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22 January 2011

This is a pronunciation thread: I have been pronouncing the word 'Himalayas" as him.a.LAY.ahs for 50 years. [More:] The other day, I heard it pronounced on TV as him.AHL.ay.ahs. So which is it?

Also, what other words are you unsure of pronunciation or hear pronounced wrongly all the time?
I say it the way you say it but am curious if I've been wrong all this time.
posted by jessamyn 22 January | 18:36
I think both are acceptable.
posted by Obscure Reference 22 January | 18:37
These guys say it the first way.
posted by Obscure Reference 22 January | 18:39
I've recently started pronouncing "oregano" as, after watching a lot of Nigella Lawson. It's just more fun to say it that way.
posted by Atom Eyes 22 January | 18:46
I used to say meh tral valve, but I was told to say it My tral valve.
posted by apoch 22 January | 18:51
care-ah-BEE-an or cah-RIB-bee-an?

I say it the first way but I don't know if that's right. I do know that it's warmer there than it is where I am in Hunting Valley, Ohio .. current temp, 10 degrees.

posted by Kangaroo 22 January | 18:53
I can't get Prius right. PRY-us. So I guess it's a good thing we didn't get one.
posted by galadriel 22 January | 18:56
Er... hem.a.LAY.ahs?

Also, CARE-a-mel! *angry panda face*
posted by moonshine 22 January | 18:59
Sometimes I pronounce aluminum like a Brit, because I think it sounds cooler (a-loo-MIN-ee-um). They appear to be adding an extra vowel sound, but since they originated the English language, I am not going to quibble with them.

I pronounced Goethe wrong for an embarrassingly long time. Also Seurat. No, wait! I just googled Seurat and I was pronouncing it correctly when some ignorant person corrected me!
posted by jeoc 22 January | 19:01
posted by Obscure Reference 22 January | 19:17
There is a Goethe street in Chicago; the bus drivers invariable pronounce it Go.THEE street. It made me want to scream every time I rode the bus. (German is my second language, and I can't unhear those pronunciations, ever.)
posted by pjern 22 January | 19:19
I say "hi-MAH-lee-ahs" because I like confusing people.
posted by Joe Beese 22 January | 19:22
can't a loop, eh? is one of my favorite fruit/vegetable mispronunciations
posted by apoch 22 January | 19:52
When I lived in New Orleans, I received an education from a local about my mispronounciation of pecan, pralines, and buffet. I said pu-CON, PRAY-leen, and buff-A. She said it was supposed to be PEE-can, PRAW-leen, and BOOF-aye. Don't know which is right-maybe it's regional? And I still switch back and forth willy nilly when I'm not thinking about it. Also-what's up with the creek and crick thing? I have recently heard people around here (midwest) say crick-as in a stream of water. WTF? It's creek, right?
posted by supercapitalist 22 January | 19:58
There's not a trace of French in the way I pronounce "ennui". Probably my worst word.
posted by ufez 22 January | 19:59
Heard an older nurse pronounce uterus as "YOU-tris" over and over one day. It got really funny eventually.

Along the same lines, I had a professor in uni who managed to make the inhabitants of Guatemala sounds a lot like "watermelons", which over the course of a lecture, can become unbearably funny!
posted by richat 22 January | 20:01
She said it was supposed to be PEE-can, PRAW-leen, and BOOF-aye

My 8th-grade English teacher (an aggressively genteel fellow with a sometimes-heavy West Texas accent) memorably insisted that the nut is (more or less as you say) a puh-cahn and that a PEEcan is something you keep under the bed so you don't have to walk to the outhouse at night.

That said, the New Orleans accent has a long history of labyrinthian twists and turns, and I long ago gave up trying to sort out its peculiarities.
posted by Elsa 22 January | 21:20
Jeoc, I think they spell it that way too. Aluminium.

Here, it's PRAH-leen and PEE-cahn. (N FL/S GA pronunciation)

Supercapitalist, I have roots in the Ozarks. "Crick" is the only appropriate way to pronounce the word spelled "creek." Don't worry too much about it. There are much worse tangles and abuses of the English language :)
posted by galadriel 22 January | 22:45
Good point Galadriel-I'm from Texas and have been arguing for years that "ya'll" is the perfect contraction and everyone is just bummed us Southerners came up with it first. So I'm good with regional dialects.

