|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-toLet's call the whole thing off.
You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to
—Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers in the film Shall We Dance, The Trope Namer
When one character has his own weird pronunciation for a certain word, and everybody can't help commenting. This can be used to contrast a hick and a posh person.
- In The Pink Panther, Inspector Jacques Clouseau would like to buy a "damburger" and would also like to rent a "rhume" for the night and pick up a "massage" at the front desk of a hotel. It's worth noting that he didn't do this in the original film; they were one of many embellishments of his character for the sequels.
- In Hot Rod, Rod tells his crew that his safety word is "huwisky". His stepbrother wants to know why he's pronouncing "whiskey" so weirdly, which leads to Rod pronouncing a string of words starting with 'wh' (and one that just starts with 'w') in the same way until his stepbrother gives up.
- According to the director's commentary, this was inspired by a skit on Gang Starr's album Moment of Truth.
- Rain Man is, of course, based on a child's pronunciation of "Raymond".
- In The Hangover, the future brother-in-law pronounces "ree-tard" as "re-taard".
- Megamind upon being corrected in his pronunciation responds "potato tomato, potato tomato" without changing the pronunciation at all.
- His unique pronunciation of "Metro City" (i.e. as if it's all one word that rhymes with "atrocity") serves as a Something Only They Would Say when he's trying to disguise himself as Metro Man.
- Often used by Anne Robinson when a contestant from Northern England shows up on The Weakest Link (unless that contestant is from her home city, Liverpool).
- In one episode of Wheel of Fortune, host Pat Sajak pointed out that then-announcer Charlie O'Donnel says "ca-RIB-be-an" while Pat says "CARE-uh-be-an". He then added that he says "Wheel of Fortune" while Charlie says, quote, "Wheeeeeeeeeeel of Fortune" (the way that Charlie used to announce the intro).
- The peculiarly "posh" pronunciation of words used by the Arts Curator in Discworld's Thud! draws a lot of comment from Nobby and Colon particularly, complete with its own lampshade and characteristic merciless mocking. Leads to plenty of exchanges like this:
Sir Reynold Stitched: We've had a burglareah, officer!
Nobby: A burglar rear?
Fred Colon was impressed. You could barely understand the man, he was that posh.
- It is very possible Terry was basing the character of Sir Reynold Stitched on real-life TV and heavy-newspaper arts pundit Sir Brian Sewell, who really does talk like that. Just Google on his TV appearances on heavy arty programmes like the South Bank Show and all will be made manifest.
- In one of the James Bond novels, it's mentioned that Bond's landlady has a problem with the m-n pairing as well, referring to something as "crinimal".
- Common in the Winnie the Pooh stories, being based on the playacting of a little boy. Notable examples include Woozles (weasels), Heffelumps (elephants), Jagulars (jaguars), Tigger (tiger) and Winnie the Pooh himself (based on Winnipeg, a bear at the London Zoo).
- Once on The King of Queens, Doug gets in an argument with Arthur when Arthur asks for the "catsup" (which is an acceptable variation of "ketchup", just not to Doug). Of course, Doug is one to talk, considering the way he talks: "Sanitasheeown." "I'm the 'onioniown' guy!"
- In one episode of Thirty Rock, Liz pronounces camera as "cahmerah", and is unsure whether she's saying it weirdly or not. Also: "This is always hard to say: You have die-AB-uh-dees?"
- Mystery Science Theater 3000. They love to deliberately mispronounce names. For instance, Tom Servo said: "Chiy Chiy Rodreh-gweez".
- A Still Game sketch featured the "actor" Ronald Villiers auditioning for The Matrix. He repeatedly pronounces it "Mah-trix".
- William Shatner's...pronunciation...oftheword...sabotage.
- On The IT Crowd, Jen pronounces "computer" with the emphasis on the first syllable (rather than as more commonly on the second syllable). This serves to highlight her lack of expertise and interest in the area.
- Ted on How I Met Your Mother has his own pretentious way of pronouncing several words. But his pronunciation of "encyclopedia" warranted comment from other characters. "En-cyc-lo-PAY-dia" because of the ae.
- As well as chameleon.
- The Community episode "Physical Education" focused on Britta's pronunciation of the word "bagel" as "baggel".
- Friends: in the What If episode, Ross insists on calling karate "kaah-raah-Tay" instead of the U.S.-normal "kuh-rah-dee." There's also Chandler's pronunciation of the "whipped" onomatopoeia/gesture as "Whoop-pah!" (with the rest of the cast favouring "hwu-cher!").
- Drake and Josh, anyone? Walter constantly mispronouncing "touché" and "capice" was made into a running gag.
- A Seinfeld episode involves George breaking up with his girlfriend because she's pretentious, pronouncing words such as "pap-ee-ay mache" instead of "paper mache."
- In one Hancock's Half Hour episode where Tony was planning to emigrate, he was continually mispronouncing Canada (he said it as if it rhymed with Grenada) despite everyone's attempts to correct him.
