Do you know how to pronounce “piquant”? All my life I thought it was like pie-kwent. I just recently found out it’s really “pee-kant”. Who knew?

Speaking of which, there are a bunch of words I don’t know how to pronounce because I hear people say it differently. A sampling:

  • “scenario”. Is it se-nair-io or se-nahr-io? People say both. I say the first.

  • “Chianti”. Is it key-ante or key-ahnte? I think it’s the first but the famous scene in Silence of the Lambs confuses me. He says it like the first, but almost like he’s ridiculing a Southern accent so I’m not sure if he’s serious. I’ve been confused ever since.

  • “Nguyen”. Is it new-yen or win or what? There were tons of Ngs, Ngos, and Nguyens at my junior high and I always learned it the first way but all the sportscasters say Dat Nguyen like win. I’m assuming they’re idiots, but not sure. SN. There was once this Korean short track skater named Lee Joon Ho and the American sportscaster kept pronouncing it lee-yon-ho. Yon ho??? Why make a special effort to pronounce it wrong? Why? Don’t even get me started on Hyundai.

  • “Beijing”. Jieun always gets mad at me because I pronounce it bay-zhing. zh instead of j on the ing. Kind of goes against my thing above but still, isn’t that how most Americans say it? I dunno.

  • “Hakeem Olajuwon”. I’ve never quite figured out whether he added the H to be silent, or if you’re supposed to pronounce it. Most people say it so fast I could never figure it out.

  • “Antawn Jamison”. Is it an-ton or an-twon? I swear I’ve heard it both ways.

  • “Porsche”. Is it “porsh” or “por-sha”? I heard this radio ad say it the second way but I think most people I know say it the first way. I dunno, I say “porsh 911” not “por-sha 911” but I guess that’s wrong. Just sounds odd.

  • “Jaguar”. I’m not really serious about this. Everyone says it like “jag-war”. Except the radio ads in which this guy with a snooty English accent says it “jag-oo-er”. It could not sound more pretentious. Seriously, if anyone said that in real life I would immediately give them a wedgie. It’s the only correct response.

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