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Old 09-25-2012, 04:18 AM
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Pronunciation of "lingerie"

How did this word come by its English pronunciation--"lonn-juh-RAY?" The French pronunciation, of course, is (approximately) "lang-zheh-REE"; I wonder why, contrary to the rule of most words accepted into English, it didn't acquire the slapdash, English-oriented pronunciation "LINN-jerry."
Old 09-25-2012, 04:35 AM
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Speculation here, but English speakers were probably extrapolating from their expectations based on other French words ending in "e", like "pate" and "fiancee".
Old 09-25-2012, 05:22 AM
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I dunno, but when I read it I mentally pronounce it "linger-ee". Then the part of my brain that assigns meanings to words comes back with a null set, so the front part runs the error subroutine and offers "lon-jer-ray" as an alternative, which the other part accepts with the definition of "bras and panties and stuff". Then I go on to the next word.

But that might just be me.
Old 09-25-2012, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Maggie the Ocelot View Post
I dunno, but when I read it I mentally pronounce it "linger-ee". Then the part of my brain that assigns meanings to words comes back with a null set, so the front part runs the error subroutine and offers "lon-jer-ray" as an alternative, which the other part accepts with the definition of "bras and panties and stuff". Then I go on to the next word.

But that might just be me.
This is what I call the "Awry" phenomenon.
Old 09-25-2012, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by dougie_monty View Post
How did this word come by its English pronunciation--"lonn-juh-RAY?" The French pronunciation, of course, is (approximately) "lang-zheh-REE"; I wonder why, contrary to the rule of most words accepted into English, it didn't acquire the slapdash, English-oriented pronunciation "LINN-jerry."
Probably the same way the word "voila" has morphed into the grating, ubiquitous and annoying "walla", as in the first syllables of "wallaby". Namely, laziness and ignorance.
Old 09-25-2012, 10:44 AM
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Undoubtedly, most people pronounce it that way because they've been taught that this is the pronunciation. I always hate when people say things like "laziness and ignorance", as if each person comes upon the word afresh, with no prior history of it, and decides upon the pronunciation themselves from their own stock of knowledge.


The question, of course, is how that became the accepted pronunciation, and I think Kimstu is on the right track, with non-French speaking Americans accepting or assuming that the French word ought to have the "-ay" ending. Americans, I note, are more willing to try to pronounce words of foreign origin as the language is pronounced. It's due, I think, to America's patchwork heritage. When your past includes French-speaking places like New Oreleans, you say it "Noo Orlins", and when it includes La Jolla" california, you pronounce it "la hoya".

The British, on the other hand, run roughshod over origins to remake the words their own, and pronounce the final "t" in "fillet", while an American would say "fillay", or call Cervantes' hero "Don Quick-soat" instead of "Donkey Hotay".


Whsat surprises me is that even the British seem to say "Lawn zherray" instead of "Linjur E"
Old 09-25-2012, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Probably the same way the word "voila" has morphed into the grating, ubiquitous and annoying "walla", as in the first syllables of "wallaby". Namely, laziness and ignorance.
In some places, maybe.
Old 09-25-2012, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
or call Cervantes' hero "Don Quick-soat" instead of "Donkey Hotay".
Not usually, in my experience, but we will pronounce "quixotic" quick-sot-ic rather than key-hot-ic.
Old 09-25-2012, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
Not usually, in my experience, but we will pronounce "quixotic" quick-sot-ic rather than key-hot-ic.
I was embarrassingly old when I found out that this was the accepted pronunciation. I had only ever read it, and in my mind had been pronouncing it key-ho-tic.
Old 09-25-2012, 01:05 PM
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Emily Post says "lingerie" is correctly pronounced "underthings"

I collect vintage etiquette books (yeah, I know) and according to Emily Post '48 and '54:

"Words which ought to be banned because they cannot be written with our alphabet include "bouillon," "bon-bon," "lingerie," and "ensemble". Much better to say "clear soup,", "candy," "underthings," and "dress with coat to match" - in Plain English, instead of murdering our own tongue as well as that of the French with "bull yon," "bonn bonn," "long ger ay," and "enn sem-bel."

