July 25, 2003
Pronouncing Indian dishes

Lunched at an Indian restaurant with a work-colleague not too far from my office in Hammersmith yesterday. About halfway through our lunch - a couple of older-looking English gentlemen came into the restaurant and were seated at the table next to ours. I could hear what they were ordering - and I was amazed at the sheer QUANTITY of dishes they were going to have! Anyway - something else made me smile - and I initially created this posting for the entertainment of my Asian/Indian readers - but I’m sure everyone will have a laugh at it. If you are Indian/Asian; have you ever cringed at the way in which “Westerners” pronounce “curry” dishes when ordering at the Indian restaurant? Have you ever pronounced the names of the dishes in a “Western” fashion to spare yourself the embarrassment when ordering dishes with your “Western” friends? If you are non-Asian: have you ever wondered if the Indian/Asian waiters who take your order are privately chuckling under their breaths at your feeble attempt to pronounce the names of the dishes on the menu?

Click on the menu items on the left to see what I mean. Make sure you have turned up the volume - and also try “rapid-clicking” on different items in quick succession in order to create some interesting yet entertaining restaurant-ordering effects! Enjoy.

Allu Gowbie

UPDATE: Due to popular demand (one person asking) the “menu” above has been updated so that when you click on the green “O” icon just to the left of the names of the dishes - you will hear the slightly more authentic pronunciations. OK - I admit that for some of them there’s not a lot in it - perhaps the way in with the letters A and O are said: A’s sounding more like the first part of “Arkansas” - O’s sounding less like the O in “row” but more like the the last part of the word “Arkansas” (i.e. a bit like the o in “whore”). Also - a bit more “rrrr” in the Rs (like A Spanish/Mexican flamenco dancer might proclaim “Ariba!”), less “puh!” in the P’s, more “th” instead of “tuh!”in the T’s.

Posted by jag at July 25, 2003 11:38 PM

bohemian curry springs to mind .…

Posted by: zed on July 26, 2003 07:01 PM

Oh - you mean that “curry” version of Bohemain Rhapsody - oh that was seriously grotesque! It was funny - but SERIOUSLY grotesque! I tried looking for a link to it on your archive - but you seem not to have an archive. Hey ho - I found something similar at: http://www.daviedamnation.zetnet.co.uk/loopy/

Posted by: Jag on July 26, 2003 08:44 PM

hmm, is that then the correct or westernised way of pronouncing? ‘cause it all seems so… shoot - can’t think of the word - like it’s spelt, you know?

It always made me laugh, living in Italy. The British tourists were so embarrassing, how they mangled the pronounciation - making all the words sound like English words - but the Americans were even worse as they attempted to over-emphasise the “accent” if you know what I mean.

Tsk. I’m having a helluva time explaining myself today. I know what I mean. :-)

Posted by: Lisa on July 26, 2003 11:52 PM

Lisa: Do you mean phonetic?

In answer to your question:

The spellings of the Indian dishes in the menu are “correct” - however, the pronunciation that you hear when you click on the name of the dish is the way in which “Westerners” will typically articulate them - which to most Asians is “incorrect” and intensely funny!

Brits and Americans in Italy: same effect!

Posted by: Jag on July 27, 2003 11:44 AM

yes, that’s it - phonetic. So, can we have a version of the correct pronounciation then? :-)

Posted by: Lisa on July 27, 2003 11:59 AM

I knew you were going to ask that! What this space …

Posted by: Jag on July 27, 2003 12:14 PM

Please! ‘Cause now I’m going to be too embarrassed to order.

Of course, armed with the correct pronounciation, I’ll sound like the annoying Americans in Italy. I guess, I’ll just have to smile and point. :-)

Posted by: Lisa on July 27, 2003 12:36 PM

OK - try the menu now - read the UPDATE at the bottom of the posting for explanations/tips.

Posted by: Jag on July 27, 2003 03:34 PM

Aren’t you quick! Is that you speaking then?

I do think I’ll stick with the pointing though. I’d be worried someone would think I was taking the mickey (or being pretentious, perhaps) if I tried to pronounce it properly.

(Oh, your bold is way too subtle. I’ve mispelled pronunciation three full times now and have only just realised it! Ah well - never claimed I was any sort of intellect.)

Posted by: Lisa on July 27, 2003 04:28 PM

BIG EGO ON: I am a Flash expert. I like to think I’m the fastest amateur Flash developer in North West London.

Yes - it’s my voice. (Awful isn’t it?) the other voice is Ms.79.

Well next time - why don’t you point and ask waiter to recite for you - then you can rehearse/practise with him/her - that way you a) don’t get people takin’ the mic - and b) you won’t appear to be pretentious! There’s always a way …

Did I spell pronunciation right? I thought I spelt it wrong at first. Accidental intellect?

Posted by: Jag on July 27, 2003 05:09 PM

Are you (a Flash expert)? Oh, goodie. I’m a terrible clueless newbie. I may call on your generous nature someday with a stupid newbie question!

Yes, your spelling is correct. I usually google-bar words I think look wrong when I don’t have a spell-checker, but I didn’t even notice that one. Maybe it’s having a school-teacher as a wife that learned you to spell so good. ;-)

Posted by: Lisa on July 27, 2003 05:25 PM

Flash expert: yes - well, sort of. I’m very comfortable with it - can knock up simple animations very quickly - but more complicated one susually involve pinching someone else’s “actionscripts” or frameworks - and adapting/modifying. Feel free to ask newbie-type Qs (jag@o2.co.uk) - will be happy to try answer.

Here is some of my Flash portfolio:

(Dancing girl heavily adapted from someone else’s morphology - raw punky music to complement the “Raw Text” articles on my Views from Broadway pages)

(Promoting last-year’s “alternative” office Christmas dinner)

(The Police spoof - taking the mickey out of my senior management team at work.)

(Seventies picture/music montage that will presumably only be enjoyed by people old-enough to remember)

(A device for generating annoying electronic sounds to take revenge on teenagers who sit next to me on the bus - more of a stress-reliever than a weapon.)

My nightmare journey home - 9 hours of transport hell - gloriously animated on a tube-map of London.

Plus loads more - including the strange bubbly animation in the bottom of my left-hand sidebar.

Posted by: Jag on July 27, 2003 05:50 PM

very very innovative! i particularly found the pronunciation of gulab jamun funny! galab jamun really sounded funny! hehehehehehehehhee

Posted by: Shobha on July 27, 2003 06:31 PM

Does Nan Bread not mean bread bread? Just, having been to India a few times and noticed that you only ever see Nan on the menu and never ‘Naan bread’ as we do in England, i asked the question and think i’m right in saying that Nan means bread?!

Posted by: Julia on December 2, 2003 12:52 AM

Hi Julia - you’re sort of right: Nan is the name of the thing - but nan doesn’t MEAN bread - it IS a kind of bread. So nan bread doesn’t mean “bread bread” - in India it’s just nan - because everyone knows what it is (i.e. a type of bread - also when I’m at home me and my family refer to it as just nan) but in UK-based Indian restuarants - the “bread” qualifier is used to help remind people that it is a type of bread. Some restuarants over here do, however, refer to it has just nan - preferring to pre-qualify it with something - e.g. plain nan, or keema nan - or peshwari nan etc. etc. - but nan doesn’t MEAN bread. Hope that helps!

Posted by: Jag on December 2, 2003 09:01 AM

what da fuck was dat. anyways da girls voice was hotttttttttttttt.…

Posted by: weerjijamata on May 4, 2004 12:06 AM
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