How do you think “Tralfamadore” is pronounced? There’s really not much of a way to find out, unless there’s some tape of Vonnegut reading from Slaughterhouse 5 I guess. I looked it up on the internet and I came quickly to the conclusion that aside from Vonnegut himself, there’s really no one who has any authority regarding the pronunciation of Tralfamadore. It’s just a bunch of people casting judgment down without any indication that they know what they’re talking about. That’s a strange thing to have happen on the internet, but apparently all sorts of people have just decided that they fancy themselves experts without having any credentials. Truly a cyber anomaly if ever there was one, right?
Is it Tral FAM a dore, or TRAL famadore or what? Now, this may seem like a finicky little point, but it’s not. It’s a big deal. Pronunciation is important and mispronunciation just fucks up everything, from your enjoyment of a piece of art to your opinion of a friend to your own self esteem. Allow me to elucidate by way of example:
Age sixteen, I, a young Brendan Kelly first meet one of my boyhood heroes “fat” Mike Burkett. My band at the time, Slapstick had just attempted to open for his band, Nofx at the fireside bowl in Chicago, but our bass drum broke during the first song (a little ditty called “The Geek” [really? sigh…] and we left the stage brokenhearted. Mike approached me and kindly bullshat with me for a while about disappointments and how they were to be expected in a crappy industry like this. After a while of what seemed to me at the time like hours of exercising all the restraint that my sixteen year old self could muster, I had to stop pretending that I was just hanging out with a peer and start to punish him a little.
My two best friends at the time, Eric and Chris and I used to listen to the last song on the Nofx album Ribbed, entitled “the Malachi Crunch” whenever we wanted to get stoked for anything. That was THE song that got our blood flowing, and at the time, it was about our favorite song in the world. For those of you who don’t know, it’s about a bully who ends up getting fucked in the ass in prison. It’s probably the only good song in the world to use the phrase “hot beef injection”.
Anyway, we loved that shit and I decided that I’d pluck up my courage and say “man, I gotta tell you, me and my friends we fucking love your band. Our favorite tune is The Malachi Crunch. You gonna play that tonight?”
Mike looked at me like I was sprouting dicks off my chin right before his eyes. I had pronounced Malachi like the name, like Children of the Corn, like MAL-uh-kye. He said “MAL uh kye? It’s pronounced (now at this point, I don’t know how to spell out phonetically the way he pronounced it, but it was pretty much exactly like how you say Siracha but with the appropriate consonants replaced) Malachi, dude.”
And I was crestfallen. I went back and told Eric and Chris that Malachi was pronounced Malachi not Malachi and they too were crestfallen. It kind of ruined the song for us, actually. I felt like a boob and well, it’s like finding out your uncle is a dog fucker or something. Well, no. Not quite. It’s like finding out your architect uncle is into Nascar. Nothing changes. He’s still an architect. He’s still your same uncle, but this thing you thought you knew…nope. You didn’t know at all. It’s unnerving. Shouldn’t be, but is.
I have certain pronunciation issues that completely dictate my opinion of those people pronouncing things thusly. Supposably is a big issue for me. So is lit-rally instead of literally. What else? I heard a girl say vivrations one time instead of vibrations and any notions I’d maybe had of fucking her vanished quicker than the mozzarella sticks at the celebrity fit club wrap party. I can’t stand when people say nucular instead of nuclear. Shit like that. The big stuff. There’s lots more of these, but I’m blanking a little bit right now. As it is, I try very hard to keep these irritating mispronunciations far from my brain, so maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time listing my least favorites.
Conversely there’s certain mispronunciations I think are awesome. The reverend Bob Levy says ‘innerduce’ instead of introduce, and I think that’s pretty righteous. Actually, lots of regional mispronunciations-as-built-into-dialect tend to be pretty awesome. Like when a girl from boston says “Haahdah” when she’s getting banged for example. Pretty great. That’s unfortunately a key part of a great dream that I never got to see come true, but hey, this isn’t about the different types of girls I wish I’d boned…sigh. This is a highbrow discussion on grammar, innit? Of course it is. Let’s get back on track, shall we?
Finally, there’s at least one word I can just barely bring myself to pronounce properly. It’s sycophant. I have traditionally mispronounced it as ‘syncophant’ which I think is so much easier to say, but a few years ago I realized to my abject horror, that I’d been mispronouncing this word for years and therefore unwittingly exposing my lack of erudition to all sorts of mofos. But man, it’s so fucking hard to say without the N in there. And I know that’s the way you’ve gotta say it, but it just feels wrong on my tongue.
Anyway, where were we? Oh, right? Tralfamadore. What’s that? You don’t know about Tralfamadore? You gotta look it up man. It’s a cool spot. They let you fuck movie stars on Tralfamadore, apparently.
Today, we hit the zoo. Watch out sheep! I’m comin for ya!