Category Archives: pronunciation tips

Pronunciation tip: hegemony

There’s probably not a person who knows this word who wasn’t confused about the pronunciation the first time they saw it. It’s OK, though: there are many different accepted and established pronunciations. But there is one that, in my experience, is more reliable than the others. Here’s a bit of talk-head-gemony to lay it down for you.

Pronunciation tip: Turandot

There are, probably unsurprisingly, many people who are unsure how to pronounce the name of the opera Turandot (and its title character). There are also, also (alas) unsurprisingly, people with very strong opinions on the subject, and they don’t all agree. So it’s my turn with the facts. No one sleeps until we sort this out!

Pronunciation tip: Banff

Over the holidays I was in Banff, where I spent an important part of my formative years, and I thought I should do a pronunciation tip. What did I choose? WapitiNorquay? Kootenay? Mount Lefroy? Nope, something trickier: Banff.

Oh, you know how to say “Banff.” You do! No one gets it wrong, unless they’re doing it on purpose or don’t speak English comfortably. But the odds are very good that you don’t know how you’re actually saying it. Guess what: This is really a phonology tip!

Oktoberfest pronunciation tip

Yes, of course you can say “Oktoberfest,” and however you say it is going to be close enough, especially if you’re holding a stein or two. But how about Weltschmerz, Zeitgeist, Weltanschauung, Schadenfreude, Götterdämmerung, Wunderkind, gemütlich, Weissbier, and dunkel? (By the way, nouns are compulsorily capitalized in German, but adjectives aren’t.) Watch my latest video to find out!

Pronunciation tip: Southern Tier

I was in the Southern Tier of Western New York this past weekend – that’s where a lot of my ancestors over the past century and a half lived. You may wonder why you should care; the answer is that it’s really beautiful there. And it’s a big area, three times the size of Rhode Island. Most of the place names there aren’t too difficult to figure out (Portville, Jamestown, Dunkirk), but there are a few that might trip you up. So here’s a run-down of 16 of them that you might like to know before you go.

Pronunciation tip: Einojuhani Rautavaara and Arvo Pärt

In my latest pronunciation tip I look at why we’re so needlessly skittish about Finnish and Estonian names, and I illustrate with the names of two composers (of the hear-them-on-CBC-radio variety). The scary long one isn’t the hard part.

Pronunciation tip: Champagne houses

For this week’s pronunciation tip, I’m talking about the perfect breakfast beverage: Champagne. Here’s how to say the names of several of the great houses in Champagne: Taittinger, Moët et Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Bollinger, Billecart-Salmon, Drappier, Nicolas Feuillatte, Henriot, Jacquart, Jacquesson, Krug, Lanson, Laurent-Perrier, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin; also Reims, Épernay, and Dizy.

Oh – and if you’re thinking about visiting Champagne (or just want to know what it’s like), I have 21 tips for you.