…FISHING FOR INPUT…

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Photo of a salmon BLT sandwich
However you pronounce it, a salmon BLT ain’t bad.

So, the wife and I were having dinner with another couple tonight, and our pleasant young waitress told us that something called “sal-mon” was good. I took her at her word, and feasted on my first salmon BLT.

But…”Sal-mon?” With a distinct “L”?

Ain’t the first time I’ve heard that. Where I grew up, it was always pronounced “sammon,” with the “L” silent, and I still say it that way. At the restaurant or market, they always know what I’m talking about and so far, I haven’t been given the wrong fish yet after asking for “sammon.”

We see mispronunciations in the gun world all the time. The M-1 Garand rifle was always pronounced “Guh-RAND” when I was growing up, but those who knew the M-1’s inventor say he pronounced his own name “GA-rand.” It’s generally accepted, on the other hand, that the popular German brand Heckler & Koch is properly said “Coke” for the latter name, not “Kotch.”The Italian Carcano military rifle is usually pronounce “Car-CAN-oh” in this country, but some experts insist that it should be “CAR-can-oh.”

Many of us own lever action carbines. Is it “LEE-ver” or “LEH-ver?” “Car-BEEN” or “car-BYNE?” Or maybe “CAR-been” or “CAR-byne?”

And I won’t even get into the various pronunciations of Latin words and phrases in various American environments.

I’m curious: tell me how you pronounce the words mentioned above, and feel free to share other conflicting pronunciations.

In my house, the word the Evil Princess of Podcasts, Pixels, and Polymer Pistols argues with me about the most is “niche.” Perhaps it’s because I grew up in New Hampshire which has a large Franco-American population, but I have always pronounced it “neesh.” However, my lovely bride, who was born in Chicago until I kidnapped rescued her, insist that it is properly spoken as “nitch.”

With us, it sounds like this:

Me: “Neesh.”

Her: “Nitch.”

Me: “Neesh.”

Her: “Nitch!”

Me: Beesh…(Uttered softly, so she won’t hear me, and hurt me…)

75 COMMENTS

  1. “LEH-ver” action “Car-BEEN”.
    I listen to Michael Bane’s podcast and smile when he talks about a “hoster” for a pistol.

  2. I think it was Ernie Pyle who had a good story about why U.S. Soldiers said I-Ti for Italians. Supposedly someone misheard Italian as battalion and unleashed an artillery barrage on one unfortunate man walking down the road. Working in forestry, I often say forked; as in “That tree is no good because it is forked (forkt)” . If I say forked before tree, I tend to pronounce it “for-ked”. I think it is from watching too many westerns when I was a kid. Nobody has ever told me that it’s wrong, so I guess I will keep doing it. Up until forestry school I pronounced acorn with the O. All the professors at Mizzou said A-kern, and that is how I say it now.

    • Had a great stop in Greece on a cruise.
      The young lady tour guide pronounced almost all of the -eds.
      Twelve years on, I still run around accenting -eds: “belch-ed is Greek for burp”, etc. My wife isn’t tired of it at all, yet. 🙂

  3. Since the area I grew up in pronounced “wash” as “worsh”, I’ve got a few. I haven’t heard it in decades, but there are/were those who say they own Smith and “Westons”. I once challenged one to show me the “t” in the roll mark.

    Just noticed the post on the Tidewater area of Virginia. When I was there in the late 80’s, the big city spelled Norfolk was pronounced as “No rude term for intercourse”. The use of “poke” for a paper bag was also common. Leading to some major confusion is some cases.

    A Canadian informed me that Newfoundland is NOT “Newfindland”. (short i, not long).

  4. “NewFOUNDland” has always worked for me in Canada without contradiction. Any Canadians not from there often say “Newfie,” rather than “NewFOUNDlander.” Doubt that “Newfie” would work for the big dog, though. Maybe. Yeah, according to Wiki, John C Garand was born in Quebec and became a naturalized US citizen. Enabled the Allies to win WWII virtually for free! Man, get your deal in writing and get a down payment.
    Some people are offended by “would’ve.” They seem to be thinking “would of,” like in “I would of thought differently,” which is not visually grammatical. In writing, though, “would’ve” is common and perfectly acceptable English, thank you. Not necessarily appropriate to mentally substitute “would of” for “would’ve.”

