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Post by Archived Topic » Sat Dec 04, 2004 9:53 am

Any thoughts about why 'cache' (as in 'a large cache of weapons was found in one of the buildings in Fallujah') is often mispronounced as CASH-A?
Submitted by Fred Johnson (Bellvue - Choose a Country)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:08 am

... because cache (kash) has a certain cachet (ka-shA)?

The two words look very similar and outside of computer hardware, cachet is more commonly used (at least among elderly ladies - no wait, that's sachet (sa-shA) - guess I'd better sashay out of here quick!)
Reply from Russ Cable (Dallas, TX - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:22 am

Fred, if I was not too old to allow all my buttons to be pressed by this kind of mispronunciation, I would be spending half my waking hours having apoplectic fits.

Essentially this one is due to the speaker mistaking one word of French origin for another similar one.

In English, 'cachet' (pronounced more or less as you indicated) means 'something that denotes or confers prestige'. It can also mean 'a [wax] seal'.

In French, in addition to these meanings 'cachet' can mean 'pill or tablet', as well as 'style or character'.

There is also the French verb 'cacher', pronounced the same as 'cachet', meaning 'to conceal or hide'. It is from this that the English word 'cache' (pronounced 'cash') is derived, with the French meanings of 'a hiding place for booty' and 'a mask as used in photography or to cover a section of text'. The English meaning of 'cache' is 'a hiding place for booty, provisions, ammunition etc.' or 'stores hidden in this way'.

Just to add to the possible confusion, there is a French adjective 'caché', which is also pronounced 'cash-A' and means 'hidden' or 'secluded'.

I hope this makes matters a little clearer.

While we are on the subject of common mispronunciations of French words and phrases, another one that I have heard from time to time that gets my neck hairs bristling is 'koo de grah' for 'coup de grâce' (meaning 'a finishing stroke or death blow'), which should be pronounced 'koo de grass' (guttural R and short A).
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:37 am

That's probably due to a confusion with "foie gras" (fwuh GRAH), literally fatty liver, a peculiar delicacy(?) made from the diseased and bloated livers of force-fed geese. I suppose the slaughter of these unfortunate fowl is the coup de gras...
Reply from Simon Beck (London - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:51 am

coop de geese?
R
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 11:05 am

Coincidentally, since this thread was first posted, the word 'cachet' was selected for the 2004-11-14 online Merriam-Webster 'Word of the Day'. Merriam-Webster gives the following supplementary description:

"In the years before the French Revolution, a "lettre de cachet" was a letter, signed by both the French king and another officer, that was used to authorize a person's imprisonment. Documents such as these were usually made official by being marked with a seal pressed into soft wax. This seal was known in French as a "cachet." This word derived from the Middle French verb "cacher," meaning "to press" or "to hide." The "seal" sense of "cachet" has been used in English since the mid-17th century, and in the 19th century it acquired its extended sense, that of a distinguishing mark that is used to identify something as being prestigious."
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 04, 2004 11:20 am

The Cache le Poudre River (‘cache’ as in cash and ‘poudre’ as in pooder) runs through my hometown of Ft. Collins. It was named for a cache of gunpowder that early French trappers buried near the river to lighten their load on the way to further destination.

Ken G – November 19, 2004

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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