Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sheesh. Or Is It Shitch?

This one time I was reading a book about vampires - it could have been Dracula, but hey, I've read a lot of books about vampires, so I'm not 100% sure.

Let's face it, it probably was Dracula,
 because I've read it soooo many times.
In any event, I was reading the book, and suddenly the word "blood" went all funny on me.

Has this ever happened to you? You're reading something, and there's a certain word that recurs throughout, and you read it and repeat it in your head over and over until it stops existing as a word and just collapses into a pile of meaningless letters that no longer make sense to your brain.

...that is the question.
That happened to me with the word "blood." My brain refused to acknowledge its actual pronunciation and meaning and decided that it was simply a string of letters that rhymed with "food." I lost my entire ability to comprehend what I was reading because my eyes focused in every instance of that one word and made my brain go "blooooooood." I finally had to put the book down, because you know, if you can't make your brain understand the word "blood," there's not much point in reading a book about vampires.

Watching this over and over has almost the same effect.
Go on, try it.
That doesn't really have much to do with what I'm going to talk about next. I just thought it was interesting.

So. You know the word niche?

Look at it until it loses all meaning, mwahahaha.
Without thinking, say it out loud.

How did you pronounce it?

Did you say "nitch"?

Or did you say "neesh"?

If you said "Nietzsche," you go way back and sit down.
I'm only asking because I recently realized that I've started to say "neesh" instead of "nitch." I'm pretty sure I used to say "nitch." I'm a girl from the south side of Milwaukee, and that sounds like a very Southsider pronunciation, like saying "root" so that it rhymes with "foot." 

By the way, I've assiduously trained myself over the years to say "roooot" instead of "rut," as well as "bag" instead of "baig."

And I almost never say this.

Those were all conscious decisions I made when I moved to a part of the country where such pronunciations weren't the norm. And they happened a long time ago. I'm not sure when my brain decided to say "neesh" instead of "nitch," but I know it was only in the last few years. I don't know exactly when, and I have no idea why. 

It's entirely possible that I've become pretentious and simply decided that the more French-sounding pronunciation made me sound smarter. I have no problem admitting such a thing; I'm somewhat self-obsessed and sometimes pedantic and I want people to think I'm smart DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

The thing is, both Google and Dictionary.com give the pronunciation of the word niche as "nitch." Merriam Webster offers "neesh" or "nish" only as a secondary pronunciation. Clearly, whether I think "neesh" is the preferred way to say it means bupkus. Yet here I am, with all of my neuro-linguistic pathways convinced that the Frenchified version is the correct one.

This non-stereotypical Frenchman agrees.
I guess I just want to know if I'm crazy, if I'm the only one who says "neesh" instead of "nitch." And if so, do I need to knock it off? Clearly I've proven that I can train myself to say things differently if I think it's in my best interest to do so. I just need a reason.

So what do you think?


Or Neesh?

Or Get a life and worry about something even slightly important, you moron?

Let me know.


  1. Neesh. But only because I was a French minor in college.

  2. I am fairly sure I use both interchangeably depending on the situation and the audience....but not really sure when I would say either one. I can totally relate to teaching yourself to stop saying words certain ways...(I was rather old before I removed the unnecessary r from wash, and that sneaky booger sneaks back in sometimes). :D

  3. I'm like Becky- I interchange them depending on the conversation. I'm also the first to admit that I say a crick is a little creek, much to the chagrine of my Native Texan hubby, who doesn't understand that word. Pronounce it however you want, dear.

  4. I never knew anyone pronounced it "nitch". But then I'm thinking about how it's pronounced in English, not Americanish.

    About your brain lockout over "blood", some years ago I had one over a commonplace word in my language, "dorja" (door). I was reading something when I came across this word and it was suddenly as though I'd never seen it before and it was Medieval Martian to me. I turned it over and over in my head, and to this day I'm not fully comfortable with the word.

    Now, also, "dorja" is *written* "dorja" but in the highfalutin pseudo posh accent they use in announcements on the Calcutta Metro, it's pronounced "doroja" for some reason. I have no idea where the extra O comes from.

  5. I say "neesh", probably because that's how I've always heard it pronounced. It's not a word one often hears in the South, so maybe I just grew up around /pretentious/ interesting people. When told I don't sound like I'm from Tennessee I have to explain that my mother's from /Czechoslovakia/ Michigan.

    And I second what Simoree said. Say it however you want. As long as people get the meaning that's what matters.


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