  5. One of our students once asked my old teaching partner (and mentor) why there were so many different firearms shooting so many different cartridges. He didn’t miss a beat. “Because people of the gun prefer the road less travelled.”

    Not necessarily appropriate to mentally substitute “would of” for “would’ve.”
    Perhaps because would’ve is the contraction for “would have.”

  6. My favorite is Norfolk, (Virginia)

    The High school fight song: We don’t smoke and we don’t drink—Norfolk—Norfolk

  7. I’ve heard quite a few myself. Anymore, when I question how a name is pronounced, I head to YouTube and look for the manufacturer’s channel for assistance or simply call the business. Leupold (LOO-pold) I’ve heard pronounced as LEE–uh-pold and LOO-uh-pold, Hornady (HORN-a-dee) as HORN-a day, but the most recent winner was Lapua which I figured was LAP-yoo-uh although some pronounce it as La-POO-uh. I watched a video taken at a trade show at a Lapua booth and someone asked the guy how it was pronounced and he said it was Lop-oo-uh, with no emphasis on any of the three syllables. I come from Puyallup, Washington (Pew-AL-up) and the name is very regularly and humorously butchered by people.

    • Friend David Chute, you just helped me realize that “Leupold” is commonly a German surname. In the German it would be pronounced “LOY-polt” or maybe idiomatically “LIE-polt.” I usually have misspelled it as “Leopold”. Terrific scopes, though.
      I drove between Lilliwap and Potlatch a couple of times. Good idea to keep an eye out for big rocks on the Nisqually roadway. Could be a kind of ambush. Seriously. Visited or passed through Puyallup many times. Normally no shortage in winter of rainfall or cloud cover there, eh? The evergreen forest is great, though.

  8. Two of my pet peeves: it’s cavalry, not Calvary. Chris LeDoux pronounces it wrong in Johnson County War and I usually say it wrong with him despite my irritation lol. Also, jewelry not jewlery. These aren’t necessarily mispronunciations but flat out incorrect enunciation. You’d think I’d have better things to worry about…

    • RetDet,

      YES, on the mixup between cavalry and Calvary! Most people can’t even pronounce “nuclear.” They say NUKE-u-ler, instead of NU-clee-er. Might as well just say “atomic.”

  9. Americans always seem to say, La-fay-YET, but a Frenchman from Paris told me it’s La-FAY-yet, for the general, Lafayette.

    Wernher von Braun, in German the last name is pronounced “Brown.”

    I’m sure in Texas the city is Amarillo, but two ‘L’s together in Spanish sounds like a ‘Y’. Amariyo.

    Oh well, English is one crazy language, but they tell me it is crazy because it borrows so much from other languages. Most languages do not have spelling bees, because no one would lose.

  10. SaLmon with the ‘L’ is both Hebrew and Arab. See the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, verse 21. Salman Rushdie and King Salman of Saudi Arabia are Arabic names. I believe Salmon, like sammon, is a surname originally from Scotland, now found all over the British Isles. Perhaps they were fisherman, but I really don’t know why there are two pronunciations.

    A South Korean helped me understand the following. We say, “The alarm went off.” Well, the alarm is sounding, so is it off or on? It is on, but we say it went off.

    The bomb went off. Same thing. The bomb was off when it was at rest. Then it turned on and exploded.

    A TV station records a feed off the air. Actually, it records the feed through the air. If the TV station is off the air, it has stopped broadcasting.

    I wonder if we say “off” because it is like we are off to the races or something. Off to see the wizard. But that doesn’t seem to relate, because that “off” is about movement, not being active or shut down.

    People in NJ park in the driveway and drive on the Parkway.

  11. One that gets to me all the time is “Cache” – many people pronounce it ‘ka-shay’ when ‘cash’ is the proper pronunciation.

    Roger – As to ‘Amarillo’, many/most Texans pronounce it ‘Am a RIL ah’ Final ‘o’ in many Texan pronunciations is an ‘ah’

    And laziness in language is also annoying – as in “lemme axe you a question”

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