The Mocktail Circuit

The Mocktail Circuit

With the French becoming amenable to English,shouldn’t India’s champagne set pronounce ‘Hermeez’ the French way?

Vacationing in Paris these past couple of weeks,it has been gratifying to note that the notoriously parochial French are now rather amenable to speaking in English to the hordes of tourists who swarm their city. Perhaps it has dawned upon them that in the midst of this economic downturn,it is wiser to speak lingua franca rather than alienate linguistically challenged but liberally spending foreigners.

Make no mistake — the infamously obnoxious Parisian waiters can still be quite snotty as their 15 per cent tip is already built into the bill and they don’t really need to please customers to earn their gratuity. But across the board in taxis,cafes,brasseries,boutiques and museums,the locals are willing to reply to a tourist’s hesitant,“Parlez vous Anglais?” with a nod and perhaps even a smile. It has been a great regret I never learnt to speak French fluently but I am always entertained by the Indian chatteratti who mispronounce everyday English words by adopting a fake French accent while nattering on the local cocktail circuit.

Here is a ready reckoner of the most mispronounced words overheard in our social circles:

EPITOME: It amazes me how many members of the beau monde brazenly enunciate this word as if it were an epic tome. It’s pronounced ‘i-pit-uh-mee’. Given that most of our glitterati are obsessed with themselves,it is all the more ironic that the ‘me’ is silent in their flagrant mispronunciation of this word.


DUPLEX: Most social snobs I encounter insist on pronouncing this word as ‘dew- play’,thinking it is a French word that rhymes with Camembert soufflé. Do they also watch films at a ‘multiplay’ or rather go to a multiplex? It’s pronounced ‘dew-plex’ and if you aspire to live in one,then at least learn to pronounce it correctly. Touché?

CHUTZPAH: Another favourite word employed with impunity by our social climbers and enunciated with the sheer audacity of the truly ignorant! It’s a Yiddish word meaning ‘unbelievable gall or insolence’ and it’s pronounced ‘hoot-spuh’ and not like some local slang.

MOET ET CHANDON: The champagne set who so like to snigger at those less fortunate do not realise the joke is on them when they go about quaffing bottles of bubbly and ask for their favourite ‘Mo-yay e Chandon’. They openly make fun of some poor waiter who proffers a glass of ‘Mo-wett’ and feel oh-so-superior with their French enunciation. Guess what dahlings — the waiter is pronouncing it correctly and you are openly flaunting your ignorance along with that oversized Birkin.

I am always amused when society arrivistes order ‘Bordox’ wine at ‘restraunz’and talk loudly about their new ‘Yatch’ and ‘Hermeez’ bags.

Do please write in with any ‘fox passes’ you might have encountered.

Till then,au revoir,mon cherries!