Spanish or "American" pronunciation in restaurants?

My personal rule is as follows

real Mexican resturant(waitstaff does not speak english)-Spanish pronunciation plus try to use whatever other Spanish I know if applicable.

Waitstaff is Mexican but speaks English-Spanish pronunciation, use English when not ordering food.

Not so real Mexican resturant(Hacienda type places that are just a step above Taco Bell) - English.

God I hate the Hacieda

I immediately thought of the Jimmy Smits sketch on SNL, too. I speak passable Spanish - learned most of it in the restaurant business anyway, so the pronunication of food names come pretty easily to me. But I had a friend who mocked me for saying “mohv” (mauve). When I told her the word was French and that is how it is pronounced, she said, “Yeah, well, I’m not French, I’m an AMERICAN so I’ll pronounce it the AMERICAN way!” So the next time we were out at a restaurant together I told the waiter she wanted the FILL-ett MIG-non.

I really need to start using preview post.
Sorry if my misspellings hurt anybody’s eyes.

Don’t feel bad, Iggy. I DID preview mine.


Hispanic native English speaker here. Don’t work in a restaurant but anytime I here a non-Hispanic pronounce Spanish words correctly it impresses the heck out of me. I also speak German and if I’m speaking and a German word comes along(gesundheit, wunderkind etc.) the correct pronunciation just automatically kicks in. Same with other languages I’ve dabbled in.

I’m a native English speaker, and I’ve studied enough Spanish to be dangerous; if forced to converse in it, there won’t be much subtlety.

I tend to think of my approach as pronouncing foreign-language menu items “in that language, with my American accent.” In Spanish: “x” will be pronounced like “h”, “ll” like “y”, that sort of thing. What I won’t do is elaborately roll my “r” or “rr” sounds, for example - even when I manage to do it, it just sounds awkward in the middle of an English sentence. This seems to be in line with what several other folks have said.

One of my roommates in college was of Cuban descent, and had grown up in Miami speaking both English and Spanish - he spoke English with an American accent, and when I asked him he described his Spanish accent as “Caribbean.”

When conversing in English, when he had reason to say a Spanish word or name, he’d do what I described above - say it more-or-less properly, but with an American accent. He told me that, even though he (of course) could say the word with a Spanish accent, he wouldn’t because: (1) it just sounded weird; and (2) the Spanish accent tended to linger for a few words once he was back into English, giving his speaking a “straight-off-the-boat” flavor he preferred to avoid.

Yeah, I don’t know about that, either. They also have “Enchiladas Ranch” which is too awkward-sounding for me to even attempt. I’ll assume they’re just playing to the southern Ohio crowd. :slight_smile:

Actually as I’ve sort of studied this, I’ve come to the conclusion that both pronunciations must be correct. I lived in Sicily for about 3 years, and the way it was pronounced in every restaurant that I ever went into is “brooshetta” however I have many friends that lived in northern Italy, that pronounce it “broosketta”. I’m more than positive that the little Sicilian family that I bought my food from wasn’t changing the way the said it just because I was an American…so I think it’s a regional thing.

i always like to order fuh-JIE-tuz and kway-SAD-juh-luhs.

yeah, i took 3 years of spanish, but it’s funny.

i was at a french place and i kept saying buh-CHAM-uhl (and yes, i know how to pronounce ((and prepare)) bechamel) to my girlfriend, and i could hear the waiters making fun of us. they had a good laugh about it, and treated us like assholes, but i thought it was funny.

I guess I can give the waitress the benefit of the doubt and assume she was using the Sicilian pronunciation, though it still annoys the crap out of me that she was so supercilious about it. Her attitude did decrease her tip slightly. :smiley:

For the record, I was taught Italian by a Roman. Who probably didn’t think the language Sicilians speak qualifies as Italian. LOL

i learn my italian from tony soprano.

just give me some pasta fahzool and some gabbagool. madonn!

This all reminds me of a funny story. My brother studied Japanese language in high school and college, and one night my family (not a culinarily-adventurous bunch) all went out to a Japanese restaurant in Miami, FL. Josh ordered for all of us in Japanese, and the 'rents were suitably impressed.

Of course, the waiter responded with a simple, bemused “Que?”

I mostly use the American pronounciation, but it depends on the word. I usually say the ‘x’ in ‘Mexico’ but I do know how to say tortilla and quesadilla (even if I probably can’t spell them). I mostly just try not to sound like Peggy Hill.

I don’t know if it applies to bruschetta, but italians seem to differ over the pronunciations of a lot of things. Some Italians swear manicotti is “man-uh-got” while others think that if they hear that, they’re dealing with a South Philly Goomba.

Seems to me that “broo-ketta” might be more aptly spelled “bruchetta”. Although, it seems to me that “broo-shetta” should probably be spelled “bruscietta”.

Dunno where you were eating, but if you were at “Olive Garden” arguing over the way to pronounce “bruschetta”, that’s like going to Alabama and telling them it’s pronounced “you all”.

Originally posted by Trunk

Don’t get this. Olive Garden is the Taco Bell of Italian food.

I don’t think that “crack” fully came together.

I just meant that at “Olive Garden”, telling them it’s Broo-ketta is going to be completely lost on them because of how ingrained it is.

And because, some waitress there couldn’t possibly give a shit as to the “correct” way of saying it.

I’m not saying I’d do a full on Spanish accent (which I can do quite well!), but I’d definitely say “mexicanos” with the Spanish sound for the x. It’d sound weird otherwise. If I’m talking about the country, in English (“Once in Mexico, I…”) I’d pronounce it the English way, but if I’m ordering a meal and it’s got the Spanish adjective-noun order and is clearly a Spanish word, I’d pronounce it the Spanish way.

I try not to exaggerate it, but yeah, when I order enchiladas in a Mexican restaurant, I’ll pronounce it as “encheelathas”.

FTR, I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I can hold a conversation pretty well. I took it all the way through high school, and since I have family in Mexico I have spent a lot of time there.

At the (only) Mexican restaurant in Chipley, Florida (Cancun’s Mexican Grill) I always order using (my version of) the proper Spanish pronunciation, as taught to me by a Mexican friend.

Invariably, it goes like this:

Sharky: I’ll have the enchee-lah-das Mehi-cano.

Mexican Waiter: The number 42?

Sharky: Yup.

Yeah, I know the feeling. I have the same problem too. I speak Spanish with a pretty good accent, but I feel like a jackass when I use it in front of people who don’t understand it. Especially me since I speak Castillian spanish. I mean I want to say things like a Spaniard in Spanish, so its even worse if I did it in a Mexican restaurant. The answer is that there is no solution, I suppose. Just figure out which group of peers is more important to you and then you decide whether to appear pretentious or like a jackass who can’t speak spanish. Neither is good, but I’ve found now way around this.

I thought of another example of American vs Spanish accents.

In Austin, there is a street called Guadalupe.

It is pronounced “Goo-wah-da-loop” by the locals and that is what I would use when speaking in English.

When talking to my mom, I always call it “Wa-da-lu-peh”.

I think it always comes down to “when in Rome…”