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L’ What?

Have you ever come across the name of a store that you couldn’t pronounce? Since it’s a proper noun you can’t look it up in a dictionary. You ask friends, but they can’t pronounce it either. Each of you calls it by a different name, yet you all know exactly what you are referring to. For my husband and I, that store is L’Occitane en Provence. I wandered into this store in the mall last summer and fell in love with the scent of their citrus verbena products. When I spritzed myself with that fragrance, my husband complimented me and asked where it came from; that is when our troubles began.

“I got it in that French store in the mall,” I said trying to avoid saying the actual name of the store.

“What French store?” he asked.

“You know the one I’m talking about. “LAH-OC-SIH-TANE,” I said butchering the name.

He paused for a minute, thought about what I had said and then realized which store I was talking about. “That’s how you say the name of that store?” he asked intrigued. “I thought it was pronounced LUH-O-SEE-TAHN.”

“I have no idea how to pronounce the name of the store. But, you knew exactly what I was talking about.”

And so began an intermittent quest for the true pronunciation of L’Occitane. Each time we passed the store in the mall, it would momentarily spark our curiosity. We’d renew our conversation about how to pronounce the name, take a few horribly mispronounced guesses and leave the topic alone until the next time we happened by the store. I suppose if the urge to know the answer to our pronunciation dilemma was insatiable, we could have just gone into the store to ask, but where’s the sport in that?

A few weeks ago our curiosity got the better of us while we were actually shopping in the store when it wasn’t very busy. While the cashier was ringing up my purchase, Oregano asked, “How do you pronounce the name of this store? We’ve been wondering for awhile and have absolutely no idea.”

The cashier laughed, said she gets asked that question a lot, then kindly pronounced the name of the store and told us what it meant in French. Curiosity sated, we walked out of the store repeating the name, but by the time we reached our car in the parking lot we had managed to mangle the correct pronunciation. For a brief moment we were able to say the name of the store; then we were saying a host of new, more French sounding mispronunciations.

Not long after our fleeting and fruitless attempt at learning the name of the store, a friend was extolling the virtues of shea butter hand cream. When I asked her which brand she preferred she said, “It’s from LOW-KEY-TAH-NAY.”

Immediately, I knew which store she was referring to and I started laughing at the ridiculously Italian sounding pronunciation of this French store. “That’s not how you say the name of that store,” I said still giggling. I couldn’t accurately pronounce the name of the store when she asked me to, but LOW-KEY-TAH-NAY was definitely not it.

My friend, Bruschetta, speaks Italian and since she didn’t know how to pronounce the name of the store, she went to her default foreign language setting and decided to Italianize the French name of the store. This kicked off a pronunciation debate and a crusade for knowledge, if for no other reason than to prove one of us was wrong.

Bruschetta looked at me and said, “How are we going to find out the name of the store?”

“That’s easy,” I said. “Call the store and listen to what they say when they answer the phone. That will solve the problem.”

In seconds, Bruschetta whipped out her phone, looked up the number and was calling the store. As it rang on speaker phone, I asked what she planned to say after the person on the other end said the name of the store. On the third ring a woman picked up the phone and quickly said something French sounding. Quick thinking Bruschetta asked a question about location and then we hung up.

“Did you hear what she said?” Bruschetta asked frantically.

“No, there was too much background noise. Damn! Try another store. There’s one in Bridgewater.”

We were formulating a new game plan when we realized we could just ask a colleague of ours who speaks French. So, like two insane women on an urgent trivial mission, we approached our colleague and asked for his help. Bruschetta held her i-phone towards this French-speaking good sport and asked, “How do you pronounce the name of this store?”

Being the kind man that he is, he graciously indulged our insanity without asking any questions. We had our answer, but neither one of us had been right. Bruschetta began showing her i-phone to everyone within arm’s reach and asked them to read the name of the store. Not one person pronounced the name the same way and not one person pronounced it correctly. It was an impressive array of mispronunciations.

Later that night, I recounted this tale to Oregano who reminded me that the cashier had mentioned a You Tube video in which a marketing team stopped people on a street outside L’Occitane en Provence and asked them how to pronounce the name of the store. After we watched the video, I realized that Bruschetta and I had unknowingly re-created this experiment on a smaller scale in our office. One might question the rationale in choosing a name for a store that most people outside of France can not accurately pronounce. On the other hand, maybe it is a stroke of genius. While we might not be able to say the name of the store, we can’t stop talking about it.

Curious? Watch the video to finally get the right answer to this pronunciation mystery.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

356 responses »

  1. Just coming across this now, but this is amazing. There’s one of these stores a block down from my office. Now I know. The other store that gets me in a way more embarrassing way is “Bebe.” Is it “bee-bee” or “beh-beh”? The first makes me sound like an idiot if I’m wrong, the second makes me sound super pretentious! Oh, these stores…

    Reply
    • I don’t understand why these stores don’t have some sort of pronunciation guide somewhere near their entrances or printed on their receipts. We have a Bebe in the mall nearby and I have no idea how to say it either. I haven’t even attempted saying it for exactly the reasons you mentioned. And, if I can’t say it, I’m not shopping there.

