Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Are You Saying These Words Wrong?

How do you say pecan?
A.  pee-KAHN
B.  pee-CAN
C.  PEE-can
D.  pick-AHN
E.  none of the above

In my home, the correct pronunciation for this five letter word is a great source of debate.  I say "pick-AHN" and my husband says "pee-KAHN."  Both of think we are right, so the debate continues.  It usually goes like this:

     Fred:  You say "pick-AHN"? That's not how we say it in Texas.
     Me:  I was born in Texas just like you.
     Fred:  Yeah, well, you sound like a Yankee.
     Me:  I grew up in Louisiana, but that's the deep south. I would hardly consider myself a Yankee.
     Fred: When you say "pick-AHN" you sound like a Yankee to me.

Well, it turns out, my husband was on to something...the area where you live likely dictates how you pronounce the word pecan. Check out this map. Joshua Katz, a graduate student studying statistics at North Carolina State University, used data to map out food dialects.

He found that pee-KAHN is dominant nationwide, but in areas of north Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, pick-AHN reigns supreme.  PEE-can is popular on the East Coast, while people from Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula go with PEE-kahn.

Does your pronunciation of the word pecan correspond with the part of the country you live in? In our case, the map was spot on. I was raised in Louisiana by parents from north Texas, therefore, we say "pick-AHN." My husband, on the other hand, has lived his entire life in Corpus Christi, Texas, and just like most others in the region, he says "pee-KAHN."

While there is no one single correct way to say pecan, one thing is for sure, Standard American English pronunciation can be a tough nut to crack.  Good luck!

Family is like pecan pie- something sweet holding all the nuts together.