Shibboleth Chowder

Sorting newcomers from natives by the way they say "Ivar's."
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Ivar's Mukilteo Landing

Sorting newcomers from natives by the way they say "Ivar's."

I heard that Seattle restaurant 'ꀜeye-VAR'ꀙs'ꀝ 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 'ꀜEYE-ver'ꀙs.'ꀝ

The real name of the restaurant is, of course, Ivar'ꀙs, and the correct pronunciation (used by the eponymous man himself) is 'ꀜEYE-verz.'ꀝ It'ꀙs Seattle'ꀙs 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'ꀙs Shibboleth is this: If you pronounce it correctly (EYE-verz), then you'ꀙve probably lived here more than 25 years and were likely born here. If you'ꀙre in the eye-VARZ camp, you probably moved here as an adult sometime in the late 1980s or after. More importantly, you'ꀙve 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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