Judge John Hodgman on Ordering in an Accent

Maggie writes: When ordering a Tsingtao, my husband uses what he considers the “correct” pronunciation. To me, it sounds as if he is mocking a Chinese accent. He often orders Mexican food in Spanish, which he speaks, and claims the Chinese is equivalent. I disagree.

Which accent? The dialect of the Qingdao region? The way the Europeans pronounced it when they opened the Tsingtao brewery in 1903? If your husband has answers to this Wikipedia-fueled grilling, I would acknowledge he is merely pretentious. But unless he’s fluent, winging an accent is a kind of lying. Just order as neutrally as possible or ask how something is pronounced. Be curious, not fake. My punishment: Get a Spanish-speaking friend to read their most “American” rendition of the word “Budweiser” into a voice memo and make him listen to it 1,000 times.

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