Let‘s Call The Whole Thing Off

Things have come to a pretty pass *
Our romance is growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that.

Goodness knows what the end will be
I don’t know where I’m at
It looks as if we two will never be one
Something must be done:

You say either* and I say either,
You say neither* and I say neither,
Either, either
Neither, neither
Let’s call the whole thing off *

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

But oh, if we call the whole thing off
Then we must part *
And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you like pyjamas and I like pyjahmas,
I’ll wear pyjamas and give up pyjahmas
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the whole thing off
Let’s call the whole thing off.

You say laughter and I say larfter
You say after and I say arfter
Laughter, larfter
After, arfter
Let’s call the whole thing off

I like Havana and I like Havahnah
I eat bananas and you eat banahnahs
Havana, Havahnah
Bananas, banahnahs
Let’s call the whole thing off

But oh if we call the whole thing of then we must part
And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you like oysters and I like ersters
I’ll take oysters and give up ersters
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off *,
Let’s call the whole thing off.

* either = /I: thər/ OR /AI thər/
neither =
/NI: thər/ OR /NAI thər/

Some people might tell you that /NI thər/ is used in American English while /NAI thər/ is used in the UK. However, both pronunciations are apparently used interchangeably among English speakers. It’s just a matter of preference.

_ Structure (negation: tampoco/non plus):
Either and neither mean tampoco/non plus. They are used in a similar way, to express similar ideas but the structure of the sentences is different.

With ‘either’, the verb is negative.
With ‘neither’, the verb is affirmative (or there is no verb).

_ I don’t like coffee.
I don’t (like coffee) either.
Neither do I.
Me neither.

_ Common mistake = ++ I don’t like coffee neither ++
NO NO NO!!! With a negative verb, use ‘either’ at the end of the sentence.

_ Common pronunciation mistake = ++ /EY thər/ – /NEY thər/ ++
NO! It’s /I: thər/ OR /AI thər/ but not /ey/

This song was written in 1937 by George and Ira Gershwin for the movie Shall we dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

As a kid, I first heard one of Gershwin’s works in… The Gremlins 2 – Rhapsody in Blue (after New York, New York just a few notes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybxJ6g5oVgY

Finally, my favourite version of Let’s call the whole thing off is the one performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIYS9EQWkXg