Monday, February 11, 2008


I've never developed a fondness for salmon. I think it's because I can't pronounce the frickin' word right.

When people find out that I wasn't born in the States, they always appear shocked at my lack of an accent. Or my command of the English language. Often both.

That's OK. I'm not offended.

Think of a famous Asian. Jackie Chan? Mr. Miyagi? The Japanese guy from Heroes? William Hung? (She Bang! She Bang!) The majority of those portrayed in the media have thick accents. It's only natural to think that any other Asian you'd run into in the world would as well. It's just a stereotype. I've gotten over it.

I don't have an accent because of three things:
  1. I was just a little over 7-years old when I immigrated. Children under 11-years old are able to adapt and learn a new language more easily.

  2. My family immigrated to Kansas, a very accent-neutral part of the country. I can only imagine the horror that would be my accent and dialect had we first moved to anywhere in the South. Or Boston. Or Long Island.

  3. What accent I did develop, I've worked hard to lose.

Changing, or losing, or adapting an accent isn't that difficult. Look at Madonna. She talks with a British accent now. She was born and raised in Michigan. What the hell is that about?

But there are a handful of words to which I just can never get the pronunciation correct. No matter what I do, I can't make it sound right. No amount of tongue and lip acrobatics will allow me to pronounce it correctly.

One such word is salmon.

I think it's the "L" that throws me off. I know it's supposed to be silent. Even though I know how it should sound, and I can even hear myself say it correctly in my head, it never comes out right.

For some reason, there's this disconnect between my brain and my tongue, and when I try to say "salmon" it comes out sounding nothing like it.

Seriously, I think it's the "L". It just throws my brain off. I start off well with "Sa-" but then my brain short-circuits and it's anybody's guess how I will finish off that sound. I've practiced saying it to myself thousands of times. No improvement whatsoever. It drives me absolutely batshit crazy that I can't say the word right.

So, I've stopped saying it. If I'm trying to describe a salmon colored item, I'll just say it's pink. Or peachy-pink. Somebody will then offer, "salmon colored?" and I'll say "yes."

If I see it on the menu, I'll likely not order it because it drives me crazy that I can't say it right. I think this mental avoidance of the word has also convinced my tongue that it doesn't taste good.

But honestly, I don't think salmon tastes good at all. It definitely has a strong overpowering flavor, especially when compared to other yummy fish like sea bass, or mahi mahi, or tilapia, or even the lowly catfish. I don't care how much life-saving omega-3 fatty acids might be tucked away in its flesh, I'm not ordering salmon.

If I really want it, I might just tell the waiter that I want the fish. To which he'll either ask: "the salmon?" and I'll nod my head, or he'll say "which fish?" and I'll just point to the menu like a caveman.