless.

'When in Rome, do like the Romans" said Shakespeare.. It's application here is, "When speaking English, use Engilsh rules of pronunciation." That can be further honed as, "When using the English word 'endive,' use a long 'i', and don't inflict your pretentions on a poor waitress.

Urrr, female server. Person. Oh, you know.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 12:50 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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