      So glad to know that you found your way over to Good Humored and enjoyed your visit. Thanks for subscribing.

      Reply
  2. Great post – hilarious video too!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Naming Your Business For Profit (And fun) | Greater Profits Marketing

  4. I’m new here. I love your name!

    Reply
  5. Pingback: LOX-EE-TAN « belovedalene

  6. Haha! Me and my bf and his sister walked passed that store Sunday and I asked them how they pronounced it. It sounded right though! LOL

    Lossitane

    Hihi

    Reply
  7. Pingback: 7 X 7 Link Award « Good Humored

  8. I love this, I got a hamper of L’Occitane For Christmas, so glad I know how to pronounce it now.

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  9. I found this video quite amusing! Being a French speaker, I recognised the correct pronunciation, however before becoming fluent I remember always struggling with odd names like this. And it always seemed to be in French. La this or Le that. Always French. Have to agree with the above comment – French has an uncanny ability to make everything sound more classy that it actually is.

    Reply
    • Thanks for admitting that while you are now fluent in French, you struggled with it at one time. It’s quite a challening word for those of us with no French language skills. Having a French sounding name does add some flair, though.

      Reply
  10. Having enjoyed your posts so much when asked to nominate a favourite for the 7 x 7 award, you came to mind.

    So, you have been awarded the 7 x 7 Award – Congratulations! Find out more at http://theemeraldgarden.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/7-x-7-award/

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for nominating me for this award. I’m glad that you enjoyed my posts enough to share this award with me. I look forward to catching up on your blog starting with the 7 posts you’ve chosen.

      Reply
  11. Pingback: 7 x 7 Award | The Emerald Garden Blog

  12. Grace Cadenilla

    You have ended my problem. I myself have been wondering for the proper pronunciation of this store. Funny and interesting post! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Pingback: L’ What? « burstsofjoy

  14. I have nominated you for a versatile bogger award. Check it out and join in—> http://flashingformoney.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/versatile-blogger-awards/

    This was far too hilarious! great writing technique 🙂

    Reply
  15. Pingback: VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARDS « flashingformoney

  16. Amazingly you have managed to clear up something that has been a mystery to me for a very very long time. Thanks! Next time I won’t sound like such a pleb when I present one of my friends with a gift from the_store_that_cannot_be_named. 😉

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  17. By the way, do you seriously have friends names Bruschetta and Oregano? That’s even funnier than L’Occitane!

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  18. Love it. Love the video. Who knew that a business name could generate so many smiles?

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  19. eisemanandassociates

    Perfecto! This made me giggle. Thank you for sharing. So freshly pressed!

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  20. reading your post was fun … but watching the video was cool …. I shall now remember it
    lock see taan ….. thanks

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  21. I’m always amused when I pronounce the name correctly and then a family member/friend/etc. says, “What?” as if I’m the one saying it wrong!

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  22. Like x 100! Great story, great ending. Love it.

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  23. Working on marketing myself with an unpronouceable word (not just a symbol, Prince)something no one can remember but is at the same time unforgettable. Loved the post. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    Reply
    • Glad you could relate to the story. Working with a symbol seems even more challenging than working with a word that is difficult to pronounce. At least the L’Occitane people know that people who speak French will be able to pronounce it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  24. Funny….funny…:.-)…You have Bruschetta(Italian bread) and Oregano…now all you need is Prosciutto ham and a Baguette…and you have a meal, but please… first wash away the l’Occitane lavendar lotion from your hands…..too funny….

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  25. Love it! Informative AND entertaining! =)

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  26. Love this post! Giggled all the way through! 😀 We have that store in Dublin too, and also asked myself how to pronounce that darned name. I should ask the shopkeeper next time I am there. LOL.

    Cheers, Theresa

    Reply
    • Thanks for the great compliment, Theresa. It makes me really happy to know that I made you laugh. If you watch the video a few times you may be able to go into your shop in Dublin and impress the shopkeeper by saying the name correctly. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  27. LOL. This post is hilarious. I’ve heard many people go through the struggles of French pronounciation. With this one instance, luckily for me, the first time I came accross this store was actually in Paris, France! I’d gone there to visit my French girlfriend. Whenever the store comes up in conversation back home, I always correct everyone (lol). My French is pretty awful overall tho.
    Merci for sharing!

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed the post. It would seem you have some insider information on the pronunciation. Very generous of you to correct those of us who are saying it wrong instead of letting us look like fools. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  28. Haha this blog post is so relevent to me right now. Me and my friend were just wondering how to pronounce it the other day!