- John Candy and Eugene Levy as Yosh and Stan Schmenge do this on SCTV. Each of them pronounced their last name slightly different (which was part of the joke). Candy pronounced it "Shmen-gee", while Levy's pronunciation sounded more like "Schman-gee."
- The Star Trek peculiarity, shared by Spock and Worf, in the way words such as "honor" and "valor" are pronounced - emphasis firmly on the second syllable which is emphatically drawn out (Ho-NORRRR, va-LORRR)
- Christopher Walken hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live where he performed the Trope Namer song... unfortunately, as he was reading it off of cue cards, he simply pronounced it "po-TAY-to" each time. Jimmy Fallon tried to correct him... so he switched to "po-TAH-to" both times.
- The children of The Family Circus, most often Jeffy, pronounce some words in a nonstandard way.
- BBC radio comedy show Son of Cliche subverted this, in a sketch where the two singers perfoming "Let's call the whole thing off" go to the producer complaining the song doesn't make sense. One, an American, complains the lines are nonsense - she proves her point by singing You say tomayto and I say tomayto, using the "tomayto" pronunciation throughout. Her Engish co-singer similarly says You say poh-tay-to and I say poh-tay-to is just as silly. He frankly can't see the point of the song either...
- Comedian Ron White, in one of his bits, makes fun of a person pronouncing "coupons" as "KOO-puns".
- Alan Davies had this joke back when he did stand-up on how some people pronounced "falafel" as "fliffel".
- Cartoon characters are famous for this, commonly due to speech impediments.
- Dr. Blowhole in The Penguins of Madagascar pronounces "penguins" as "pengwuins". Kowalski theorizes that he does it just for spite.
- The planetarium manager in the South Park episode "Cheesy Poofs" has a rare disorder that doesn't allow him to pronounce the t in "planetarium", although he seems to have no problem pronouncing it elsewhere.
- In the episode where Mr. Garrison wants to scare all the "rich" people out of town, the "richers" scream when they see their neighbors in ghost sheets and say: "South Park is hainted!"
- When Al Gore shows up looking for ManBearPig, a Running Gag has him pronouncing "serious"/"seriously" as "serial".
- In South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, the Americans make fun of how Canadians pronounce "about" to sound like "a-boot."
- In one Family Guy episode, Stewie pronounces 'Cool Whip' as 'cool-huwip'. Brian tries fruitlessly to explain that it sounds weird, leading to Stewie using other w-silent-h words with the same weird pronunciation, totally unaware that he's doing it.
- It's all been 'reweened'.
- Another Family Guy moment inverted this, with Peter making fun of a Lois for saying "nuclear" instead of "nucular", adding that "the 'S' is silent". Oddly enough, this was from before George W. Bush became president.
- Marge Simpson says "foilage" instead of "foliage", as well as "nucular", "excape" and "libary."
- Homer correcting his superior officer in the Naval Reserve: "It's pronounced 'nucular'."
- On The Proud Family, Sticky pronounces "yacht" as "yatch".
- Yogi Bear says "av-a-redge" quite distinctly for "average" and "pic-a-nic" instead of "picnic".
- And while we're on the topic of Hanna-Barbera, Touche Turtle always pronounced the w in sword.
- On Rugrats, Tommy pronounces "animals" as "am-mi-nals".
- Elmyra Duff also pronounced it "aminals". On Animaniacs, Mr. Director discussed it.
Take the word 'animal'. Transpose the letters 'n' and 'm' and you get 'aminal'. That, in a nutshell, is comedy.
- The song "Me the Mouse and I'm the Duck" from House of Mouse.
- According to Sandy Plankton from Finding Nemo, a boat is called a "butt."
- Futurama: Zapp Brannigan enjoys drinking "champaggin" and eating "guacamowl". Bender does the same mistake with "guacamole" when showing off his "flawless" Spanish accent.
- And on "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid", Fry confronts the Giant Brain in the "libary".
- Bugs Bunny is fond of odd pronunciations. "Maroon" for "moron" is perhaps the best known. Part of it is his accent, but much of it seems to be affectation.
- Norbit from Angry Beavers likes to draw out syllables, saying "mee-oo-vee" for "movie" to name one example.
- In Achewood, there's Teodor's pronunciation of helicopter.
- One strip of Its Walky features the eponym cracking up because of how a British character pronounces his name.
- This is Coach Z's schtick in Homestar Runner:
"You say tomater, I zader matermorts."
- Fat Friend from the Dr. Tran series says "hev" for have, "melk" for milk, and "pellow" for pillow.
- From Julian Smith: "Give the man a glass of malk!"
- Accent Tropes
- Children often pronounce words differently, such as "malk" for milk, "shigger" for sugar and "pasgeti" for spaghetti
- Many Americans pronounce it "nucular" instead of "nuclear". This instability is frighteningly close to standard American, in fact.
- Check: idiolects.
- An Australian in New Zealand or a New Zealander in Australia would often be asked to say "fish and chips". This is due to the difference in the short "i" sound between the two accents. "fish and chips" allegedly sounds like "fush and chups" with a New Zealand accent and "feesh and cheeps" with an Australian one.