Sunday, April 12, 2015

What's That You Say?

There was a young fellow from Boise
Who at times was exceedingly noise;
So his friends' joy increased
When he moved way back east
To what people in Brooklyn call Joise.

Warning: This blog contains kvetching ("kuh-vetching"). If you want happy-happy-joy-joy don't continue any further. Better to go elsewhere.) 

When I was young I couldn't figure out who I was. For one thing nobody could pronounce my name. If mom and dad had the sense to stay in Quebec it wouldn't have been a problem. But they didn't and so I was doomed. Being of French derivation in a small Mid-western town is kind of a pain in the butt. It's not like there isn't any French influence there. After all, the capital of Iowa, for example, is Des Moines which means "of the monks" in French. Of course, no one in Iowa pronounces it right. They say "Duh Moyn".  We're even known to joke and call it "Dez-Mow-Nez".

It was bad enough that my last name was unpronounceable to the good people of the plains but Mom had to give me a first name that was impossible as well. It was invariably butchered by everyone who tried it. Even my own parents chickened out and let our name be butchered. My last name "Benoit" became "Buh-nore" or Buh-noor" or "Buh-Noise".  I guess they were trying to wrap their tongues around what they thought was a French pronunciation. More often than not it was just plain "Buh-Noit". The reason my mom gave for this amazing lack of forethought was: "I wanted to give you an appreciation for things French". That's exactly the way she said it. "Things French." Why, she couldn't even use the correct syntax. So she called me "Renee" and this became "Irene" or "Reenie".

I wasn't the only victim.

Here are some other examples of the proverbial fingernail on the black board:
Prairee doo Sheen (Prairie du Chien, WI)
Nuh-Vay-Duh (Nevada, IA)
Pee-Roo (Peru, IN)
DEE-Troyt (Detroit, MI)
KAY-ro (Cairo, IL)
Ver-SALES (Versailles, KY)
Brett FARVE (Brett Favre; I had to throw him in even though he's not a town. He's just another unfortunate person like myself.)
Del-High (Delhi, IA)
Try-Po-La (Tripoli, IA)
MAD-Dread (New Madrid, IA)

Anyway, I left and finally got some sense of who I am so it's all OK now. I pronounce my name the French way. I'm exercising cultural integrity. Some people think I'm being affected or snobbish or whatever. They can think whatever they want. It's about them. It's not about me.  Just so everyone knows that the supposed high and mighty get come-uppance, the way my name is pronounced in French is the name of a Japanese dildo. Ben-wah balls. That's so you know I bear my name with equal pride and shame. I can't be snobbish knowing what I know. Anyway, in California no one cares. It's only the Hispanics who are being phonetically tortured here now.

Too-Larry (Tulare, CA)
Tibber-Ron (Tiburon, CA)
San Ruh-Fell (San Rafael, CA)
Puh-No-Key (Panoche, CA)
Kally-Entee (Caliente, CA)

Hey, if I'm wrong, correct me!

1 comment:

  1. Hej, if your name is Benwah ;) , it is and you have to use it like that..... Doesn't matter what some redneck yahoo or yank makes of it. It is not your fault they were not overly burdened with a decent education.
    Your Japanese balls almost made me shower my screen with coffee.....