10 January 2013

Pretentious Pronunciation

When I was in the U.S. last fall, I was at a party to which I brought two Swiss chocolate bars. Everyone there was American. After dinner I put the two bars on the table, and someone asked what the difference was between them. Both were Lindt dark chocolate, but one bar’s silver wrapper was printed with the large swirly word, Crémant. I said that both chocolates tasted very similar but the crément, with its soft filling, was subtly creamier. I pronounced the word crément in French to the best of my ability.

One of my neighbors suggested that my wet, gutteral pronounciation was -- to use his word -- prétensieuse.

I found his comment remarkable for three reasons: 
1) he used the correct gender of the adjective, 
2) his pronounciation wasn’t too terrible
3) he would think it’s pretentious to pronounce a word correctly in its language.

A few months before then, I was at a party in Zürich where, among 10 or 12 of us, (Swiss, Brit, American, French, Japanese), the common language was English (whew!), but there were also passing conversations in Swiss-German, French and Japanese. Nobody thought a thing of it.


  1. The person who said that was... JEALOUS!

  2. Ha! Said the same thing, Allan...
    Oh well!

  3. It's just about the culture of the people you associate with. :D