Wednesday, April 14, 2010

so it goes

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?

Good.

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!

45 comments:

myassisapipebomb said...

most people probably didn't know you were mispronouncing it. people are fucking dumb.

here's some more words people always mispronounce: libary (library), sketti (spaghetti), par ME sian cheese (parmesan), samich (sandwich), supposavly (yes, i've heard this many times, supposedly).

a high school teacher said once "yes, as you read, this man has a genital disorder." it wasn't about STD's, it was about birth defects, she meant "congenital." not mispronunciation, but still fucking retarded.

Greg said...

I never understood the word used. Not as in "used condom" but as in, "I used to do porn." When you think about it and try to write it out, it sounds all wrong.

And as far as mispronunciations, ex-specially really bugs me. There's no 'x' in there. It's es-specially. But when I read Slaughterhouse 5, I kinda just mumble something to myself when Tralfamadore comes up cause I have no idea how to say it.

nd said...

February. That is all.

Crooks said...

Does anyone not say 'sherbert' even though there is no second 'r' in sherbet? Granted, I don't go for frozen treats often (...because I might start saying things like 'frozen treats').

STACEY MCCOOL said...

I had a roommate that managed to get a b and a z into supposedly. Seriously, I couldn't recreate it if I tried.

Jack said...

Here's some words I imagine alot of you mispronounce: Aluminium, believe it or not, has 2 i's in it! Also, caramel, has 2 a's. Amazing!

Zac said...

it's tral-FAM-a-door. i swear i read vonnegut himself confirm that, though i cannot remember where.

also, spend a week correctly pronouncing it feb-ru-ary and count the strange looks you get.

and not just because you are struggling to insert february into all of your coversations.

Jorge said...

Yeah, aluminum has two i's in England, just like the addition of r's in certain words, colour, armour.

In the states it is perfectly valid to spell it aluminum and say it without the second i.

My friend once said epitome like "epi tome", like an epi pen and a tome of bookly goodness.

I still make fun of him for it 10 years later, "Man, that's the epi tome of bad pronunciation."

Donnie said...

I love hearing Willford Brimley say "die a bee tis"

dustyfloors said...

I work in an office where some people are speaking English as their second language. My head would explode if I paid too much attention to all the nonsense I hear.

Manny Los Gatos said...

Dude: Am I the only old fucker here? It's Muh-lah-chee crunch. From the Malachi brothers who tried to mess people up in a demolition derby on Happy Days. Fonzie got the best of them as he always did, and I still think Suzi Quattro is smoking (leather tuscadero). You guys have to youtube the episode. Maybe it was Pinkie Tuscadero who was also smoking, I gotta youtube it myself.

Jeff said...

First time I met Fat Mike was 7 years ago at the Punk Rock Bowling tourney in Vegas. He was also a hero of mine at the time. Anyway he and Lane from D4 were talking about how it was gonna be NOFX's 20 year anniversary that year.

First words out of my mouth were this: "Yeah your vocals have gotten MUCH better over the years!" He looked at me, "huh?". "Well your voice pretty much sucked in Liberal Animation, a little better in S&M, but its progressively gotten better don't you think?", I said. He rolled his eyes and continued on with Lane...

In hindsight its a better story than if I would've said something like "I love your band" or something boring like that.

Johno said...

I'm pretty sure you pronounced Birmingham wrong last month. But then every American band does that.
x

Sean said...

awesome Menzingers song!!

is that your new "Malachi Crunch?"

Robb said...

"because I might start saying things like 'frozen treats' " -haha

Some pronunciation poopies are just the way every kid in north america says the word until about 2nd grade or something. I'm pretty sure my entire kindergarten class said 'liberry' and 'pussketti'.
Little kids also say "es'posed" for supposed a lot.

Robb said...

stacey - your friend clearly just has a sinus infection that day

nd said...

The one and only time I met Bill Stevenson, it was right after an Only Crime set. I told him I "think it's great that punk rock veterans like you and Russ are still kickin so much ass." He didn't seem impressed at... all...

Drew said...

It's even more embarrassing when it's a word that has such cultural and historic significance, and you are trying to seriously discuss its implications, yet fail miserably in front of the whole class to pronounce it correctly, so you just quit mid-idea and no longer postulate it.

...lets just say a-parth-eid, instead of a-part-heid. ='s MAJOR FAIL!

Jon said...

One of my high school English teachers couldn't pronounce Massachusetts correctly. She always said Mass-a-two-shits. Then again, she also thought that, although Animal Farm was about two bad little piggies, it's still really cute to see the animals talk to each other, so I guess I can't be too surprised.

konkdaddy said...

So is Menzingers a hard or soft g?

Drunken Acorn said...

On So It Goes you sing louder then everyone else.

