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How do you pronounce “scallops”?

October 13, 2014

I love eating scallops, but I don’t like talking about them so much, because of uncertainty about pronunciation. Does the word rhyme with wallop? Or gallop?

Incidentally, I’m sure those two words, wallop and gallop, diverged from a common root. There’s a curious correspondence between w and g, in that they often head up pairs of closely related words: warden and guardian, warranty and guarantee, the name William and its French equivalent Guillaume. No idea of the reason for this, but wallop and gallop are close enough in meaning, both referring to vigorous action, to suggest they are part of this pattern.

But back to scallop. When I first met the word I assumed it rhymed with gallop. Then I heard people pronouncing it to rhyme with wallop, and they did so with such an air of authority that I followed suit. I wonder if this pronunciation comes from an association with the word collop, a small slice of meat? But then lately I’ve been hearing it pronounced the first way, and I’ve decided, I think, to revert to that. Scallops. Rhymes with gallops. I quite fancy some now, fried in butter and garlic, served with a rocket salad and crusty bread and a chilled bottle of white wine…

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