EAT THIS, NOT THAT! – You’re in a restaurant, it’s your turn to order, and the table goes silent. You stare down at the menu, fixated on your dish of choice, and your palms begin to sweat.
Sure, you could take the easy way out and point to the menu but, instead, you ask for what you want.
If you didn’t get the word right, don’t worry about it. It could have been one of the top 10 most mispronounced foods. Even if you are a foodie, chances are you are saying some of these wrong.
The correct way to say it is ha·luh·pay·nyow or ha·luh·pee·no. The “j” is silent in Spanish words.
[Our take: the j is not exactly silent, it’s pronounced like an h. And though there is a p, there is no pee in jalapeño. The pepper is a hal-uh-pain-yo; just don’t get hal-uh-toe-sis. – HH. Extra credit: Spanish uses the letter y for the j sound. So if you meet a girl named Yeni, call her Jenny.]
This Vietnamese noodle soup looks simple, but it is harder to say (and make) than you think. It is pronounced fuh not fo.
[Our take: Americans see pho and say fo, as in fee-fi-fo-fum. This is not going to change fo a long time. – HH. P.S. Sliced jalapeño is good on pho.]
This anchovy-spiked sauce is a wonderful source of umami and pronunciation laughs on cooking shows. If you pronounce this one phonetically, you are way off the mark. Acceptable pronunciations according to Preply and Merriam-Webster are wu-stuh-shuh, wu-stuh-shur, or wu-stuh-shir. And always three syllables, not wor-ces-ter-shire.
[Our take: The editor’s first news job was delivering the Worcester Telegram. So worcester-shire presents no problem for us. If you still need help, the Massachusetts city is wuss-stir and the sause is wuss-stir-shire. – HH]
With the rise of the ubiquitous fast-casual Tex-Mex restaurant chain, most of us probably get this one semi-right now. Of course, the restaurant chain is named after the smoked jalapeño. According to Preply, the Americanized version is chuh-powt-lay while the proper Mexican pronunciation is tchee-pot-leh. Both are fine but chee-po-til is not.
The popular frequently potato-based Italian pasta can be a source of pronunciation anxiety for some. If you know to skip over the “g” as you do in gnome, you’re on the right track. Also, if you think about the Pinocchio fable you’ll have the rest. The proper way to say this is no-kee, as in “I have no key.” And if you want a change, try gnudi. This is made in the same style as gnocchi but contains ricotta cheese instead of potato.
[We consulted the FBI (full-blooded Italian). It’s nyo-key. If someone at you table orders guh-notch-ee, hold your menu in front of your face so they don’t see you rolling your eyes.]
Most people know that the “i” is not pronounced at the beginning of croissant, but the “r” is also skipped. It sounds like kwa instead of the expected cro or croy sound. Preply says that correct pronunciation also skips the “t” but Merriam-Webster says it’s acceptable. You’ll sound fancier if you follow the French.
[Ad advertising copywriter we know dubbed it “the good times roll.” We like it.]