A Lengthy Reboot

By Richard Hsu
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Until recently, I was pronouncing salmon as sal-mon instead of samon (silent l). My son corrected me at lunch when we were eating baked salmon. How did I not know? No idea.

I spent the first 29 years of my life in India. We didn't eat salmon or talk about it. While I did watch movies and listen to English songs, I don't remember hearing that word. But I have been in Canada for 15 years now, and salmon is something we eat, and it comes up in conversations too. Other than my kids, most people in my social and professional circles are from Asia. Perhaps, we are one big group of people ignorant of the correct pronunciation?

It took my Canadian born son, who finally decided he had heard the l sound one time too many for me to be aware.

Fast forward a few months, I am reading a story to my daughter at night. My son was also listening to my dramatic reading of Tiger Shiger (Tales From Bengal) when I read the words He was certain that the Shiger was, by far, a much scarier animal or 'rakkhosh' or ghost, than even himself.

He interrupted me saying the 'h' is silent in ghost (it's pronounced gos-t, not g-host like how I was pronouncing it). It felt like he was telling me day is night, and night is day. I took up the challenge and looked up the pronunciation, and he was right!

None of the theories for not knowing how to pronounce salmon applies to ghost, and yet here we are.

Even when I know it and am aware, old habits are hard to break, so I think I still say g-host, and he reminds me again by making fun of it1.

  1. He will cover himself with a blanket and say ooo, I am ghost (with an extra emphasis on the 'h' sound)