Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 28, 2021

Is it (ko-pen-HAY-gen) or (ko-pen-HAH-gen)?

That’s the conundrum I found myself in today when I chose the latter pronunciation for the capital city of Denmark. The purpose of which was to order a Copenhagen Zesto sandwich at Pax.

I guess I’m in a distinct minority among lunchers in midtown Manhattan, because the order-taker did a double-take and asked me to repeat the name of the sandwich. I did so, then jabbed my finger at the glass to make sure there was no further confusion.

Maybe I should reconsider my choice of long or short vowel for Hans Christian Andersen’s turf. Although maybe not, both because I’ll invoke my first-generation Euro heritage and because I’m hesitant to let a deli-counter jockey dictate my diction.

And to further hint at where my head was at after this encounter, I actually walked away with the Beastie Boys’ “Super Disco Breakin’” reverberating in my mind. Specifically the lyrical snippet, “When I’m in Holland, I eat the pannenkoeken”. Dutch, not Danish, but somehow it felt like a proper coda.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/28/2008 05:37:20 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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4 Feedbacks »
  1. I sympathize with your plight. On the first day of class, I often get into arguments with my students about the proper pronunciation of their own surnames.

    I have a Wiegenbrand who pronounces not only the first consonant but the following vowel combo improperly. A lot of this is, and as you infer you’re coming from a similar position, the result of growing up in an area where traditional pronunciations are retained. I grew up with a lot of people named Drewes (DRAY-vess) as an example, along with a ton of Badenhops, Bischoffs, Krauses, and Meyers.

    Long story short, stick with it, I say. A little learning amongst the population about traditional pronunciation is a good thing.

    Comment by tim — 01/28/2008 @ 06:22:28 PM

  2. […] It’s hard to order a sandwich at Pax.  Is it Copen-hay-gen or Copen-hah-gen? [Population Statistic] […]

    Pingback by Midtown Lunch » Midtown Links (Midweek Champagne & Pork Roast Edition) — 01/30/2008 @ 11:33:11 AM

  3. You’re pronouncing it incorrectly. It’s Ko-pen-hay-gen.

    Comment by Koppenhaver — 02/05/2021 @ 12:22:06 PM

  4. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to, m’friend…

    Comment by CT — 02/05/2021 @ 07:48:33 PM

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