I heard that Seattle restaurant “eye-VAR’s” was serving buy-one-get-one-free bowls of their famous mollusk-based soup on Thursday to celebrate National Clam Chowder Day. Then, I heard that the same deal had been offered by “EYE-ver’s.”
The real name of the restaurant is, of course, Ivar’s, and the correct pronunciation (used by the eponymous man himself) is “EYE-verz.” It’s Seattle’s closest thing to a shibboleth, or a word whose pronunciation provides clues about the origins of the person pronouncing it.
My amateur linguistic analysis of the Ivar’s Shibboleth is this: If you pronounce it correctly (EYE-verz), then you’ve probably lived here more than 25 years and were likely born here. If you’re in the eye-VARZ camp, you probably moved here as an adult sometime in the late 1980s or after. More importantly, you’ve probably been too busy amassing a fortune in the tech industry to pay too much attention to matters such as how to pronounce the name of a local fish and chip shop.
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