Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Mar 15 19:11:52 UTC 2001

Beth, the "niche" issue is a pet peeve of mine.  A few years ago, "neesh"
(rhymes with "sheesh!") came into vogue.  I'm sure it has always been an
accepted pronunciation, but growing up, I had only heard "nitch."  About a
year and half ago, or so, I heard our former president, W.J. Clinton, use
"neesh."  I was so nonplused that I ran--not walked but ran--to the nearest
dictionary--an American Heritage--and found to my relief and petty pleasure
(and I realize that this is the anal retentive idgit in me at work, so don't
feel you have to point out my well-documented peccadilloes) that the
preferred pronunciation is "nitch," with "neesh" as a second pronunciation.

I wish I knew why "neesh" bugged me so much.  Perhaps it's because "nitch"
is what I grew up hearing--from everyone--until some marketing yahoos
(probably) got ahold of it in the late 80s or early 90s.  I imagine they had
just learned to that brie was one syllable and not two and that Perrier
doesn't rhyme with furrier.  "Neesh" smacks of affectation to me, which may
be a touch hypocritical of me.  I hope not.

> From: "Simon,Beth" <Simon at IPFW.EDU>
> Organization: Indiana University Purdue University Ft. Wayne
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 13:46:44 -0500
> Central Iowa (Des Moines) -- The word _clique_ /klIk/ "click" was not
> infrequent in my high school. We were all in clicks, talked about
> clicks, were or weren't in so-n-so's click, etc. But then, we all said
> "nitch" _niche_.
> I've since learned "neesh" -- but I usu forget. I've probably said
> "cleek" out loud, maybe twice, but when I see _clique_ in print, I
> hear/read "click".
> beth
> beth lee simon, ph.d.
> associate professor, linguistics and english
> indiana university purdue university
> tel 219 481 6772; fax 219 481 6985
> email simon at
> American Dialect Society wrote:
>> The heavy majority for "click" so far has surprised me.  I learned the word
>> as "cleek" and still pronounce it that way on the rare occasions when I use
>> it at all.  I've heard "click," of course, and it bothered me because 1) we
>> already have a word pronounced that way and it means something else, and 2)
>> I figured that most people know the French sequence -ique is pronounced
>> [ik] (not [Ik]) in other words, whether they actually speak French or not,
>> so why wouldn't they follow the same pattern in this case?
>> My reaction may stem from a false assumption that since it's a
>> comparatively infrequent word, most people would have first encountered it
>> in writing, or at least learned it in some context that was closely
>> associated with the spelling.  Two other factors may be that 1) my mother,
>> from whom I first heard the word, knew French, and 2) this list has taught
>> me that some of my actual, native-speaker pronunciations are spelling
>> pronunciations for other people.
>> So on second thought, maybe I should disqualify myself as a reliable
>> informant.
>> Peter Mc.
>> ****************************************************************************
>> Peter A. McGraw
>> Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>> pmcgraw at
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>> From:         "Peter A. McGraw" <pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: CLIK/CLEEK & NATIVE SPEAKER [was "FAG one last time"]
>> To:           ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>> In-Reply-To:  <sab09f53.086 at>

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