I have a talent for making born-and-bred Canadians laugh at me, especially when it comes to my accent and pronunciation. I mean, it’s obviously just ridiculous to assume that French-looking names would be pronounced according to French pronunciation norms in a country where French is an official language!
This all started on my first visit to Vancouver Island, when I pronounced Esquimault, home of the Canadian Navy’s Pacific fleet, as Eskimo. WRONG! It’s Esk-WHY-molt.
There have been other examples over the years, with the most recent being new Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis.
Which is apparently pronounced HAM-hoys*, not am-HWEE.
Now, in the Geordie dialect of the northeast of England, where I’m originally from, hoy means throw**. So when I hear “Ham-hoys”, I imagine a Geordie sport that entails throwing pork joints as far as you can – similar to the Scottish caber toss.
But with ham.
This is gonna make next season’s match commentary much more interesting.
*So I’m guessing his family isn’t of French origin after all, then. It was the -uis that threw me!
**Apparently it’s the same in Chinese! My Dad used to play on a football team in Manchester (which is not in Geordieland) that once tried out a goalie who’d recently immigrated from China. The goalie’s kicks forward to his teammates were rather erratic, so they asked him to throw the ball to them instead – but he didn’t understand. Everyone got really frustrated until my Dad shouted “just hoy it, man!” None of the other English players understood what he meant, but the goalie said “hoy? Oh, hoy!” and threw the ball straight to my Dad’s feet.