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  29. Congratulations of being “pressed”! This post is great. None of my friends can wrap their tongues around that name either! I laughed out loud when I read this. Great blog as well – happy to have stumbled across it thanks to Freshly Pressed.

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  30. Nice…..Is that in NY or somthing?because I never heard of this place.

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    • I believe the video was taken in NYC, but other readers have checked in from other parts of the US, Canada, France and Indonesia to tell me that they have the store in their locations too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  31. finally!!! hahaha I know how to say it!! 😀 Thank you for this fun post! 😀

    Reply
  32. An easy way to pronounce would be “lock-see-tan”. Loved your entry! Hilarious to the end and that video was the cherry! My husband and I were laughing at all the mispronunciations 🙂

    Reply
    • I keep repeating the name in my head. After all the wonderful hints and French lessons I’ve gotten in my comments, I think I’ll be able to remember the name of the store. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  33. I’m so glad the video revealed the true pronunciation. Not like some movies that leave you “wondering” because there’s no right answer…that would’ve killed me!

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  34. haha this is so true. it’s quite tricky for sure if one doesn’t know a lick of french

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  35. Hello! Congratulations for making it in the freshly pressed. You know, you got me hanging for some minutes just to finally conclude the correct pronounciation. Thank you for this simple but LOl read. 🙂

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  36. I have asked every one how to pronounce this. I was right but I have heard so many things. Never thought to call the store. This was a hilarious post!

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  37. So fun! Love the video. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  38. You’re right on target. I love the scent and haven’t got a clue how to pronounce it…. and I’m French!

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  39. reminded me of the time a friend gave me a bath set for Christmas and the only way I could call it (L’Occitane) when asked where it came from is “that bath/fragrance store on the lower ground floor of this mall” and everyone who asked knew exactly what it was.

    great post! 🙂

    Reply
  40. OMG!! Suuuuuch a great post. I think we can all think of a situation like this in our own lives.

    Reply
  41. Pingback: “Eye” Do: A Humorous Look at a Visit to the Eye Doctor with a Reluctant Patient and his Wife « Good Humored

  42. OMG, Paprika! Congrats on Freshly Pressed! I feel like I know a celebrity now! It explains the sudden upswing in people finding my blog from yours! I had an all time high of 52 hits two days ago and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why….A little Freshly Pressed happiness rubbing off on me!!! BTW, I finally have your blog link under “Blogs I love” on Woman in the Middle. Got that tech help I needed. It took them ten minutes so I never would have figured it out!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks! I’m stunned that I was Freshly Pressed and thrilled that some of that rubbed off on my blog buddies. I hope it leads to more subscribers for you. Thanks for adding me to your “Blogs I love” section 🙂

      Reply
  43. I enjoyed this post. You turned it into this fun quest and I think that is very creative of you. Good work and congrats.

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  44. I never realized how hard it was to some people.. lol i just always said Lok-c-tan, maybe i’m a natural french speaker? that wouldnt make any sense would it.
    no im not
    sadly.

    Reply
  45. This was amazing… It’s been one of difficult words for me too, to pronounce it.. Thank you I learned now 🙂 Congratulations being on Freshly Pressed. It is so nice to meet with you. With my love, nia

    Reply
  46. couldn’t wait to share this with my husband! 🙂 he gave me a bath set of the citrus verbena products about a year ago, & since then, we’ve both been guessing how to pronounce the brand correctly too! funny how many we are who could relate, but just never really took the time & effort to find out the way you guys finally did!!! ;D thanks & it was really entertaining!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post enough to share it with your husband. Don’t you love the scent of those citrus verbena products? Until I saw the video and all of these comments I had no idea how many of us were in the same boat. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  47. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  48. I really enjoyed this post! I can relate because my relatives are from Tennessee, and they mispronounce everything; especially if it is a brand name, store or celebrity. For example, Ashton Kootcher, Tommy Hil-finger, etc. Thanks for the laugh this morning. 🙂

    Reply
  49. Loved your blog post!! I’m sure many can relate! We’ll test you next time you come into our boutique 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  50. This is hysterical! I’m so amused that there is a video on YouTube that finally answers the question (after many butchering attempts, of course). 🙂 I myself tend to pronounce it differently every time. I wonder how long I’ll remember the right way to say it???

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and video so much. It’s very comforting to know that we aren’t the only ones stumped by the pronunciation of that store. Good luck remembering the name. You can always pop back onto the blog to remind yourself. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  51. life/style/flash.

    Haha I was going to say I ring stores that I can’t pronounce but they do usually say it quite fast so it doesn’t always work!

    life/style/flash.

    Reply
    • Phoning the store was a good idea, but we didn’t anticipate how quickly the person would speak or all the background noise. Clearly, it was not the best way to find our answer. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  52. Good post! I can relate because I shop there sometimes The other store name that I struggle with is SUR La Table. It’s that fancy cookware store.

