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Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

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"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" is a song written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for the 1937 film Shall We Dance, where it was introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as part of a celebrated dance duet on roller skates.[1] The song is most famous for its “You like to-may-toes /təˈmeɪtoʊz/ and I like to-mah-toes /təˈmɑːtoʊz/” and other verses comparing their different regional dialects.[2]

The differences in pronunciation are not simply regional, however, but serve more specifically to identify class differences. At the time, typical American pronunciations were considered less "refined" by the upper-class, and there was a specific emphasis on the "broader" a sound.[3] This class distinction with respect to pronunciation has been retained in caricatures, especially in the theater, where the longer a pronunciation is most strongly associated with the word "darling."[4]

The song was ranked No. 34 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.

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