LINGUINI BONGOLE.

That’s the special of the day I saw on a menu board as I walked up Lexington Ave. today. I would like to think this meant the pasta was served by bongo-playing beatnik waiters, but I’m afraid the explanation is much more prosaic: most low-level jobs in New York restaurants are filled by Spanish-speakers, and in Spanish b and v are purely graphic variants for the same phoneme, which is pronounced [b] at the start of a word. (And, in case you didn’t know, vongole are clams in Italian.)

Comments

  1. I saw the same dish in a few restaurants when I was in Japan. I believe also the explanation is the same.
    Besides, I wonder how came the Italian “linguine” changed its final vowel in English.

  2. dungbeattle says:

    B vs v has many times in anglais put vison to the head of the line as bison when called out for KP.

  3. One of my favorite New York phenomena is restaurant-sign misspellings (re-spellings?) of familiar Italian dishes. I’ve seen “muzzarella” more than once. Also “lesagna.”

  4. Going Dotty in Kansas says:

    Once I saw a sandwich board in front of a dysfunctional McDonald’s restaurant (125th & Bway) which announced, in crudely-lettered spray paint, DRIVE THUR IS-CLOSE. One of those things that makes you look twice, I suppose.

  5. Frank Prain says:

    I was in a local (Melbourne) Vietnamese bakery last week – they had a board with all their offerings written up. At the bottom of the board was: “Bon Alfatite “(with an acute accent on its own after the e).
    It took me a second to realise that this was meant to be “bon appetit” with a soft p, though I’m not sure where the l fits in.

  6. Luigi Bongole says:

    This is not funny.

  7. Yes it is!!
    A mistake often made on street-signs and menus of Dutch restaurants and butchers is the Gordon bleu, where it should be Cordon bleu. Our popular singer Gordon may have something to do with it, but I put it down to ignorance. And of course the usual misspellings of Italian foodnames.
    On the other side of the world, in Chiang Mai, a friend of mine once payed for his meal by correcting the menu card, wich up to then had been written in largely phonetic-looking Thai-ish English.

  8. I just realise that I wrote that the Dutch butchers & restaurantholders make their mistakes because of their misspellings of Italian foodnames. It would serve them right, but that’s not what I meant.

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