Dear South Florida, How Do You Pronounce Plantain?

Oct 12, 2016

Plantain. It’s a South Florida food staple. It’s green, it’s starchy and when cooked absolutely delicious.  No arguments there.

But how do you pronounce it?

I was going over a radio script with my editor Tom Hudson and when we got to the word he called it “plan-TAYNE,” rhymes with rain. I said,  “plan-TIN,” like inn.

I’ve always heard it pronounced both ways in Miami, but is there a “right" way?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary online lets you listen to the word’s pronunciation.  It has it both ways.

So I took the question to the people, and by people I mean my Facebook friends. And that’s when things got really interesting.

Niala Boodhoo with Illinois Public Media wrote it’s plan-TAYNE.  A few minutes later, she wrote she conferred with her Trinidadian parents in Homestead. “They are cracking up and saying only Trinis in Trinidad say "Plant-TIN'.”

McKenzie Fleurimond is Haitian-American and he wrote he is also team plan-TAYNE.

He even came through with examples. “Just think of the following words plain, attain, drain,” he wrote.

But then my girl Yovonna Madhère, a voice-over artist, implored Team TAYNE to consider the word fountain.

Carla Hill, a lover of Caribbean food and South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts outreach manager  is Never TAYNE. Plan-TIN all day.

For some, the back and forth was too much to handle.

Miami Herald city government reporter David Smiley: “People pronounce it PlanTIN???..... I need a minute to process this.”

One of the explanations offered is that people from the English speaking-Caribbean are more likely to say plan-TIN, though some of my African-American friends and one British friend said that's also how they pronounce the word.

The folks in my very unofficial poll were mostly Team TAYNE. Though Team TIN had a decent and passionate showing.

Ryan Pontier, a Miami Dade College professor and bilingualism expert, was the voice of reason (we all have that friend). "Depends on your dialect. Both work," he wrote.

And of course because many of my friends hail from Miami, they suggested I abandon the vexing English pronunciation question altogether and go with either platano in Spanish or in Creole, banan.

Tell us in the comment section, how do you pronounce plantain?