Ramblings: Pronunciation “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” and “Shaddup you face”

31 May

Snapshot from My Fair Lady

Mostly people will complain or berate someone for enunciating a word incorrectly. Hell, I’m guilty! My mother struggles with many a word, but I suppose her most famous is referring to the Japanese number game Sudoku (pronounced like SUE-DOOR-KU) as Sodooko (yeah…SUE-DOO-KOE). Wrong. So obviously wrong.

Yet what about the others who tease someone for pronouncing things CORrectly!?! This is something that happens to me all the bloody time. Bloody bloody bloody. Watch your mouth, young lady…Ahhh shaddup you face! (see end of post)

OK so I have lived and worked in Italy. Big whoop, right? Well the fact of the matter is I learnt how to say the grapes like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Croatina, Cortese, Ribolla Gialla, etc all correctly. Yep, with the rolling ‘r’ and everything.

This has never been an issue when I work at the Italian joint where the majority of people who I work with are themselves Italian and appreciate the correct dictation anyway. However the tables are turned at my other work where the wines we sell are predominantly Australian…that’s a whole different story.

I am able to ignore it now, but the first time it happened evolved like so. I was simply talking to a customer and recommending some lovely Sangiovese and Nebbiolo in our Alternative Varieties section. Once the customer left, my boss and co-worker proceeded to laugh at me. I could understand where they might be coming from, thinking I was putting an accent on. The truth is, that’s how I learnt how to say it, and that is how it is said. Another time a lady came in and bragged about her upcoming holiday to Umbria. I told her she’ll have to try and become acquainted with lots of Sagrantino (said SA-GRRAN-TI-NO instead of SAG-GRAND-TEE-KNOW). Again, once she left, I was teased, with emphasis placed on the way my hands moved whilst I was talking…speaking of which, let’s look at some hearty gesticulation from the Italians!

Photographs courtesy of The Sartorialist

Gesticulation….sounds like a dirty word…moving right along…

Now, after having worked a while at the aforementioned place of mild teasing, I am aware that the situation has become markedly different. Within these last few months I have noticed my boss and co-worker (after hearing me pronounce things properly in Italian) are now themselves talking to customers and saying ‘Oh you must try this Neb-bi-oooolo, or what about this San-jo-veeee-zeee?!

“HUH??”, I thought?!

They’re getting it right?!?!

Now don’t go thinking that I’m pedantic because admittedly I make several mistakes when it comes to other languages too. Take for example….French. The only foreign languages I have ever been able to speak well are Italian and Japanese. It might surprise some people to know that they are similar in terms of pronunciation where the vowels a, e, i, o and u are said with the same accent. When you haven’t undertaken any French lessons in the past, having this format of pronunciation ingrained in your head actually makes it difficult to fathom how the hell you pronounce words in French. Tell me there is someone out there that understands where I’m coming from?!?

Basically for French I’d have to throw all my prior learning out the window. Oui oui! Although encouragingly, the fact that French sounds so seductive means that I’d still be willing to give the language a go.

The funniest pronunciation story I heard of late was when a famous Pinot Noir winemaker was hosting a dinner in Melbourne and presented his fourth tier ‘Village’ wine. For some reason, the entire crowd insisted on referring to the said wine as ‘Villarrrrge’ . Villarrrrge this, villarrrrge that. Almost as bad as Target being called Tarrrjayyyyy! It was only when the winemaker stood up and said, “Ahh yeah, it’s actually just ‘Village’…no need for the French fluff I’m afraid,” that people looked away sheepishly and pretended like they’d known that all along.

So what was the point of all that rambling? Boh! You’re more than welcome to correct me if I pronounce something incorrectly. Fer schizzle my nizzle I am fine with that and much prefer it so I don’t go around sounding like a ‘ningnong’ (technically a milder term I have adopted for the blogosphere rather than what I’d much prefer to use).

However, if I happen to say something correctly and with the appropriate accent (sacre’ bleu!)…then here is an appropriate song for you:

Aglianico – A-LI-A-NI-KO

Arneis – AR-NEIZ


Bonarda – BO-NARR-DA

Brachetto – BRA-KE-TOR

Cortese – COR-TEAR-ZE

Corvinone – KOR-VI-NOR-NAIR


Falanghina – FAR-LUN-GHEE-NA

Freisa – FRAY-ZAR

Grechetto – GRE-CARE-TOR

Grignolino – GRIN-YOUR-LEE-NOR

Malvasia – MAL-VA-ZEE-AR

Montepulciano – MON-TE-PUL-CHEE-AR-NOR

Nebbiolo – NEB-BEE-OR-LO

Nerello Mascalese – NE-REL-LOR MAS-KA-LAIR-ZE


Blah blah blah blah blahhhh

Over and out!

La Donna del Vino 🙂

One Response to “Ramblings: Pronunciation “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” and “Shaddup you face””

  1. Natalie Bortolotto June 10, 2011 at 1:37 PM #

    Loved it! Hahah very funny.. Keep kickin back on those vines and rollin those RRrrrRRrrRs!!! Thanks for giving me a great read before bed!

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