The Pot Pour-ee of the English Language

Okay. So call me quirky, but… Wait, don’t. I can only handle so much name calling in one day around this crazy nerd-based environment we call an office. I don’t need it dished to me virtually, too.

Anyway, I have this strange habit when reading quietly (in my head, that is) of saying words as they’re phonetically spelled. As a result, I often have to catch myself from saying them phonetically outloud in conversation.

For instance, the French word “potpourri,” which immediately brings to mind this peach-scented mixture of wood chips and dried flowers I had in my room as a child, has become a menace to me from the reading and speaking sense. Pronounced “po-pour-ee,” I relentlessly butcher it in my mind. “Pot-Pour-ee.” And, then I struggle to not say it out loud. Much to my chagrin, I’ve been caught a few times. It’s not pretty.

But, of course, it doesn’t stop there. “Hors d’oeuvre.”  Frankly, let me be honest. I had to look this one up to spell it correctly. Also a French word, my horribly off kilter phonetic pronunciation results in “Hor de vor.” Using the same response I gave my high school history teacher way back when, as we were studying something about the Prussian Regiment and I hopelessly attempted to read a passage from the text book… “No, I’ve never taken a lesson of French in my life. Is it that obvious?”

Some might squawk at my admission of these challenges I have… “How dare ye admit to such a weakness! And, you call yourself a professional communicator! Poppycock!” But, I consider it par for the course. I’d bet money that most of you have similar stories (though, perhaps not based in the French language). And, by golly, I find it humorous and fun to talk about.

Perhaps someday I will share my personal story about the weather term “wind chill.” But, hey, even I realize the need to take my communication transparency one step at a time.

-Abigail Borron, Academic Advisor


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