Yesterday, in the course of my wedding planning, I stopped by Jean-Marc Chatellier's Bakery to reserve my date. I must vent a frustration that I have--not with the pastries, which are absolutely divine--but with the staff in the place, save the owner (who is obviously French, which means he would never have a negative place in this blog).
When I called to make my appointment, a girl answered the phone. This girl sounded very young (about 15 or so) and, as I imagine, is the sort of girl who signed up for French Club at her high school just to have one more thing to bolster her sagging application for college admission. She is the type of girl who would ask her teacher, after having taken four beleagured years of French, 'What does 'être' (prounounced "EH-truh", of course) mean again?', while absent-mindedly fiddling with a fluffy, feathery pink pen. She seems like the type who would pronounce 'Amélie' as 'Emily' and would try to get extra credit by bringing in empty Orangina bottles or postcards of 'La Joconde'.
What made me jump to this vivid mental image, you ask? Simple: she answered the phone "Shuh-TELL-yay's Bakery". First of all, the accented syllable should be the last one. Even on the bakery's website, they instruct people to prounounce the name with the accent on the second syllable. I am willing to bet a great deal of money that Jean-Marc did not mastermind said website, since he seems to be the sort of fellow who would rather be in the back of the shop, covered in flour and pounding the bejeezes out of a hunk of dough, than running the business end of things. So that leaves the staff, and they certainly don't seem to show any French orthographic (or lingual) dexterity, at least by my humble observation.
Why not answer the phone with the charming "Boulangerie" or "Pâtisserie Chatellier"? People (and yes, even the supposedly backwater, unsophisticated yokels of Pittsburgh) have enough sense to recognize that they may be greeted in French when calling a French bakery. The chef at Casablanca Bistro answers in French (partly, I think, because he gets confused about what country he is in--I can definately vouch for the Pavlovian effect that ringing phones and their subsequent greetings have after extended periods of time), so why not the bakery counter gals?
In short, YOU ARE WORKING IN A FRENCH BAKERY WITH AN HONEST-TO-GOODNESS FRENCHMAN. FOR JEANNE D'ARC'S SAKE, ASK HIM HOW TO PRONOUNCE HIS FREAKIN' NAME ALREADY!!!
[sigh] Croissant, anyone?