Robb said...

konkdaddy that question has haunted me far too long. will one of the zingers or one of their gfs or something please pop on here and settle that for good?

Robb said...

do THEY even know?

konkdaddy said...

I called someone @ I Heart U (Eric maybe?) and they said jers. Before that I had always said gers.

Jake Regier said...

What's your take on that tomato/potato dogshit?

Also, these disgusting women come into work and ask me to get them bisketti with eggstra meatballs, and I can hardly restrain myself.

Candice said...

i can't say bagel.

Moxie. said...

because I'm from Jersey, I say "tre'en" (not sure if that's the right way to phonetically spell that, but whatever) and everyone else on planet earth who gives a shit about NJ (read: 4 people) say tren-ton. It's how we can smell our own.

Sean said...

... that's not as embarrassing as last year in St. Augustine when I asked you to sign my silkscreen poster...

... and then followed up with a “you’re gonna have to get used to this. You’ll be doing this a lot some day!”

For The Night said...

My Wife is Japanese, she askes me all the time if a word is using an "L" or an "R". Its pretty funny most of the time. Its even worse when you learn another language. I mispronounce words all the time when speaking Japanese. So I guess when she has a hard time pronouncing "Definitely" I can't blame her.

Jake Regier said...

Definitry.

alex icon said...

This whole fucking time—I read Slaughterhouse-Five like five years ago or maybe six—I thought it was Trafalmadorians. I also had difficulty with Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I think I thought it was Slabartifarts or something. I think I have problems reading long, made-up words because I'm too lazy to really piece through them since they don't actually exist.

Bridgett said...

Go talk to some people in Wisconsin. We get shit all the time from the out of town people. It's the long A sound. Specific words: bag, magnet, t-bone, no. T-bone and no I don't know what the fuck it is we do, but the O has a weird sound to it. Ask someone in Wisconsin to say "holy cow" and you'll laugh. But it's gotta be someone from further north, I don't know about Milwaukeans. We're weird, where else in the world is a water fountain NOT called a water or drinking fountain? Nowhere: just Wisconsin, where you will find no water or drinking fountains, just bubblers.

Trib said...

the man decides to chase sheep after he leaves Ireland... or is it something you discovered while here?

kylewagoner said...

My word verification word is "pubbe" and I thought it was "pube." I come from a land just west of Virginia called...Weyst Verginya. We here pernounce a lotta words incerrectly. 'Cept for me. I'm pretty articulate...when not mumbling. I totally know where you're coming from. I kinda think that your and you're have a different sound, too, though my friend says they're purely homophones...but what does he know?!

love,
Kyle

JSIN said...

Loved the Fat Mike story.

Jake Regier said...

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6RxkA0L0OI

Todd's the former first-dude of Alaska.

Jake Regier said...

"The day that the taxman cometh on top of tax cuts expiring."

- Sarah Palin on Obama's uncontrollable ejaculations...

Karen Kitten Cupcake Sweet said...

I had an asian friend with a thick accent who couldnt say peanut... it always came out as "penis butter"
but she didnt understand why it made me giggle.

Blake said...

Everyone need to learn how to pronunsulate.

Johno said...

@Alex - Yeah, I do that. I know it's made up so I don't bother to sound it out and just kind of go "Tral-fa-la".

Also, with lyrics in books I almost always just skip them over. I'm looking at you Roald Dahl.


In other news, i've been having really weird dreams lately and last night I dreamt I was in a town (in Germany or Netherlands I imagine) called Baad Sandwich.
I looked it up and it came up with this place near Venice. It looks kind of nice...

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=baad+sandwich&ie=UTF8&hl=en&split=1&filter=0&rq=1&ev=zi&sll=45.410502,12.335587&sspn=0.003766,0.010568&radius=0.26&hq=baad+sandwich&hnear=&ll=45.410502,12.335587&spn=0.003766,0.010568&t=h&z=17

Blake said...

James and the Giant Peach was goddamned agony for me. Fuck that shit.

nancy said...

What about when people add "r"s to things:

Warsh
terlit
or my favorite for bathroom:
batchroom

Harley said...

This made my day man, seriously. I was all angry and destroying my possessions, then I smoked a joint and read this... I was like... "Fuck. I know what he's talking about" I remembered reading "Slaughterhouse 5" and getting to that part thinking "Tral-...Tralfam...Tral-How do you even fucking say that!?!?" I'm like that with pronunciation. When people mispronounce or misspell things it's particularly off-putting.

Bryce said...

http://town.hall.org/radio/HarperAudio/1376_harp_01_ITH.au

In this reading (at 4:25), Vonnegut pronounces it Tral-FAM-a-door.

Bryce said...

Oops, that was the link just to the audio, which I found on this page: http://www.openculture.com/2010/03/kurt_vonnegut_reads_from_slaughterhouse-five.html Other audio formats are available.