I threw Jay for a loop this week when I told him my khakis were in the wash. Why would I be washing my car keys, he thought. Well, for me khakis are the sort of trousers (pants) I like to wear when I’m at leisure (and that rhymes with pleasure).
So pronunciation continues to befuddle our household, but the good news is I’ve noticed he’s not trying to correct me so much. When I pronounced something differently, he used to repeat it in ‘merican, rather like you would remodel an utterance for a child. He’s always claimed he was just doing it to check he understood me, but I’ve had my doubts. Might he secretly harbour a wish that one day I’ll learn to speak clearly?
Pronunciation has hindered transatlantic romance before and I just adore the old Gershwin song about it.
Of course some of the pronunciation differences in the song are not actually real differences, but why would anyone care? They make terrific lyrics and it’s a humdinger of a song. And isn’t it actually funnier that potatoes – potahtoes aren’t pronounced that way? So why has there always been this teensy-weensy part of me that wishes it were correct, linguistically speaking? Ah dear – how sad is that?
But no more – my pedantic qualms are over. I’ve been working on making a video about BrE and AmE pronunciation differences and in the process I’ve been discovering why Gershwin had to do it like he did. When you’re looking for patterns in the differences, stress patterns feature a lot. He couldn’t feature them – they would have thrown his song off beat. Stretching those rhymes was the way to go. Win!
So I’ll get back to work on my video and tell you all about it when it’s ready. And in the meantime, I’m wondering. We’ve spoken before about some of the misunderstandings that have arisen from vocabulary differences, but has anyone got any stories to share about confusions caused by transatlantic pronunciation differences?