Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lingerie. A guest blog from The Barrister

I'm not in the habit of welcoming guest bloggers, but The Barrister, a old and esteemed English friend & blog commentator, has just emailed me with one of his occasional rants which made me chuckle. This time it's about the ugly mispronunciation of the French word 'lingerie' in English.

Although I'm not sure I agree with him - certain foreign words become bastardised over time - the English pronunciation of 'Peugeot', or even 'restaurant' Anyway, it certainly deserves a wider audience.

"I listened to the dread (Sam) Roddick on (BBC Radio Four's) Woman's Hour talking about her business Coco de Mer (a very upmarket sex shop) and was astounded by her pronunciation of a few words, but one in particular.

Have you any idea why intelligent people of apparently adequate education pronounce the word lingerie as lorn-djer-ray? I find it as unfathomable as it is offensive.

"Lingerie" is a word that one can just about invest with some panache; sophistication at a pinch. "lorn-djer-ray" is disgusting, completely shattering the delicate filigree of a sensual moment. I cannot imagine anything more likely to propel me off an artfully-lit sofa than the utterance of such a noise.

And worse, this absurd, obscene pronunciation has Absolutely No Relation To Any Language Known To Man. Where in Nature does 'lin' emerge as 'lorn'? Why twist the elegantly smooth 'zhair' to the clunking 'djer'? And 'ray' for 'rie': how on Earth does that work?

This is an absolutely artificial noise. I simply cannot understand where it can have come from and how it can have acquired its current penetration. I do know, however, that I will continue to resist it and am powerless to ignore it."