"The nearest thing to "in" in lingerie is like the an in sang, a rie is a trilled ree. The nearest to "ensemble" is "ahn sahm-m-bl" - "en" very much like a groan of pain".

UT~
Old 09-26-2012, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
The question, of course, is how that became the accepted pronunciation, and I think Kimstu is on the right track, with non-French speaking Americans accepting or assuming that the French word ought to have the "-ay" ending. Americans, I note, are more willing to try to pronounce words of foreign origin as the language is pronounced. It's due, I think, to America's patchwork heritage. When your past includes French-speaking places like New Oreleans, you say it "Noo Orlins", and when it includes La Jolla" california, you pronounce it "la hoya".

The British, on the other hand, run roughshod over origins to remake the words their own, and pronounce the final "t" in "fillet", while an American would say "fillay", or call Cervantes' hero "Don Quick-soat" instead of "Donkey Hotay".


Whsat surprises me is that even the British seem to say "Lawn zherray" instead of "Linjur E"
I'm not sure it's anything to do with patchwork heritages. My take is that Americans tend to mangle French pronunciation, while Britons mangle Spanish. "Orlins" is nothing like how Orléans is pronounced in French, and I understand that other French-origin place names in teh US are often prounounced in an Anglicised way, e.g. Versailles, pronounced "ver-saylz".

It makes sense that Americans have a better grasp of Spanish pronunciation, with a significant Spanish-speaking population and a large Hispanophone country to the south. In the UK, we may not have a large Francophone population but French is by some distance the most familiar second language. It has always been the first foreign language taught in British schools. Spanish is a long way behind.

"Fillet" is not really a mispronunciation. We are aware of and sometimes use the French word "filet". "Fillet" is an English word derived from it. As for "Don Quick-sut", that pronunciation is more of a theatrical thing. "Don kee-hotay" is more common here.
Old 09-26-2012, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by nomdenet View Post
"Fillet" is not really a mispronunciation. We are aware of and sometimes use the French word "filet". "Fillet" is an English word derived from it. As for "Don Quick-sut", that pronunciation is more of a theatrical thing. "Don kee-hotay" is more common here.
As a fourteen year old I said "Don Quick-sut" in class and got mocked by everyone, so it can't be that unknown in the UK.

I second the notion that those in the US do Spanish well and mangle French whilst we Brits do French well and mangle Spanish.

For every Jaguar there is a Notre Dame and vice versa.
Old 09-26-2012, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
The British, on the other hand, run roughshod over origins to remake the words their own, and pronounce the final "t" in "fillet", while an American would say "fillay"
Do Americans really say "fillay steak" or "chicken fillays"? British people pronounce "filet mignon" (one l) in the French way, but "a fillet of chicken" or a "fillet steak" (two ls) or whatever as an English word. When you fillet a fish, do you "fillay" it?

I don't think Brits are any worse at mangling French words than Americans. We don't talk about "chaise lounges", or call main courses "entrées", for instance...

Last edited by Colophon; 09-26-2012 at 08:22 PM.
Old 09-26-2012, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Maggie the Ocelot View Post
I dunno, but when I read it I mentally pronounce it "linger-ee". Then the part of my brain that assigns meanings to words comes back with a null set, so the front part runs the error subroutine and offers "lon-jer-ray" as an alternative, which the other part accepts with the definition of "bras and panties and stuff". Then I go on to the next word.

But that might just be me.
Your profession is in the field of, wait don't tell me.....

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 09-26-2012 at 08:29 PM.
Old 09-26-2012, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Do Americans really say "fillay steak" or "chicken fillays"? ....
They do, as i was most strongly informed on GQ.
Old 09-26-2012, 08:34 PM
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Yes. Do others pronounce it as fill-ett? Like rhymes with millet?
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