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About “Hors D’Oeuvres”


Dear John: My problem is that I speak French, so I know that pronouncing “hors
d’oeuvres” à la française would be ridiculous in
English conversation. If you think that “hors d’oeuvres” is pronounced,
in French, “or derv,” as you wrote, you are mistaken. I’m afraid
that I can’t write out how to pronounce the phrase in proper French. In speaking
English, I say “or-’dervs.” I also say — for “maître
d’” — “mayter dee.” Etc. This is a big topic about which
I’ll write more later. When you know the language in question, a halfway
attempt seems especially absurd. That’s why the Dutch friend I wrote about
in “‘
Gutter’ Politics
was so amused by his art-history teacher’s
mangling of “van Gogh.” The teacher wanted to say “Gogh” the
Dutch way, instead of “Go,” which is accepted in our language. But he
left the “van” in normal English. In for a penny, in for a pound, as
they say in Birmingham (not Alabama). (P.S. Groucho would ask, Why is it easier
to get the ivory from the elephant in Alabama? Answer: Because there the tusk
are loosa.)


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