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Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

"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 tomato /təˈmtə/ / And I like tomahto /təˈmɑːtə/" and other verses comparing their different regional dialects.

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.[2] 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."[3]

The song was ranked No. 34 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.[4]

Notable recordingsEdit

The song has been re-used in filmmaking and television production, most notably in When Harry Met Sally... – where it is performed by Harry Connick, Jr. – and The Simpsons. It was featured in the 2012 Broadway Musical Nice Work If You Can Get It.


  1. ^ "Shall We Dance". 7 May 1937 – via IMDb. 
  2. ^ Flexner, Stuart Berg (1982). Listening to America: an illustrated history of words and phrases from our lively and splendid past. Simon and Schuster. p. 511. 
  3. ^ Dunkling, Leslie (1990). A dictionary of epithets and terms of address. Routledge. p. 86. 
  4. ^ "America's Greatest Music in the Movies" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  5. ^ "Astaire on 78". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  6. ^ "Ella Fitzgerald Discography – Part 2 – The Verve Years part 1". Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  7. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved December 8, 2017. 

External linksEdit