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Pronouncing historical names

Discussion in 'World History' started by Kryten, Oct 11, 2003.

  1. Kryten

    Kryten Smeee heeeeed

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    After extensive watching of both the History & Discovery channel on TV, I have begun to notice that certain narrators are pronouncing historical names differently.
    So I wonder how others pronounce some of the following:-

    * The city of Byzantium, and the Byzantine Empire.
    I always pronounce these as: Bye-zan-Tee-um and Bye-zan-Tine.
    But I've heard them called: Biz-en-Tee-em and Bizen-Teen.
    (Personally, I HATE the sound of "Bizen-Teen")

    * Another is Phoenicia and Phoenician.
    I always say: Fo-niece-ee-a and Fo-niece-ee-an.
    But some say: Fen-ish-ee-a and Fen-ish-ee-an.

    * However, I do have trouble with Boii (a Gallic tribe in North Italy).
    Is it pronounced: Bo-ee-eye?
    Or should it be: Bo-eye-ee?
    Likewise with the Etruscan city of Veii (captured by the early Romans in 396BC).
    Is it: Ve-ee-eye?
    Or: Ve-eye-ee?
     
  2. Aphex_Twin

    Aphex_Twin Evergreen

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    I thought Byzantium was pronounced Bi-zan'-tzi-um, with the 'i' sounding like the english 'ee', but short...

    There is quite a difference between an English pronounciation of Latin and the actual pronunciation of the Romans.
     
  3. Gingerbread Man

    Gingerbread Man Dark Magus

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    I am also begging for info on how to pronounce Aztec names. Anything out there that tells you how?
     
  4. pawpaw

    pawpaw Now Farve-Proof

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    it's easy, you stuff your mouth full of bannana peels and then sit on a tack and in one bust words like huitzilopochtli and quetzaliontl come shooting out
     
  5. mrtn

    mrtn Shaven not stirred

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    Well, do you want the pronounciations in English or Swedish? I pronounce Byzantium different, depending on language. In English it's ByzAntzium and ByzanTeen. Swedish ByzAntium (no hissing). Very short y:s in all.
    Veii and Boii I just pronounce Veiiiiiiiii and Boiiiiiiiiiiii. ;)
     
  6. Loaf Warden

    Loaf Warden (no party affiliation)

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    And even for English pronunciations, you have to consider the nation of origin of the speaker. I understand that the pronunciation 'bigh-ZAN-tign' is more common in the UK. In America, the most accepted pronunciation is 'BIZ-zen-TEEN.' It's the pronunciation I personally use, and it's the only one I've ever heard from fellow Americans.

    I tend to say Phoenicia as 'fen-EESH-uh'. A pronunciation like 'fo-NEES-ee-uh' would probably be best suited for British speech, but it would sound horribly out of place if said amid American speech.

    As for Aztec names, the only thing I know for sure is that the 'tl' combination functioned as a single consonant, with no vowel sound of any kind in between. That's tricky for mouths more accustomed to European languages, which is why that combination was dropped when we started importing Nahuatl words like tomato (tomatl) and chocolate (chocolatl).

    I believe Nahuatl (the name of the Aztec language) is pronounced something like 'na-WA-tl', but I could be mistaken. I personally tend to procounce Huitzilopochtli as something like 'WIT-zill-oh-POACH-tli', but I have no idea if this is justified. Notice the English distribution of stress; I don't know how stress is usually distributed in Nahuatl. I also don't know if the Nahuatl 'Z', for example, or 'CH', make the sounds we would expect. I've heard Tenochtitlan pronounced as 'TEN-osh-teet-LAN' recently, but far more common is 'TEN-ock-TEET-lan'. Obviously neither is the way a real Aztec would say it; notice that both pronunciations split up the T and the L. However the rest of the word is supposed to be pronounced, I'm sure the final syllable consists of 'tlan'.
     
  7. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    for me

    Veii- Vae (this is an important one for me, its the defacto home town of my fathers side of the familly, after Rome, of course... ;))

    Byzantium- Bi-zan-ti-um
     
  8. Achinz

    Achinz Hermit of Huangshan

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    Somehow through the Internet with the emphasis on the visual medium, pronunciation doesn't seem so important to me.

    There is also the transliteration factor when a famous name is used in a non-native language. A well know example is Quixote pronounced "Kwisoat" in English cf it's Spanish approximate of "Kihoteh".

    There is also the tendency for Europeans particulary the English to put their system of emphais to Asian names eg Hiroshima with a strong accent on the second syllable is alien to the more evenly stressed Japanese pronunciation.
     
  9. Mongoloid Cow

    Mongoloid Cow Great Khan

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    Me, I say:

    Byzantium: By - Zan - Ti - Um
    Byzantine: Biz - An - Teen (don't know why I change it)
    Phoenicia: Foe - Nee - Sha
    Phoenician: Foe - Nee - Shan
    Veii: Vay
    Boii: Boy
     
  10. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    They're all dead so if I misspronounce them whats gonna happen?

    A whole lot of nothing, that's what! :crazyeye:

    Warned, for posting inanely in a serious thread. - XIII
     
  11. Kafka2

    Kafka2 Whale-raping abomination

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    So do you pronounce "phoenix" as "Foe-nix"?
     