    Congrats on your Freshly Pressed

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  53. love it, great post!

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  54. I don’t think I can pronounce the name of the store correctly, still. I can see how you could walk out of the store and not remember what they just told you. I definitely think it’s a marketing stroke of genius. Enjoyed your post very much.

    Reply
    • I agree with you that it is a marketing stroke of genius. For a name we can’t say, it’s sure been generating a lot of buzz. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  55. I had been through this very ting with a Canadian friend who seems to know everything. She put me right, but a really interesting story none the less. It’s nice to know that others had the same toruble with it that I did. Schoolboy french was useless..

    Reply
    • It would seem that native English speakers have had to rely on the kindness of people who speak French to correct us. I didn’t even have French in school so I was completely clueless about the pronunciation. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  56. This is hilarious. I love the spice references too. 🙂 Great site!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. My friends and family are enjoying the spice references, too. I usually let them pick their own and everyone has been getting a kick out of it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  57. Awesome post. I wrote a boring follow up on my blog. Well, its not really a followup, but your post has been mentioned. Just thought you’d like to know.
    http://greater-profits.com/2012/01/04/naming-your-business-for-profitits-fun-too/

    Reply
  58. Pingback: Naming Your Business For Profit(Its fun too.) | Greater Profits Marketing

  59. L’oKSitane (Occitane, Occitan, Occitanie, Oc, Languedoc)
    Look:
    http://abbassa.wordpress.com/courtois/

    Reply
  60. LOOL! I use to pronounce it LO-SEE-TAN!! Thanks for the info!

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  61. Great insight into how freakin’ hard it is to pronounce that store’s name. This post is an inspiration to all who have experienced french pronunciation faux-pas !

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  62. This is a really funny post. lol thanks for sharing, we defo recommend to my friends, they’ll find this crazy 🙂

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  63. This post gave me bucket of smile! 😉

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  64. (That’s assuming you don’t mind of course!)

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  65. As a native French speaker, it had never occurred to me that this might be hard to pronounce, but now that you’ve pointed it out – yeah! You actually need to know quite a few rules of French spelling to know this… Like that c before a consonant is a K sound, but before an E or an I it’s a S sound. Thank for this, might have to use the video in my lessons or on my language blog!

    Reply
    • Isn’t it funny how native speakers of a language are often unable to recognize the parts of their language that might be a challenge for non-native speakers. Each language has it’s own rules and nuances. I’ve learned quite a bit about the French language from the very generous readers who were willing to share some of the rules with me. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  66. So well written.. I was so curious to know actual pronunciation .. This reminds of another name that I still don’t know how to pronounce .. It’s Jake Gyllenhaal .. I’m just too lazy to search it on youtube or anything.. It is always Jake “What’s his name” .. So ultimately nowadays I end up calling him Jake G ..

    Awesome post !Congrats on Freshly pressed !

    Reply
  67. i swear the pronunciation of that juggles my head like what!!!!!!!!low octane. it gives me shivers to say the least, its like trying to memorize those creepy, hard chemistry words …low octane, butane, ..and the you tube video, jejeje nice. wonder what people thought

    Reply
    • The word is a head-scratcher if you are not a speaker of the French language. It was fun to watch those people on the video mess up the pronunciation as much as we were. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  68. It’s simple… learn the very straightforward pronunciation rules of French and pronounce it
    LOCK-SEE-TANN with a little bit of stress on the LOCK (think of the British “LOCK” pronunciation though) and more stress on the TANN bit. Then you’re all set, unless your buying something from the shop’s men’s line, in which case it’s called L’OCCITAN and is pronounced LOCK-SEE-TAH~ (the TAH~ here is a nasalized dark-ah sound)… easy as π… 😉

    Reply
    • Ahhh, yes, very simple indeed. You can bet that I will be staying out of the men’s section of the store. I’m having enough trouble mastering this one word. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  69. Awesome blog, Fell upon it and really enjoyed it. Thanks 🙂

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  70. HAHAH such a cool post!! 😀

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  71. Superb post! I was in a similar dilemma, thanks for sorting it out. *repeats to herself LOX-EE-TAN*

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the post. Keep repeating that name. I’ve been repeating it, wrote the post and still get it wrong if I’m not really thinking about how to pronounce it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  72. Finalement!!! hehehe Thank you for this post!! 😀

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  73. thanks for sharing! been wondering how it’s pronounced. a new learning for the new year! cheers!

