02 September, 2011
They don't speak proper anymore, innit?
Whenever someone next to me in the queue at the coffee shop says: 'Can I get a decaf latte?', I'm willing the person behind the counter to reply: 'Where do you think you are, Greenwich Village? In Central Perk, waiting for the cast of Friends to arrive?
'No, you can't get a decaf latte. It's my shop — I get the latte. You ask if you may have a latte and I will get it for you.'
All good stuff, though I have to admit that I've resorted to this particular Americanism myself occasionally and it doesn't really bother me that much. Mostly used in "Can I get a glass for that?" when some spotty teenaged bar associate assumes that everybody has succumbed to the tiresome affectation of swigging beer straight from the bottle rather than from a glass in a civilized fashion. Look, Kiddies, if I wanted to neck my beer straight out of the effin' bottle, I'd buy it in the bleedin' offie for half the price and drink it in the street, innit? Awright?
But what really gets up my nose is when the latte in "Can I get a decaf latte?" is pronounced lah-tay.
OK, it's an Italian word and you really really want to demonstrate that you know that it's a foreign word and you're relaxed with it, don't you? Well the Italian pronunciation is something more like latt-teh with a short 'a', but we'll forgive you not attempting the geminated 't' and that short 'e' sound which doesn't normally occur word-finally in English.
Try latty. That's close enough. And a sight less pretentious. Please, pretty pur-leaze. You know it makes sense.
Pedantic rant over. As Ken Dodd used to say, "Ah! That's better. I needed that!"
Off to the pub for a bottle of Lekh, er Leck, er... Oh sod it, that Polish beer in the green bottle. And can I get a glass for that? Pint glass please, I'm not going to sip it like some nancy boy with my little finger sticking out at an angle. Where do you think we are, Old Fucking Compton Street? Gordon Bennett!
Mate, that is shocking.
Mind you, is it r'search or reesearch? Is it skedule or shedule?
I dunno. But I should find out as it obviously makes some people cringe.
OTOH yanks pronouncing herbs as if they were trying to be frogs is totally unacceptable. And 'normalcy' should be a hanging offence.
I have heard fat northern blokes talking about the footy on telly and switching, when about to be served at the coffee shop counter, to their would-be American voice and then having ordered, reverting back to whether or not the bleeding ref was fookin' awful.
Friends? No friends of mine.
Trouble is, if people with non-rhotic accents start pronouncing latte as /'læt.ə/, some bright spark in the overpriced coffee industry is going to invent a coffee style called former to "restore the balance".
— Can I get two large skinny formers and a ham and cream cheese beigel?
— With or without?
— Peaked or crested?
— Twin-peaked, please.
— Filtered or non-filtered?
— What? Oh sod this. I'm going to the pub.