It's happened again. Just when I think I have mastered all the quirks of the British English language and its various odd pronunciations, one reaches out to bite me on the ass.
The culprit this time is the innocuous word macrame. Remember macrame? It was all the rage in the 70s. For some reason the other night I felt the need to speak its name -- MAC-ra-may. My companions hooted with laughter. Apparently not MAC-ra-may, but ma-CRA-may. I don't know which pronunciation is actually correct. I don't care. In my country, the way I said it is right. Sorry, my home country, the land of my birth. In my adopted country, apparently the second way is correct, and humiliating those who say it wrong is socially acceptable.
This has happened to me before, many times. The first word was oregano. My future mother-in-law peered at me over her glasses when I said o-REG-a-no. Politely, she corrected me -- or-i-GAN-o. I already knew about the to-may-to/to-mah-to debate (we Americans preserved the Elizabethan pronunciation apparently). I knew about lu-ten-ant/lef-tenant. I discovered Van Go/Van Goff, ga-RAJH/gar-ridge, and jag-wahr/jag-u-arh.
The British have a way of taking foreign words and making them their own, with their own pronunciations. Take poor Jose Mourinho. In his home country, and probably the rest of the world, he is HO-say. Here in Britain, he is Josie (as in Josie and the Pussycats). When I order Mexican food with my friends, I have hal-i-pen-yo peppers while they have jal-i-pe-no peppers.
I don't know if the Brits should be criticised for pronouncing foreign words their own way. Every language contains bastardized forms of words from another language. Even French. But I do think that some Brits show their ignorance of other cultures by making fun of those who pronounce words differently. Not that ignorance is something only the Brits have. They just are more pronounced in how they show it.