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  74. This post is pretty compelling. 😀

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  75. Love it! what a great observation. I always struggle to invite people to ‘Le Pain Quotidien’. My favourite shop name at the moment is Sweaty Betty. No pronounciation probs there but you do get some funny looks from the uninitiated…

    Reply
    • I’m intrigued. What does Sweaty Betty sell in their shop? It’s a fun name to say, but I can see how it might turn a few heads for people who’ve never heard of it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  76. now, that was a fun post! that is really what FP stands for, although many would think it is ‘freshly pressed’. but you managed to pull off both, so i salute you!
    thanks for sharing

    Reply
  77. I loved your post, gave me a good giggle!

    Merci :o)

    Reply
  78. It’s amazing how we can all literately be worlds apart, but have the same experiences… Had the same debate with my boyfriend last night, I thought it was “le oc ittan e” and he said it was “le ox itan” Good post, thanks a mill 🙂

    Reply
  79. Sorry- I’m not an idiot, I didn’t think my first comment went through- my computer seized up on me. I don’t mean to pester!

    Reply
  80. Hi there, I live in Indonesia and on their Indonesian site, L-What actually has a section that’s dedicated to telling you how to pronounce their name: http://www.loccitane.co.id/bagaimana-menyebutkan-l'occitane,41,2,20744,192755.htm (along with a video to help). “Bagaimana Menyebutkan” means “How to Say”.

    Reply
  81. Hahah ! it’s these little things we do in life that make it fun…no ?

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  82. My Mom and I pronounce it as LOK-SI-TAHN here in Manila. 🙂
    We love their products, too!

    Reply
  83. Oh the calamity!! I always wondered how to pronounce the store Oilily. Is it oil-ly or oy-lily? And what about lululemon? Why do people want to make that one French?

    My in-laws have a hard time pronouncing Crate & Barrel, or Abercrombie & Fitch. So let’s not even send them to L’Occitane!
    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    Reply
    • All of these wonderful comments have made me realize that there are a lot more stores and restaurants out there with names that we butcher on a daily basis. I’m also realizing that one person’s easy pronunciation is another person’s challenge. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  84. I love this post and can soooo relate to it! I pronounce it ‘LEH – OCHK – A – TANE’ and tried to say it several times and came across that video they made of people trying to say the store’s name. This cracked me up because I’ve been caught trying to say their store name too, and everyone has their own spin on saying it!

    Reply
  85. Thank you, Paprika, I will now be able to pronounce this brand correctly! Heaven only knows how long I’ve been mispronouncing it! Loved the article. Your name is adorable, as well. : )

    Reply
  86. As someone who was a french minor in college and has travelled to France and West Africa I have to say that I think I enjoyed this post and that video more than I should of. C’est parfait! Congratulations on being freshly pressed. Cheers.

    Reply
  87. As I was reading your post, I began to wonder how it is really pronounced. So I ran through my head different ways to say that one word, each time butchering it I’m sure, as they all sounded wrong. And then the video! Thank heavens you posted the video and solved the mystery right away. Lol.

    Reply
    • I’m not really good at delaying gratification or curiosity so I felt the need to include the video for other readers like me who would want to know immediately how to pronounce the word. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  88. Ridha Bella Ayanda

    I glad to read this one. Hahaha… this is hilarious 😀 There are so many things that I can’t pronounce especially in French, well, thanks for thttps://goodhumored.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/l-what/he post and great video!

    Reply
  89. Very clever. Loved your blog and the video. There’s a store that many try to make sound more upscale by giving it a French pronounciation. They call it Tahr-jay. (Target)

    Reply
    • It is funny that so many of us refer to Target at “Tahr-zhay” trying to make it sound more upscale and the upscale store that is French, we try to Americanize. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  90. I took French and Italian in high school and I still have problems saying a few sentences. Funny story you wrote I enjoyed it =)

    Reply
  91. Fun blog! I’ve always wondered how the heck to pronounce it too…and now I know…thanks!

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  92. I love little mysteries like this! Sometimes it’s kind of a shame when they get solved. But there are always more mysteries! 🙂

    Reply
  93. Great article! Reading it made me giggle, as I’ve had an affinity for this store for quite some time and never really knew if I was pronouncing it right myself. (I was proud to find from the video that I was at least somewhat close…assuming it was LE-OSSI-TAN–maybe a little too Spanish sounding).

    Reply
  94. This is very nice, funny too. Ha!

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  95. Haha – I remember as a kid reading a book called Citadel of Chaos but constantly pronounced it SEA-ATTA-TUL of CHAY-OS.

    Reply
  96. thekellygeorge

    This is great – the mystery finally solved!

    Comes from “Langue d’Oc” (The language of yes) referring to the language spoken in that part of France (now Provence).

    Really enjoyed this –
    Bonne nuit!

    Reply
  97. Brilliant post, Thank you!
    Nice to know it’s not just we English who cause confusion, as in ‘Worcestershire’ Sauce (pronounced ‘Woos-ter-sher’ or even just ‘Wooster’ – but NEVER ‘Wor-sess-ter-shyre’!)

