Thursday, October 05, 2006

What Did You Just Say?

My brother and I had a conversation last week that really cracked me up. It seems that all of his fellow teachers and he were having a conversation, and two of them (including my brother) were ridiculed. They would have made fun of me, too. What's this topic, you may ask? The all-important debate on how one should pronounce the word C-O-U-P-O-N.

Even though our family was often needing a good bargain, coupons weren't a huge deal in our house. I mean, we weren't sitting around each Sunday having a 3 hour clipping marathon like some families I know. So, this item wasn't talked about all of the time, but it was said often enough. We grew up with Mom saying coupon like (kyoo' pawn), so naturally, we pronounce it that way too. And, it was not until college that I realized that most pronounce it (koo' pawn). Not an earth-shattering difference, but I have received plenty of requests asking me to repeat what I just said so that others could have a nice chuckle at my expense. In recent years, I've discovered that a wonderful sister in church pronounces it (koo' pin), and that makes me chuckle. Guess it all comes full circle.

I wish it stopped there, but I've realized through the years - especially after friends sheepishly ask me repeat something - that there are various phrases and words that I've picked up from my family that we don't pronounce "correctly."

Some are more common and more subtle. Mirror, for instance. I say (meer) instead of the two syllable, deliberate pronunciation of (meer er.) One of my closest friends gives me grief about this often.

Some are common but not subtle at all. Wash is an example. What is intriguing about this is that the word "wash" is half of my mother's maiden name, Washburn. But that doesn't stop anyone on that side of the family from pronouncing the word (or the name, for that matter) as (warsh) or (Warsh' burn). To me, that makes it extra funny.

Some are not common and not subtle. Here's a couple that come to mind:

Chester drawers....which is chest of draws to the outside world. That probably brings the most laughs. Once again, I had no idea that I was saying this incorrectly until way into high school or college, because I can honestly say that I don't think I had ever seen that term written out until I was in my 20s.

Sundae. To most, this is pronounced (suhn' day) like the day of the week. Yet others pronounce it (suhn' dee). But, Mom has a pronunciation all her own: (suhn' duh). Thankfully, I didn't pick this one up for myself. But, no matter how much we give her trouble for it, we love her for this and all of the other ways in which she is unique. I LOVE YOU, MOM!

We have a member of our family that says Kmarket....not Kmart. I understand that mart is probably an old abbreviation for market, but I am pretty sure that Kmart has had its name for about 45 years now.

I haven't even gotten into the worst of it from members of my extended family and our circle of friends, not to mention references of stylofoam, hianal hernias, and Oldtimer's Disease or the constant inclusion of the phrases 'intensive purposes' or 'I could care less.' What about orientated, realator, nucular, supposably, irregardless, heighth, or woofs (you know, the howling dog-like animal?)

I've known better than to accept some as normal, let alone repeat them in public. But, other sayings have been engrained since birth. It's a wonder I had a fighting chance. Most would agree that keeping my mouth shut is 'probly' the best 'preventative' measure. Tell me, if I did that, would I be making a 'mute point?'


lydia said...

I've never noticed how you pronounce some of these words, but you better believe I'm going to be paying close attention from now on. ;) One of my good friends here at school consistently says 'week-and' rather than the typical 'week-end'.

strem said...

Thankfully, only the family pronunciations of coupon, chester drawers, and mirror have stuck. I've been able to fight off the rest. Warsh shows up only once in a great while....but I have made great strides on eliminating that one. And, I pause before saying chest of drawers - to concentrate on how I'm supposed to say it. So, hopefully, that won't be a problem after a short time longer of practicing. We'll see.

Chris said...

Strem - as your friend who gives you grief for the way you say mirror (by the way, on Animal Planet there is a show called Meerkat Manor, each time I hear it I think of how you say mirror), I really enjoyed this post a lot.

Though it is a mute point, I need to go to Kmarket to use my Qpins to buy a meer; hopefully they'll accept my Qpins irregardless that they're expired, I'll also check out the chester drawers too!

By the way, seriously, the chester drawers cracks me up. My Dad's mother always called it chest of drawers, the correct way, but it slurred just enough to make me think, like you, that it was chest-er drawers! :-)

When you get back and get your warshin' done, why don't we got out for a chocolate Sunduh!

Sandy-san said...

HAHAHA! This is great! This reminds me of my late-Grandma Helen. She always told us to warsh up before dinner! I use to think it was normal, but now I just think it's so cute!

Not that this has anything to do with it, but have you ever listened to a song and realized you had been singing it WRONG for years and years? There's an actual name for the syndrome, and it's called a MONDEGREEN. I won't embarrass myself by pointing out certain lyrics that were horribly butchered by me, but know that I can mess a song up pretty bad. Here's a funny site: (kiss the sky)

Nardo said...

how true, how true. Especially the chester drawers bit. That is how my family has always said it and probably always will. Except it is pronounced probly. 90% of the time the first "b" gets dropped.

Sandy-san said...

I don't know why I say this, but in stead of "Wood River" (two-words), I say the two-words quickly and say "Woodiver". I guess that means I am too lazy to break the words apart. Shame on me!

Sandy-san said...

Brother Jeff (my brother) always writes "prolly" instead of "probably"... but I guess that's how a lot of folks on the Internet writes it.

mikee said...

Aypricot (apricot)
Pellow (pillow)
Melk (milk)
Ellinois (Illinois)
Ayggs (eggs)
Ax (ask)
Breakfrast (breakfast)

And, for the record, I'm a KYOO-PAWN guy!

Dani said...

This is great, my grandmother, who is originally from Illinois talks this way, and we make so much fun of her. However, I'm sure that one of these days you are going to have a field day with my Southern way of saying things.

Piano Man said...

I think that all pronounciations (a common word in West Central Illinois) of the word coupon have some redeeming value.

mikee said...

True...the various pronunciations may have some redeeming value. But I'd prefer that people who say KOO-PON would just cut it out.

Siren said...

It's not just your family, so don't feel bad! It's all about where we're from : D
Sonja (Mrs. Roudebush) calls it "talkin' Central Illinois" and we always have a laugh when I'm back home because I've got a garbled half-Chicago half-Central Il accent thing happening and sometimes the stuff I say comes out sounding pretty goofy.

When my mom was visiting a few weeks ago - she helped me and my best friend can tomatoes for the first time, which was hilarious in itself - we lost count of how many times she said "warsh." She couldn't figure out why we kept laughing.

My husband and I routinely argue about "supposably." And it's TOTALLY 'kyu-pon'!!