Judge John Hodgman Episode 21: You Say Tomato, I Say Justice


We have a pronunciation problem. Matt brings the case against his friend Josh, who he argues pronounces a number of words incorrectly. Affectations, shibboleths, and regionalisms: we've got it all.

You may view the evidence for this case behind the jump, and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or through this RSS feed.

Matt's Evidence

Exhibit A: "The first is a picture of some of my dictionaries, which should prove how many words I know."

Exhibit B: "The second shows the two of us on a carnival ride. It appears I'm trying to reason with him, and he's obviously being recalcitrant. This should lend itself to character development. "

Exhibit C: "The third is a picture of the entry under "often" in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler. This was published around the turn of the century, so I assume it's out of copyright. (Copyright concerns being the only reason I haven't supplied more resources.)"


Oh yah, you betcha.

This is easily my favorite episode of JJHO. I live in Wisconsin, but did not grow up here. People have pretty intense accents around these parts and think that the words bag, tag, rag, etc. rhyme with vague. It's cray.

Matt! Open your super small

Matt! Open your super small "dumb-dumb" mind! I'm from Philadelphia, a city that matters, and you say a LOT of words wrong. Roof as "ruf?" Seriously? Stop it.

Get off your high horse, you elitist scumbag.

Matt seems like a horrible

Matt seems like a horrible person. I wish John had asked him exactly why he was so scared of sounding "working class."


IF Matt is "working" at a bank, doesn't he include himself in the "working" class?


As a fellow Idahoan, it is pronounced "Boy-see" and will forever be pronounced Boise! Even if in French it is pronounced with a Z. Something something Americans etc etc patriotism, you know what I'm saying here.

Another Idahoan word

As another Idahoan, my use of often is usually sans the "T", but I will say it with the "T" sometimes. I also say roof as ruf, not rooof. I think that is just an Idahoan pronunciation. Always Boy-see, not Boyzy.

Oh no, no, no.

I'm sorry, your honor, but I was with you up until the end.

Your assertion that the increasing mispronunciation of the word "nuclear" as an example of the evolution of linguistic acceptability is not acceptable to me! Differing pronunciations of words such as OR-gan/O-re-gone, or Ne-vA-da/Ne-vaaah-da are legitimately acceptable because the pronunciation does not rely on the spelling of the word.

On the other hand, often butchered words such as "nuclear" and "chipotle" should NOT be allowed to be mispronounced, since they are spelled in a specific way that makes their correct pronunciation obvious for anyone who cared to take a moment and enunciate the word as it is written.

Open and Shut

I really didn't think Matt had a chance from the get go. His argument can be disproven by opening any modern dictionary and the way he kept saying "working class" in a such a derisive manner just made him seem so pretentious. Also, using words like shibboleths and recalcitrant didn't help.

Thank you, Judge John Hodgman

I just wanted to say thank you, Judge John Hodgman, for ruling in Josh's favor. After having lived in various regions of the United States, I have heard a multitude of pronunciations and while it may seem odd or plain old annoying if you are not from that area, I agree it does not necessarily mean it is wrong. Sorry, Matt. Yes, often with the “t”enunciated does sound a bit pretentious and could be a bit distracting to some, there are much bigger fish to fry. Thank you for a fun half hour.

Thank you!

This podcast just gets better and better. It's both funny and a subtle dissection of modern society. With the exception of a couple hinky Skype connections, it is also very well produced. I hope my modest contribution during the Max Fun Drive helped in that effort. Even though "modest" is an extremely generous assessment of my donation, I'm going tell people that it did.