Now I am going to go chill out by the frozen "crick" behind my house!!! :)
posted by supercapitalist 22 January | 23:12
I say hi-ma-LAY-ahs, but I have a friend who spent a fair amount of time there who now says hi-MAHL-yas (and this friend is a multilingual linguist), so while I have not actually changed my pronunciation, I have figured that the second version is probably closer to the local pronunciation and I now feel hick-ish and American when I pronounce it the first way.
posted by occhiblu 22 January | 23:50
Also, yes, with "aluminium" being the British English spelling. I had a long-running argument with an English friend who kept saying, That's not just how we pronounce it, it's how it's spelled!
posted by occhiblu 22 January | 23:51
Also, yes, with "aluminium" being the British English correct spelling.

FTFY ;-)
posted by dg 23 January | 01:05
I think "Him-AH-lee-yas" sounds pretentious. I'm of the "Himma-Laya" school of pronunciation. I also say "ori-GAH-no", which is the English way of saying it.

It was only recently I realised that "segue" is pronounced "segway". I knew how to use the word properly in conversation (should the need ever arise, which it hardly ever did) but if I saw it written down, I just thought the writer was being lazy and using "segue" pronounced "seg" as a shortcut.
posted by Senyar 23 January | 05:15
I'm from India, and we pronounce it It's because it's Sanskrit, and can be broken down into it's component parts of hima (snow) and alaya (abode of). You can see more at the Wikipedia entry where, if you can read Devanagiri script, you'll see the vertical line between the mah and the luh consonants indicating an elongated aah sound. The same is true of Aryan, from the Sanskrit aarya.
posted by Lassie 23 January | 09:29
Him.a.LAY.ahs is the international (British, US etc) pronunciation. Indians pronounce it Actually in the original just, with no "s".

You don't need pronounce it Indian fashion any more than you are need to pronounce Paris "Parr-ee". Indians won't mind, and it's not likely that you are pronouncing any Indian place name or word of Indian origin the same way as in the original language anyway.

For what it's worth many British and US place names get pronounced differently by Indians in ways that come more naturally to them as well, even when they're speaking English.

posted by philipy 23 January | 11:56
Actually in the original just, with no "s".

Looking more closely at what I just wrote... "Him.AH.lya" is a better attempt to capture the pronounciation.
posted by philipy 23 January | 12:01

I am convinced that that's how it used to be pronounced, and that it's changed in recent years.

My east coast US dad calls Home Depot Home DEP-OH. I find it really pretentious.
posted by amro 23 January | 13:24
Prius isn't Pree-us? That's the only way I've heard it pronounced.
posted by deborah 23 January | 15:17
Prius isn't Pree-us? That's the only way I've heard it pronounced.

It is. I can't wrap my mouth around it, somehow.
posted by galadriel 23 January | 15:21
When I was a kid, I was helping my dad rehearse his lines on the way to rehearsal in the evenings. I don't remember the play, but the line I was reading had the word 'chaos' in it. I'd never seen it in print, so I pronounced it CHA ohs. Dad said, "Whaaat?" I said I didn't know that word & spelled it for him. "Oh! KAY oss."

He also called it Home DEP-oh, which drove me insane.
posted by chewatadistance 23 January | 18:23
Apologies, galadriel, had it turned it around.

My favourite mispronunciation is FRAH GEE LAY. Why, it must be French!
posted by deborah 23 January | 18:30
Diabeetus, cha cha cha! Diabeetus, cha cha cha!

My previous boyfriend before the mister always pronounced it like that (his mom was diabetic). He'd magically age 40 years before my eyes, as his mouth became inhabited by the spirit of Wilford Brimley.
posted by Madamina 23 January | 18:38
He also called it Home DEP-oh, which drove me insane.

Oh, oh! My dad did that too! I'd forgotten. What a nice memory.
posted by JanetLand 23 January | 19:31
I Really Can't || Please calm my anxieties.