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How to pronounce pecan correctly

Has anyone else noticed the chill in the autumn air? No, it's not the changing weather, but the intense foodie debates that keep popping up this time of year, and one of the biggest points of contention, especially as we move towards Thanksgiving, is how to pronounce Pecan.



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It seems like people fall into two different camps on this issue: is it 'Pe-Cahn' or 'Pee-Can'? Neither side is ready to admit or accept defeat, so the battle rages on. But if you want to avoid a large family divide around the holiday dining table, then it has to be proven once and for all how to pronounce pecan correct Path. Not all heroes wear capes, my friends.



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Zoe Malin

As a big word nerd, I knew I had to figure out where the word came from before I could tell anyone how to pronounce pecan. It turns out that this humble nut's roots go back to before the Declaration of Independence.



'Pecan' as a word has crossed many international waters, but is rooted in Indian tradition. It's not entirely clear which Native American group first came up with the word for this nut. Some say that 'pecan' is derived from the Illinois word pakani while others lay claim to the Algonquians or the Faith. Ultimately, however, the pecan had changed to the French word by the early 18th century Pacane.

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After comparing a bunch of different pronunciations online it was pretty obvious that native French speakers would pronounce the word 'Peck-Anne' with an emphasis on the first syllable of the word.

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Zoe Malin



So while the authentic French pronunciation is well and good, how do we pronounce this word in the States? As a native of New England, I've always said 'PEE-can', but it turns out I'm in the minority here.

According to a dialect map from Farm Flavor, most Americans put emphasis on the second syllable. However, the University of Wisconsin-Madison deleted its own chart on the subject, showing that some people pronounce the word differently depending on whether it is on its own or in a compound word like 'pecan pie'.

Can anyone win?

Amanda Shulman

Mark that day folks, a proud Boston girl wants to admit she was wrong. I have consulted both the Merriam Webster Dictionary and the Cambridge Dictionary online. It turns out that while people pretend that word is a tough nut to crack, it has been pretty easy all along.

The correct pronunciation is 'pe-CAHN'. I know I'm just as shocked as you are, but it's true. The good news is that it doesn't make this nut any less tasty.

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In all honesty, it will be difficult for people to suddenly change a pronunciation that they have been using all of their lives. But now you can sound like a super knowledgeable foodie when the opportunity arises. As for me? I don't care how to pronounce pecan as long as you hit those babies up some pecan chocolate!