    Reply
    • It’s been really fun reading all of the other words my readers have mispronounced. With each one I read I think, “Oh, yeah! That’s another good one.” Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  98. Thanks, Paprika, for lightening my day – read a few older posts, incl the one on Jewish holidays – l’shana goy tova!

    Reply
  99. It’s Low Octane…meaning they use less petroleum in their products….

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  100. Been wondering this for a while, I’ve been called it “OX-IT-ANE”

    http://spotthestereotype.wordpress.com

    Reply
  101. Haha I’m French and I won’t laugh (I’m not laughing!) but still, haha! Ok, I’m laughing, but I know you’d be the same if you heard me speak English, even though I’ve lived in the US for more than a year now!
    I’m planning on making a video about accents soon, accents are ALWAYS funny 🙂

    Reply
  102. Awesome! I loved you epic journey to figuring out how to say this name. I personally struggle with the word quinoa. Is it CHEENOAH? KEENWAH? Thankfully my school forced us to take many years of French so we can pronounce frou-frou French names.

    Reply
    • I totally know what you mean about pronouncing quinoa. I thought it was QUIN-NO-HAH. I would have never figured out the correct pronunciation of that. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  103. I have always wondered! Thank you solving this urban mystery, and making me feel just a wee bit smarter 🙂 Love the video. Très bonne!

    Reply
  104. Congratulations on being chosen for Freshly Pressed. I knew I found an exceptional, talented writer when I signed on to your blog. Very funny post, and I DID see the You tube account of the pronunciation. It was a TV filler when they got tired of discussing the republican primaries.

    Your friend’s name, Brushetta, absolutely caused me to roar with laughter! I wonder what you would call me if the occasion ever presented itself…

    Ronnie

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your compliments, Ronnie. I guess we’d have to move you to the head of the class since you’ve already seen the video. Bruschetta got to choose her own name. Whenever I am going to include a friend in a story I give them the opportunity to choose their own food related name/spice. I’ll have to think about one for you…

      Reply
  105. Chipotle. I see the word and I think “Kai-pot-uhl” or “Chip-petal” or “Chip-pottle” — anything but how it’s supposed to be pronounced, “Chip-pote-lay.”

    ^_^

    Reply
  106. I’ll be sharing the video with my French students. Very cute.

    Reply
  107. What fun….and I never thought there was a problem, but then again, I had French in school and the first shop I saw was actually in Provence!

    Reply
  108. I was sniggering all the way through this, especially when you called up the stores and your French-speaking friend. Very well written!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad this made you laugh. We were really like two crazy women that day. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Reply
      • I love to see a blogger that makes an effort to reply to every comment! I commend you for that too. If you get a chance please check out my blog too (A little different from what you write but I hope it interests you): http:cupcakinglydeliciouscakediaries.wordpress.com

      • Thanks for your kind words. It’s been challenging keeping up with the comments in a timely fashion since I actually have a full time job, but I feel it is really important to respond to reader’s comments. If a reader takes time from his/her busy day to read one of my stories and then even more time to share a thought with me, I feel like the least I can do is acknowledge that. When things return to a more normal pace for me I will check out your blog. I love to bake and the name of your blog makes me drool.

  109. That is amazing! Now I know 🙂

    Reply
  110. Oh, I thought I was the only one having problems pronouncing this brand! Great post! Love the humor and the story.:)

    Reply
  111. Oh that’s brilliant! It reminds me of the debate my stepmother & I have over whether the Italian-style restaurant chain ASK is pronounced “Ask” or “A-S-K”… It’s never been settled yet!

    Reply
  112. Je parle francais (I speak French) so this post was HILARIOUS and definitely made me smile! 🙂

    Reply
  113. Awesome video!! I was smiling & laughing!! Sorry just too cute to hear MANY different ways of saying it! N I do say it differently too!

    I’m from Singapore & I LOVE their products. Here’s how my bf say it: ” L-O-see-Tane ”

    N here’s how I say it: ” L-OC-C-TANE ” So now I know the REAL pronounciation!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    Reply
  114. Okay, how can 2 people, I like and adore and I believe are completly brilliant get freshly pressed on the same day?!?!?

    Either they’ve finally got someone with an ounce of understanding for true humour up there or I might have to rethink my feelings about freshpressed.

    Congrats, lovely darling Paprika – I don’t know anybody more deserving

    Enjoy the ride 🙂

    Gosh, suddenly I feel very special, maybe the way Madonna’s cocktail waitress feels 😉

    Oh and obviously I’ve enjoyed the post – but than again that’s now surprise 😉

    Reply
  115. L’Occitane is a different dialect than French. I’m not sure how to pronounce the word either, which is pathetic since I teach music appreciation courses on the traditional music of France. Funny post about mangling language. We all do it everyday.

    Reply
  116. What fun! Thanks for providing the answer, too. I was close, but no cigar. I had an S sound rather than the X.

