Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Say a-PEARN, You Say EEE-pern

As an English major and daughter of a woman who spoke incredibly precise English, it pains me to no end to hear people constantly mispronounce words even when they KNOW they're mispronouncing them.  And Webster's is no help, because they've apparently given up and now, if the word is mispronounced long enough and by enough people, then it magically becomes OK to mispronounce it.

Case in point, the word epergne.  In the world of antiques and glass, epergnes are pretty high up there in status of ownership and price.  I've owned and resold several and think they're absolutely gorgeous.  However, whenever anyone refers to them, at least in my neck of the woods (Deep South), they pronounce it "EEE-pern" like some hillbilly would if he even knew what in the heck an epergne WAS.  Everytime I hear it, it's like fingernails grating across a blackboard--I've even tried to very gently correct them but this is what I hear in return, "But that's how EVERYone says it!  EEEE-pern."  Oh, ok--with that line of thinking, if EVERYone says "F**k you" instead of "Hello", well, be prepared the next time I see you, folks.  Not that I wouldn't mind using the "F**k you" salutation if I ever ran into, say, Rick Perry . . .  

Sorry.  Had to say it.

An epergne is defined as a type of table centerpiece, usually made of silver, but may be made of any metal or glass or porcelain.  It has a large central bowl or basket sitting on three to five feet (or a base).  From this center bowl radiate branches supporting small baskets, dishes, candleholders, or "horns".  There may be from one to seven branches or horns.  Epergnes were traditionally made from silver, but from the start of the 20th century glass was also employed.  It may be used to hold any type of food or dessert and may also be used as a designer object to hold candles, flowers, ornaments for a holiday, etc.  They can also be used as a stand-alone decoration, as well.  The word "epergne" is probably from the French "epargne" meaning "saving", the idea being that dinner guests were saved the trouble of passing dishes.  However, an actual epergne in French is called a "surtout".  (Information courtesy of Wikipedia).

Here are some of my past and current epergnes.  I especially like the darling one horn epergnes.  All of mine have been made by Fenton Glass.

One horn chocolate Diamond Lace epergne.  The horn looks just like an ice cream cone!  This one's about the height of a soda can.

 Beautiful pink opalescent Diamond Lace one horn mini epergne with Snow Crest rim.

Much larger one horn epergne in seafoam green with a stretch horn.  The base has a "zipper" rim.  This was sold during Fenton's ill-fated time on QVC and has now been retired.  I purchased it at the Fenton Gift Shop. 

 Look!  The big blue opalescent hobnail three horn epergne had a baby!  

I've gotten some of my epergnes on eBay but they're getting way too expensive for me--as news gets out that Fenton is closing, I'm sure that most of their better glass will start going up in price.  

I did sell the chocolate epergne, but I think I'm going to hang on to the others for awhile and just enjoy their beauty.

Hope everyone's having a good week--I know the East Coast is watching Katia out there in the Atlantic, and we Gulf Coast residents even have something a-brewing, too.

Stay safe!


  1. I've never heard of an epergne! But I will join in your rant of mispronunciation, however it's probably not a good idea between US & UK people he he!

  2. I didn't know Fenton was closing!! Oh man, what will we do?

    I shore like yer eeepurns. Them's pretty!

  3. Man, Fenton is closing again?

    Regarding the pronunciation of "epergne" I hear EE-pearn a lot in southern Ohio. But e-PEARN here up north. I hate it, too.

    I also can't stand when someone describes a bedroom suite as "suit". Yes, I know it's one of the correct ways to say "suite", but I think I'll always prefer "sweet" to "suit". That "e"'s at the end for a reason!!

  4. Oh I agree with Funky Home Finds about the pronunciation of suite! I do say Apeern but hear the 'other' all the time as I also live in the south. Sigh....I also did not know that Fenton was closing. Makes me treasure my few pieces even more!
    Thanks for sharing your epergnes! They are so lovely.

  5. !*$@ you
    How are you today?
    I was saying Hello the Christine way.

    I saw one of these in a thrift store and left t because.. I didn't know what in the yoo hah it was?! And I was scared it might get broken.

    Now I know if I ever come across one again to purchase it I suppose.

  6. I've never heard of these until your blog, and so if someone said it wrong, I wouldn't have a clue lol. Well, yours are lovely. If Mom knew about these, she didn't let on. She loved beautiful glass things like yours.

    The only Fenton I have (I think it's Fenton) is that very common green glass antique shoe with the cat head at the shoe tongue. Yes, it was bought by Grandma, so I'm pretty sure it's not a knock off. But I'm also sure there are hundreds of them on eBay every week, so it won't be going up in price... boo.

  7. Yor EEEperns er bee-u-tee-ful. LOL

  8. f**k You,
    loved your post!!YOU MAKE ME LAUGH!!!!

  9. I dare you to tell the next person OFF who mispronounces epergne!
    This was a very informative post Christine and I WILL be keeping my eyes open for these I am sure I will be dreaming about the biggest and most beautiful epergnes ever!!!!
    And just between you and me, thanks for the VCOOTNPITW award! Now, back at cha!

  10. The comment about Rick Perry made me spit my wine out. You make me waste more good wine!! I think Rick Perry, Sarah, and Michelle ought to run off to Mexico for a menage a trois. "merica" would be a safer place. There...I said it, should I have commented anonymously??

  11. Hell, I thought you were talking about APRONs! Shows you what neck of the woods I fall into! lol

  12. I have to admit I'm a worse pronunciation snob than you Chris-I am a former teacher of English and French, so for me any French words can only be pronounced in French. EEE-pern sounds like something one has done in hospital!!
    Thanks for the info, I always love your lessons on glass.