Say what?

You gotta love Paula Deen. She’s a word nymph’s dream, blessherheart.

As a celebrity chef, she’s not my favorite. She lays it on a little thick for my taste—everything from the abundance of saturated fat to the exaggerated drawl. (Please let it be known I appreciate the difference between an accent and a drawl.)

I try to love her, really I do. Largely, it’s that I have trouble getting past her mispronunciations and speech gaffes.

For the record, “vinaigrette” has three syllables. It’s vin-ai-grette. Not vin-e-gar-ette. She’s not alone; restaurant servers aplenty mispronounce the salad dressing. Actually, Paula stretches it to five syllables, splitting the last one in two, like a generous slice of her pink lemonade cake.

But another goof in the same episode as vinaigrette got me thinking of another common mistake that we haven’t talked about here. She said she greases the pan to “assure it doesn’t stick.”

Shall we go over “assure” versus “ensure” versus “insure?” It must be confusing to some, so let’s give it a shot. Those who already know this can skip ahead to today’s assignment.*

Insure: to guarantee against loss or harm. The diamond is insured against theft. Think “insurance.”

Ensure: to make sure. I will grease the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick. Think: I drink Ensure to ensure I get enough nutrients.

Assure:  to inform [someone] positively. “Assure” almost always, if not always, precedes an object. I assure you, it will not happen again. The doctor assured him the drug was safe. Think: Rest assured. (you, implied, are the object)

Pretty simple.

*What, besides vinaigrette, do you find to be the most common food mispronunciations? In the meantime, here’s one person’s take. Note another Paula citation, for stretching “paprika” to four syllables. Good, I’m not the only one who counts.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Movies, Television and Radio

7 responses to “Say what?

  1. In Philadelphia, they say prentzels in stead of pretzels. It drives me crazy.

  2. Amber

    It’s quite entertaining to teach phonics in the south. All of the children have southern syllables.

  3. jessica rozier bauguess

    I know this isn’t exactly a food mispronunciation, but it’s one that drives me CRAZY. In north western NC, people (a lot of them my very smart classmates) say li-berry instead of LIBRARY. I want to smack them in the back of the head every time I hear it.

  4. Carmen

    I’m with you on “pundints.”

    I will never, ever again mix this up! Please let me assure you. Thank you for correcting my brochure – a copy is on its way.

  5. Carmen

    I’m with you on “pundints.”

    I assure you that I will never again mix this up. Thank you for your edits. A copy of the finished brochure is on its way.

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