Pronunciations which are legit but sound pretentious to outsiders

This came up on another thread a day or two back: when hearing the usual North American pronunciation of “pecan” (piKAHN), it sounds - to a British ear - like an over the top hypercorrection, like a gauche attempt to sound sophisticated (we say PEEk’n). A pronunciation equivalent of saying “yourself” instead of “you”, to try to sound formal. Another classic would be the hunk of meat which a Brit would pronounce FILLitt but an American would say fuLAY.

Caveats then:

  • No, its not a pretentious affectation and well I know it. I mean that it has that feel when heard by a Brit, because it would be if a Brit did it. We’ll have no judgemental “Ugh, have you heard how they say…” comments, please folks! If it’s the accepted norm then it’s the accepted norm, whatever the historical underpinning to how it came into being - even if the origin was falsely putting on (or avoiding) hoity toity airs and graces.
  • I haven’t used IPA as not everyone will understand it, but feel free if that’s how you roll.

So…what pronunciations sound like they’re beyond a simple difference of accent? Like they’re needlessly posh, is what I’m going for, but other ideas may crop up along the way.

Of course, you also say ‘TACK-o’, so… :stuck_out_tongue:

I had this issue with my audiobook narrator, who’s British but uses an American accent for narration. He has wonderful pronunciation and I know he’s right, but he’ll pronounce “dour” like “doo-er” (which is correct) and “valet” (the kind who helps you with your clothes, not the kind who parks your car) as “vallet” (rhymes with “mallet”) which is also correct, but I worried that listeners would think they’re wrong because hardly anybody in the US says them that way.

He also pronounces “err” correctly as “urr,” and “filet” as “FILLet,” which I asked him to change because everybody in the US says “fillAY.” :slight_smile:

So far nobody’s complained about it, so I guess either more people know the correct pronunciations than I thought, or nobody cares. :slight_smile:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the British pronunciation of those words has the opposite effect to Americans. It’s weirdly discordant, watching Downton Abby, and hearing these excruciatingly proper upper class English people drop a “vall-et” into the middle of a conversation. I half expect them to follow it up with a “y’all,” or maybe even a “darn tootin’!”

Offhand I’d say I’m peevish about the word ‘Chocolate’. In my environs of my growing up, it was always pronounced more like “CHAWK-lit”. Whenever I heard someone from somewhere else say it “CHOCK-uh-laht” or CHOCK-uh-lut" I always thought it was pretentious as hell.

‘Pecan’ was always “Pee-CAN”, as in can of soda or whatever. When I heard a new friend’s wife say “Pee-CAHN”, I thought she was Mrs Hoitytoity.

In New England we say “Aunt” to rhyme with “haunt.” Sounds totally normal to my ear (and “ant” sounds ridiculous), but apparently to the rest of the country it’s hilarious and over the top pretentious. To this I say: we were here first (well, second). We’re clearly correct. :stuck_out_tongue:

Have you heard the way Americans say penchant? It sound pretentious and Frenchy when you hear a Brit say it. The way you say pasta and herbs doesn’t sound pretentious, though. Just odd.

New one on me! I’ve never heard it with a hard t.

It is correct, however:

Generalissimo Franco accused me of engaging in junta talk.
I just said to him, “YOU’RE one ta talk.” :dubious:

I’m always flummoxed by “bruschetta.” I know it’s properly broo-SKET-uh, but the typical American pronunciation is “broo-SHET-uh.” So I end up saying something like “broosketuh, broosheteh, whatever you call it” and cover all the bases. I get the sense that pronouncing it as “broo-sket-uh” is seen as a bit pretentious in the US, but I may be wrong.

On the TV show “Silicon Valley”, Richard explained that “flaccid” is really supposed to be pronounced like “flaxid” (cf. “vaccine”).

It may have been when Wodehouse wrote that (and Fry would be a stickler for Wodehousian accuracy), but I’m not sure if that’s still true. It may very well be - issues of hired help and the terminology relating thereto are outwith my routine sphere of experience - but…it feels weird.

Good one. brushETTuh is pretty standard in the UK, but feels like it’s a bit dumbed down…though to try to more accurately replicate the Italian feels like I’m overdoing it…so I’m stuck between getting it wrong and getting it wrong.

Living abroad, I’ve picked up a lot of things like CAF-ay for the place you go to get a cup of joe, and GAR-azh for the place you take your car when it needs to be fixed (but I still say ga-RAZH for the thing where my landlord keeps his car). Mostly this comes for teaching English to foreigners using textbooks published in the UK.

I’ve also been known to say SHED-jule instead of SKED-ju-el, but I’ve never said ore-GA-no the way Jamie Oliver does, just o-REG-a-no.

I remember Basil Fawlty telling Sybil “We have to attract a better class of clee-en-TEL” instead of cli-en-TEL.

This is one that I was going to nominate, as well, though I think one can get bonus pretentiousness points by adding in a bit of a Y sound (“SHED-yule”).

Also, pronouncing “niche” as “neesh” rather than “nitch.”

And, I was once at an Italian restaurant (in Birmingham, Alabama) with a colleague who had grown up on Italian food (her grandmother was an immigrant from Italy). I was going to order the gnocchi (which I pronounced “NO-key”), and she corrected me: “No, no, it’s pronounced NYAWK-ee.” So, when the waitress came to take our order, I tried to pronounce it as my colleague had prompted me, only to have the waitress ask, “Oh, you mean the ‘NO-key’?” :smiley:

When I was growing up in Minnesota, we had “carmel apple” sales at school every fall. Always “carmel,” never “caramel.” God, how I loved those things! :o

Oh, that’s the other one! I always pronounce it correctly with a sylllable in the middle. I can’t tell you how many baristas have “corrected” my pronunciation when they repeat back my order: “oh, you mean a CARMUL latte?”

I was reading Squirrel Girl the other day, and was surprised when Iron Man said that the words “squirrel” and “girl” rhymed. Uh, they do? They don’t even have the same number of syllables.

Not just Minnesota. Carmel was the prevailing pronunciation until at least the late 70s.

Cite. (YouTube link)