Nothing draws a smirk or an arched eyebrow in certain circles as quickly as mispronunciation of the brand name of an automobile. This faux pas is especially damning when entertaining clients in businesses related to the auto industry, but pitfalls are everywhere. Who knew that client’s passion was Formula One? As frequently noted in Get to the Point, as the well-spoken, literate attorney you are, you need to pronounce words correctly, even when those around you do not.
Perhaps the most common car mispronunciation is Porsche — that’s two syllables, not one. Pronounce this the same way as you say Portia, the name of the legal-whiz character in The Merchant of Venice. And while we’re talking sports cars, that’s Lambor-ghee-nee (hard “g” as in girl), not Lambor-genie, spelled Lamborghini.
One wonders if the people who invented some of these names were trying to stump us. How about the Volkswagen Touareg? That’s “tour-egg.” Hondas and Hyundais can be easily confused in conversation. Hyundai rhymes with Sunday, with strong emphasis on the first syllable.
Then there’s Poo-jho, Peugeot, and See-tro-en, correctly spelled Citroën. It’s the umlaut over the “e” that makes Citroën three syllables instead of two. A Renault is a Reh-no, not a ree-nalt. Ah, the French.
Is your Toyota your toy? That’s one way to remember to say Toy-ota not Tie-ota. The correct pronunciation of the Swedish Volvo is actually Vul-vo.
Even old-line American brands trick some people. Never pronounce the final letter in Chevrolet; it’s Shev-ro-lay. Pronounce the “u” in Buick as if it were an initial letter as in “united”: Byoo-ick. There may be a “ply” in plywood, but never in a Pli-muth (short “i” as in “big”) Plymouth.
And then — true story! — there was the client who thought his prior attorney was an idiot because he spelled the name of the client’s sports car as “Alpha” Romeo instead of Alfa.