    There are so many words that I read but never say aloud. When reading aloud to a blind friend last summer, so many foreign words showed up, mostly in French, and I was embarrassed at how lousy my pronunciation is!

    Reply
    • There are a lot of words I wouldn’t dare attempt to read out loud. Good for you for being brave enough to attempt to do them while reading aloud to your friend. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  117. Great post. (The hand cream there, at that place, is the best!

    Reply
  118. This gave me a good giggle over my breakfast. Thanks!!

    Reply
  119. YAAAAAAAAY! Paprika! Way to get Freshly Pressed!

    Hilarious. A great read. I am the worst about butchering these things. I love how the video features a host of foreign-accented folks also butchering it. I figured it was just us dumb Americans who can’t pronounce foreign words outside of “hamburger.”

    Again, CONGRATS! Enjoy the ride. I hear it’s fun 🙂

    Reply
  120. Thanks for the smiles! I invite you and your readers to join me at http://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com. If they love your material, they’ll at least give me an “E” for effort! Here I insert a “linguistic” smiley face because I refuse to use punctuation marks for other than their intended purpose!

    J.

    Reply
  121. i hate when that happens! there’s this great cafe in des moines, iowa called “la mie”. i’ve heard people refer to it as “lay-mee”, “lah-mee”, “lah-my”…who knows. what i can say is that they have the best pastries in the land. and it’s fun to say “lay-mee”…double meaning. i bust it out when my mind is in the gutter. anyway, great story and i can so relate!
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

    Reply
  122. i recently started using their shea butter hand cream and had no idea how to pronounce the name either. now i know. thanks for the post!

    Reply
  123. Very funny post!! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  124. Cute post and very entertaining.

    Reply
  125. haha, very cute, but so true. I get a kick when people mispronounce various Italian foods, such as mozzerella. Italians say it as MOOT-SA-RELLLLLLA, but I’ve heard it called MATZA-RELLA, and laughed. What can we do?

    val
    htttp://valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

    Reply
  126. Interesting post, i can totally relate to it. There’s this german store i cant pronounce. Suprisingly though, i had no problem with this particular one.

    My Blog: mindlesslog.wordpress.com

    Reply
  127. LOL, this is a cute post, well deserved as Freshly Pressed 🙂 Bravo Ma’dam!

    Reply
  128. Youtube really does have everything.

    Reply
  129. Very funny. Glad I ran into you as I butchered this name too 😉

    Reply
  130. I just discovered that store yesterday, and I nearly had the pronunciation right the first time! I said lox-ee-tayne instead of lox-ee-tahn. Then again, I’ve been taking French for the last two years, so I had a bit of a leg up.

    Reply
  131. Thanks for adding the video; friends have told me the french love to snicker when Americans cannot pronounce the french language…

    Reply
  132. great post, it’s too bad the phone call to the store didn’t work, but thank goodness for the video! i’ve passed the store several times and wondered exactly how to pronounce the name 🙂

    Reply
    • The phone call to the store was a long shot since we weren’t sure how they would answer the phone. The video and our French speaking colleague was definitely the better way to go. So glad Good Humored could entertain and educate you. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  133. If you’re not in marketing, you’ve missed your calling. I must have said the name of the shop at least ten times (right, by the way, but then again, I’m working with French people on a day to day basis). And you made me smile.

    Reply
  134. Great post ! Now I give you 2 new challenges: BOUILLOIRE (kettle) and haute-couture designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.
    Greetings from a French reader !

    Reply
  135. At least you tried to figure it out. I’ve been calling it Low Octane. Thought it had something to do with gas…

    Reply
  136. So French, really nice name – loved your post !

    🙂 Monica

    Reply
  137. I am not aquainted with the store but having read your wonderful story and of the scents available there I would pronounce it “ROSE”

    Reply
    • Their products are fabulous. I like to use the lavender hand cream in the winter because it reminds me of how my hands smell in the summer when I come in from working in the garden. It’s the only hand cream I’ve ever found that actually smells like real lavender. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  138. Locky-tahn!

    It’s not French, it’s … occitane! A dialect … or, some say, a separate language, spoken in the South of France.

    Reply
  139. Haha, hilarious. There is so many things we don’t even consciously pronounce in our heads when we read and then when we try, well, that video says it all. Great post!

    http://www.saracardoza.wordpress.com

    Reply
  140. Yes, I live in france and two C’s = X, the french pronounce the letter i as an english ee, and it would only be tanee at the end if there it was spelt tané with an accent on the e.
    Hope that helps!

    Reply
  141. Hahahaha…. Frankly… this is hilarious… All this while I thought that I was the only one bloody stupid fella in this world who do not know how to pronounce this word… What a French… By the way they do have great products.

    Reply
  142. Laurence of Persia

    Here’s where the name comes from :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occitan_language

    I know this because I’m French.
    One mystery solved for you guys!