  12. Kryten

    Kryten Smeee heeeeed

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    Good point Kafka. :)
    Using 'phonetic' spelling:-
    Phoenix is universally pronounced as: Fee-nix
    Therefore Phoenicia should be: Fee-nee-shee-a

    Here is another one:-
    How do people pronounce Darius, the last Achaemenid (!) king of Persia, defeated by Alexander the Great?
    Is it: Da-rye-us
    Or: Da-ree-us

    :lol:
    But you are missing the whole point of 'immortality' Per-fec-TEE-on. :D
     
  13. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    I say "Dar-ee-us"...I got the pronounciation after watchin gthat one show, "Daria" on MTV a while back...
     
  14. Loaf Warden

    Loaf Warden (no party affiliation)

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    Not really. For one thing, English isn't a phonetic language. So insisting that a given word "should" be pronounced a certain way simply because some other word is pronounced a certain way is generally a fallacious argument in this language. For another thing, the distribution of stress is different. In 'phoenix', the stress falls upon the syllable with the 'oe' in it: 'FEE-nix'. In 'Phoenicia', it falls upon a syllable without: 'fuh-NEESH-uh' (or 'fo-NEES-ee-uh' on the east side of the Pond; there are probably other accepted variants as well). It's a perfectly natural thing in English for a vowel in an unstressed position to become a schwa. While a pronunciation like 'fee-NEESH-uh' or 'fee-NEES-ee-uh' is possible, it certainly sounds odd and would seem a trifle didactic.

    As for Darius, I personally pronounce it 'duh-RYE-us' simply because with a pronunciation like 'duh-REE-us' or 'DARE-ee-us', the pun in Isaac Asimov's Murder at the ABA wouldn't work. :D
     
  15. Mongoloid Cow

    Mongoloid Cow Great Khan

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    I say Da - Ree - Us.

    What about 'Artaxerxes'?

    Art - A - Zer - Sees - Is that anything close to right?
     
  16. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    dunno, doubt anybody sept he knows for sure :p

    I've always said somthing along the lines of

    ar-ta-zercks-zeez
     
  17. Chieftess

    Chieftess Moderator Retired Moderator

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    You missed Ehecatl Atzin when he was in the Civ3 demogame. :p Don't know if he's still around though.

    I do know that the 'hau' is pronounced 'wa' (as in Chihuahua) and "tl" is like "tle" (as in cattle).

    Pronounciation of Nahautl (Aztec language) names:

    http://mrburnett.mine.nu/GCII/U1/outside/aztec/a-res22.html
    http://www.quetzalcoatl.org/terminology.html
    http://www.sil.org/mexico/nahuatl/24i-OrthographyNah.htm
    http://www.zihua-ixtapa.com/~anotherday/2002_2003/dec/nahuatl2.html <-- Notice that we are all pronouncing Mexico wrong. :)

    Pronounciation of Mayan (only because they're going to be in Civ3 Conquests):
    http://www.mythome.org/mayanames.html

    (Couldn't find much on Incan pronouciation).
     
  18. MCdread

    MCdread Couldn't she get drowned?

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    I think english native speakers have an added problem in pronouncing historical or foreign names because of the vowels, particulary the letter "i". You normally pronounce it as in eye, but it normally is pronounced as "ee". At least I don't know any other language that has the sounds of the vowels so messed up as english has. ;)
     
  19. Loaf Warden

    Loaf Warden (no party affiliation)

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    Which is a point. The Great Vowel Shift moved the vowels to different positions in our mouths and made it so English is, to non-speakers, a very strange-sounding language. Of course Darius himself never called himself 'duh-RYE-us' . . . but then again, he never called himself 'duh-REE-us' or 'DAIR-ee-us', either. In his time and language, I believe he was something like "Darayavahush". But I'm going to continue spelling his name Darius and pronouncing it 'duh-RYE-us' because that's become standard in English, and English is the language I generally use to talk about him. (What he's called in Japanese, the other language I have a functional competence in, I'm not sure. Oddly enough, he's never come up in my Japanese conversations. Obviously if he did come up, I'd use whatever name it is the Japanese give him, with whatever pronunciation comes with it.)
     
  20. Kryten

    Kryten Smeee heeeeed

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    Yes, you are quite right Loaf Warden.
    The name of the Persian king defeated by Alexander did actually sound more like 'Daryavaush'....but you've got to admit, it is a bit of a mouthfull, so the Greeks called him 'Darius' or 'Dareios' instead, which is much easier.
    Likewise, we today use words such as Cassander, Epirus, Philip, Alexander and Ptolemy instead of the more accurate Kassandros, Epeiros, Philippos, Alexandros and Ptolemaios.
    (Well, if the Greeks can change peoples names, then why can't we. :D )

    As for 'Artaxerxes', I use roughly the same pronounciation as both Mongoloid Cow & Xen:-
    Art-a-zerc-sees
    (but I have no idea if it is right or wrong of course)

    Here's another one that gives me trouble: Antiochus (the name of several kings of Macedonian Syria):-
    An-tee-oh-cus perhaps?

    Yes, you are probably right Mcdread....but what do you do with names like Boii? :crazyeye:
    Bo-ee-ee maybe?
     

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