The Great “Au Bon Pain” Pronunciation Adventure at DFW Airport!


By Larry Billinger

A Morning at DFW

Travel really does open your eyes – to new cultures, delicious food, and… the sometimes tricky pronunciations of certain café names. On one memorable morning at DFW Airport, before jetting back to China, Jess and I encountered just such a situation.

Lost in Translation

We thought, “Why not try out this interestingly named café, ‘Au Bon Pain’?” In our true American spirit, Jess and I ventured to pronounce it as “Ah Bon Pain.” It seemed right, given the spelling. I’m sure we weren’t “Frenching” the word up quite enough, but we got the gist. But soon, a twist awaited us.

A French Lesson Unplanned

Subsequently, I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I recall Jess striking up a conversation with a genuine French gentleman. As she told him about our “Oh Bon Pain” experience, a cloud of confusion darkened his face. Puzzled, he said, “Ah Bon Pain? Never heard of it.” Yet, after a moment of realization, understanding that she was attempting the name “Au Bon Pain”, he couldn’t resist offering a quick French correction… or rather, a pronunciation lesson. To our surprise, what we believed was a straightforward name morphed into the more eloquent “ohbapaaawwwwww”. At least, that’s the best way we could describe his pronunciation.

A Handy Guide for the Rest of Us

Okay, so that’s not really how you pronounce it, but to us that’s what it sounded like. It’s actually pronounced “oh bawn pan”.

  • “oh” rhymes with “go”
  • “bawn” rhymes with “yawn”
  • “pan” is pronounced like the English word “pan”, but with a nasalized ‘n’ at the end (typical of French pronunciation).

For those who prefer a more visual lesson, there’s this engaging YouTube video, “How to Pronounce Au Bon Pain? (CORRECTLY)”. Learn from a bona fide Frenchman, and soon you’ll pronounce it like a pro!

Did You Know?

Here’s a fun fact: Originating from Boston, “Au Bon Pain” translates to “at the good bread”. Many Americans might give it their own twist, but the authentic pronunciation undeniably has its own unique charm.

Parting Words

In conclusion, the next time you come across an “Au Ban Pain” joint, remember our little story and proudly flaunt your impeccable pronunciation. And if a friend mispronounces it? Share our tale, enjoy a hearty laugh, and embark on a new adventure. Here’s to more journeys, amusing mix-ups, and safe travels, fellow explorers!

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