Remember that verse from the song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" that goes
"You like 'Potato' and I like 'Potahto'
You like 'Tomato' and I like 'Tomahto'
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.
Let's call the whole thing off. "?
OK, maybe you're too young.
Well, there's a new version of this being sung every day in restaurants everywhere.
Diner: "While we're waiting, start us off with an order of broo-SKEH-tah."
Waiter: "Broo-SHET-ah. OK."
So the next place, you figure that you have finally learned how to say it:
Diner: "Could I have some broo-SHET-ah, please."
Waiter: "Sure. One broo-SKEH-tah. Anything else?"
Diner: "Do you have any REES-ling?"
Waiter: "We have a very nice RICE-ling from Elbonia."
You guessed it. Next time ...
Diner: "... and a glass of RICE-ling."
Waiter: "Was that REES-ling?"
So, here's the thing. They are pronounced 'broo-SKEH-tah' and 'REES-ling'.
In Italian, the "h" makes the consonant "c" or "g" hard when followed by an "e" or an "i". Otherwise they are soft. At least, that is what our Italian teacher told us last fall when my wife and I got inspired to learn Italian after coming back from Tuscany.
And in German, the "ie" combination is pronounced as a hard "e" and "ei" is pronounced as a hard "i". Or at least that is what my Grade Nine German teacher told me.
But more importantly, why do wait staff insist on correcting customers? I go to a restaurant to enjoy a pleasant meal in the company of friends, not for the free language lessons. What ever happened to "The customer is (almost) always right"? Or, at least not intentionally embarrassed.