Taco Bell

07.28.2014 § Leave a comment

I finally realized why it bothers me so much when people pronounce “Taco Bell” with the stress on the word ‘Taco’ rather than ‘Bell.’

And a ton of people do this! I haven’t determined whether it’s a regional thing or what.

So consider “beef jerky.” Which word do you stress: ‘beef’, or ‘jerky’? If you’re like me, it’s ‘jerky’. And I believe it is for a similar reason to the one for which I find it intuitive to stress ‘Bell’ in “Taco Bell”.

Here’s that reason: you should stress the word which more uniquely defines what you’re referring to.

Suppose you ask someone, “Would you like some beef jerky?” If you were forced to choose one word or the other, I expect you’d choose ‘jerky’ over ‘beef’ to better get your meaning across. Only one popular form of jerky exists, and that is the beef kind, so there’s a much lower likelihood of intent mismatching than if you asked if the person wanted beef. So if you stress BEEF, you imply the question, “What other kinds of jerky do you have?” whereas if you stress JERKY all you’re doing is choosing to preserve the conventional yet granted adjective.

Now if you say “Let’s go to TACO Bell,” you’re essentially saying, “Let’s go to the bell — in particular, the taco one.” This is less accurate than saying, “Let’s go to Taco BELL,” in which case you’re essentially saying, “Let’s go for tacos — in particular, the ones at the bell.” One could argue that the former might be accurate, however, you could only get away with that in a world where bells where generally places to get things, i.e. there would also be a Burger Bell, Pizza Bell, and bells for non-comestibles as well such as Game Bell, Radio Bell, or Sunglass Bell.

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