Tag Archives: pronuncition

Origins of Tea

Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of where the word tea comes from and its pronunciation in different regions of the world. She learned these facts from her mother who is interested in history.


“There’s only categories of how you pronounce the word tea, there’s tea and ta. The different countries that say tea, you can tell how they originally source the tea from China. In China they call tea, ta. Ams there’s this one province that called in te. The dutch would travel around Africa to get tea from that specific spot and that’s the only place that says ta. So you can tell where these places got their tea by how they say it. Like Persia says it che and more of the western countries say things more like tea.”


I found this information really interesting. Being that the informant was 26, her mom, who taught her this, is about 52. It is cool to see how the older generation can bring about knowledge like this from their origins. I had never thought about the pronunciation of different words and how they came to be, but I am intrigued by language and am excited to learn more.

Desprit Idjit

L is a 53-year-old homemaker living in Winnetka, IL. L grew up mainly in the northern suburbs of Illinois, but she also lived in Germany and England for a while when she was younger. L speaks English primarily but she is learning French. L attended both the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin Madison for her undergraduate college education. L considers herself to be American. She does not really identify with her Welsh ancestry.

Me: Where did the term come from?

L: A crazy woman named Shawna that was leading a tour around Ireland through the ring of Kerry on a huge coach bus. Every time the coach would get stuck, by some car not making room for the coach, or some person walking in front of the coach, in the middle of a sentence explaining what we were seeing at the time, she would blurt out, “Desprit ijit!”

Me: What does it mean?

L: It means a person that is so clueless and is not paying attention, so in English it would be a desperate idiot. Someone who is painfully stupid. It was really more of a pronunciation thing because she had a thick Irish accent. She repeated it throughout our entire trip probably six or seven times a day. So, there were a lot of idiots.

Me: Do you still use the phrase?

L: Desprit ijit? Yeah. All the time. It’s the funniest thing, it cracks everyone up. I use it when I’m driving a lot. But you have to say it with the accent because otherwise it just isn’t as funny.

L talks about how a random phrase that some people in the U.S. likely use, though it sounds different due to the accent, has become so funny to her. The accent of the tour guide and the phrase she said constantly, “desprit ijit,” was so funny to L, and she liked it so much that she has started to use it on a daily basis. She exudes Shawna, the tour guide’s, personality when she get behind the wheel because she has to deal with “deprit ijits” who just don’t know how to drive.