I recently discovered that there are a couple of brands I’ve been pronouncing wrong.
There’s the age-old debate on the pronunciation of ‘Moët’ from the champagne house, ‘Moët et Chandon’. Some swear by mo-wett while others add some linguistic flair with some fancy mo-way. It was for this particular example that this post exists. I will clear this debate up once and for all with confirmation from several sources. You know it’s legit when you see the word ‘diaeresis*’ come up.
The funny part is this – I was searching for confirmation on the correct pronunciation of ‘Moët’ and I stumbled upon well-known global brand names that (I thought) had established pronunciations, but the generally accepted pronunciation is incorrect.
Below is a list of 5 commonly mispronounced brands, with some interesting back stories, some boring but necessary linguistics stuff and the verdict on some vintage debates.
Moët et Chandon
My rudimentary search turned up a Wikipedia search. What else is new.
The article stipulated that [moɛt e ʃɑ̃.dɔ̃] is the correct pronunciation. This confusing code can be broken into several parts.
mo: as it is, so ‘mow‘ as in ‘mow the lawn’
ɛ: ‘eh’ as in ‘best’
t: ‘t’, the short ‘t’ as in ‘hot‘
e: similar to ‘ɛ’ but more drawn out, like ‘air‘
ʃ: not quite an integral, but pronounced ‘sh’ as in ‘shoe’
ɑ̃: a little difficult to find an English equivalent, but I would say adecent stab at it would be ‘a’ as in ‘sand’
d: standard ‘d’ as in ‘dog’
ɔ̃: similar to ‘ɑ̃’ a decent attempt would be ‘on‘ as in ‘son‘
This is further underpinned in a dedicated Pronunciation segment that states that the correct pronunciation is mo-wette as it is originally a Dutch name that has retained it’s native pronunciation in French.
According to a native french speaker, the two dots (tréma) above the ë imply that the ‘t’ can’t be mute because the diaeresis* is here to change the pronunciation of the ‘e’ by demuting the final ‘t’.
Correct pronunciation: mo-wette
* – also known as a tréma or umlaut. A diaeresis indicates the two dots above a letter: ë
Hermès a.k.a Hermès of Paris a.k.a Hermès International S.A is a French high fashion house. They do leather, perfumes, accessories and generally high-end luxury stuff. It is also a commonly mispronounced brand. I’ve heard variants of her-meez, her-mez, herms and homies.
Even what is believed as the technically correct er-mez is wrong.
The correct pronunciation here is /ɛərˈmɛz/
Using the previous explanation for Moët, we can break this down.
ɛər: airrrrrr like ‘scarce’ or ‘Mary’
mɛz: mez. That part’s standard.
Correct pronunciation: air-mez
Another French high-fashion house with a commonly mispronounced brand name. These guys do haute couture clothing and accessories etc. They’re the second largest apparel division of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH)
The common mispronunciation is given-chee or given-shee, even jee-von-shee. The last one is close, but no cigar. The correct pronunciation is [ʒivɑ̃ʃi]
ʒ: This is difficult to explain. The closest English letter would be a ‘j’ but it’s pronounced more like the ‘s’ from ‘measure’.
i: ‘ee’ as in ‘bee‘
v: ‘v’. standard ‘v’ like ‘valentino’
ɑ̃: ‘aw’ but with a French nasal twist, like the one you put on when saying ‘non‘
ʃ: as illustrated previously, ‘sh’ like ‘shoe’
i: ‘ee’ as in ‘bee‘
Correct pronunciation: jee-vo-shee
Fun fact, I always thought Porsche was Italian. Turns out it’s German, which is indicated by the ‘Stuttgart’ that’s right in the middle of their logo. 🙂
The common pronunciation of Porsche is porsh. I’ve heard some say Porsha and I heard one individual say Porch. The last one is so wrong that it’s not even right, but that’s not the worst I’ve heard. I remember a friend referring to a Maserati as a Mazda.
Returning to the pronunciation, the correct way to say Porsche is [ˈpɔʁʃə]
In parts, it is:
ˈp: as in ‘p’ for ‘Porsche’.
ɔ: ‘o’ as in ‘cost’
ʁ: ‘r’ as in ‘rouge’
ʃ: as above, ‘sh’ as in ‘shoe’
ə: ‘a’ as in ‘comma‘
Correct pronunciation: por-sha
This one took me by surprise. I’ve grown up with the common mer-say-deez pronunciation and never gave it a second thought that it would pronounced differently. Some would argue that the pronunciation I’m going to illustrate below is technically a German one, and so shouldn’t be expected to be used globally. But if that’s the case, we would all be saying loo-es voo-ee-ten, instead of the French loo-ee-vwee-to(n).
The correct way to say Mercedes Benz is [mɛʁˈt͡seːdəs ˈbɛnt͡s]
mɛʁ: ‘Mer’. Pretty straightforward here.
ˈt͡se: ‘tsee’ as in the end of ‘cats‘ followed by the ‘ee’ from ‘bee‘
dəs: ‘dus’ as in ‘dust’ or ‘dusk’
bɛnt͡s: ‘bents’. Also not that tricky.
Correct pronunciation: mer-tsee-dus bents
Some of these ones, I knew already, like Moët and Givenchy, but the Mercedes pronunciation was definitely new.
Hope you all found this as informative and interesting as I did!