    Happy New Year to all WordPress staff and users.

    Reply
  143. My fav place to go to lunch is Pret a Manger…only I can never say it to anyone. I’ve asked a few french people to teach me and I’m never going to get it right. 😦 Maybe I should just tell people that, like Jared, I go to Subway everyday.

    Reply
    • I would mangle the name of that restaurant, too. What I have discovered is that it doesn’t really matter if you are pronouncing it wrong, as long as the person you are speaking to also pronounces it wrong and understands you. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply
  144. Which why Saks, WalMart and Kohls win. Easy-peasy.

    Now, pronounce Sotheby’s.

    Reply
  145. While calling L’Occitane’s customer service a few years ago, I discovered–much to my chagrin–that I had been saying it wrong for many years. Thanks for a great post!

    Reply
  146. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Reply
  147. That’s hilarious!
    Now you should do an experiment with ‘Au bon pain’ 😉

    Reply
    • Good point! I have no idea how to pronounce that bakery’s name correctly either. I can manage the first two words and fake the last one. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
      • I know how to say it, and I was just about to type it here, but I realized that I’ve known French for too long and hence would just type something idiotic like, “You pronounce it like this: au bon pain.” Ah, the vagaries of a near-native language learned young …

        I also didn’t realize that there was any obscurity about how to say L’Occitane, either. Oh, well.

      • I suppose this whole post is quite absurd to anyone who can actually read French. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      • Well, it IS neat to realize how un-evident this all is. I can definitely see how French is confusing, though — you can have about six words all said exactly the same way. At least with Italian, it’s more one-to-one.

        And it’s LOTS better than English, with a many-to-many mapping of spelling vs. pronunciation. I remember an Argentine officemate I had in grad school once who was gobsmacked to learn that Americans competed to spell words.

      • English is a terrible language to have to learn to spell. There are so many rules that have even more exceptions and don’t even get me started on silent letters. By the way, I love the word gobsmacked. It really just captures the essence of what it means. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  148. Oh – so close. I’ve been in French for five years, but I was guessing L’ose-ee- ten, not l’ox-ee-ten.

    Reply
    • You got much closer than I ever did with my five years of Spanish. I didn’t have a chance at pronouncing it properly. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. Hope you’ll be back again soon.

      Reply
  149. Thanks for clearing that up. I will be practicing my French accent all night.

    Reply
  150. This was funny – and what is wrong with ‘Italianizing’ the word.

    Reply
  151. I’m so glad that you used my idea for the title. Your title ideas are always so perfectly chosen, so I feel great that you chose one of mine. If you’re good, I may be visiting LAH-OC-SIH-TAYNE for one of your Hanukkah gifts. Yes, I prefer to say the name this way, even though it’s wrong.

    Reply
  152. I laughed like crazy reading this because I had all those conversations in my head every time I passed that store! So glad you were able to solve the mystery!
    All the best,
    Lexi-with-a-tan

    Reply
  153. Maybe it needs to become more of a household name. For instance, Häagen-Dazs rolls right off my kids tongues. (and then it rolls back in again) 😉

    Reply
  154. Mr. Preston would be pround….I had it right after all these years! :0)

    Reply
  155. LOL!!! How funny is that?! So fun to read this blog!!! xox

    Reply
  156. How about this one? For many years, I had a client called Occhiale da Sole. Even the employees had trouble pronouncing it correctly. Here’s a clue – the product is sunglasses and the language is Italian.

    Reply
  157. LOL! I love that store! The hand cream is like an addictive drug to me especially in the winter months!

    Reply
  158. It is a derivative of high Octane French petrol….the “i” is silent !!!

    Reply
  159. L’Occitane? That’s easy. What’s “verbena”?

    Reply
  160. I stand by my decision to call it
    lo-key-taan-ey. You are too funny Paps.

    Reply
  161. They dont have curtis verbena, but they have a delicious ginger spritz.:)

    Reply
  162. Next time go to Origins. It is easier to pronounce 🙂

    Reply
  163. Did a lot of work for L’Occitane Comp.(nice people). Apparently I never pronounced the name correctly, but no one ever corrected me. Now I feel like OH WELL! Thanks for the lesson.

    Reply
  164. Citrus Verbena! It’s worth trying to say the name of the store.

    Reply
  165. There is a women’s clothing store near where I live. The name of the store is so crazy that they actually spell the name phonetically under the store name on their big sign. OK,if you have to do that, you need to change the name of the store! What were they thinking?

    Reply
    • After I wrote this post the other day, my husband showed me a leaflet he picked up in the store and under L’Occitane was the phonetic pronunciation. I guess that’s a new trend in marketing. Maybe it builds mystery and interest in the store.

      Reply
  166. Which is why we shop at ‘Le Targzay’ (Target).

    Reply

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