Tuesday, 3 April 2007

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Who exactly is in charge of pronunciations, these days? I’m on a drug called Methotraxate, but no one seems to pronounce it in the same way twice. I say Metho-trax-ate and the registrar at the hospital corrects me by calling it Me-tho-traxate

It’s not just the drugs either… I mean, when I was a kid, I called a certain plant-eating dinosaur a dip-lo-doe-cuss but it now transpires that this creature was, in fact, a dip-lodicus. Maybe it always was, of course, and I just invented my own way of saying it…


Anyway, it’s meaningless because these creatures were alive millions of years before anybody was talking Latin, so dinosaurs weren’t called anything - other than maybe ‘big-grey-thing-with-a-long-neck’ or ‘nasty-bugger-with-damn-great teeth’!

Even so, there's plenty of other examples such as the question mark over how to pronounce the name of the feisty Queen Boudicea... I distinctly remember her being Bo-der-seer and then, one day, she suddenly transmogrified into Boodicker just as Ancient Egypt's Man of Gold, Tutankhamun changed his name from Too-ten-car-men to Tooten-carmooooon

Now, it just so happens King Tut is due back in London later this year with the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. So, what's the betting he’ll turn up with yet another new name…?

14 comments:

David Weeks said...

I guess that "King Tut" will be called 'Toot'!
That's 'Far row' not a 'Fair row'
It's like those people who drop their 'H's at 'ighgate and don't pick them up again until they reach 'Hislington'

Cafrine said...

My younger brother has been on Methotraxate for many many years and we also say Metho-trax-ate, as does his doctor and the hospital staff.

Perhaps you have a little Aussie in you somewhere, Brian? :o)

Scrooge said...

Thinking about, I agree with you on all those pronunciations as they once were ! I wonder why the first person to decide to change them wasn't corrected on the absurdity of it and put back on the right track. If he/she had been, we wouldn't be in this mess ! Re the medical one, I've never come across it but pills usually have their scientific groups at the end.My preferred choice is the azole.My regular medication is called Pantaprazole and broken down like this - Pan- tapper - azole so I would guess your first pronunciation is the best one. Thus we find I have again worked in a smutty innuendo but this time perfectly legitimately in the name of Science. Fantastic !

Brian Sibley said...

GILL writes to say...

"My understanding of the name of the great Warrior Queen is that 'Boadicea' Latinises her name, and since she was provoked to war by Romans it was felt more appropriate to change her name to something more approaching Saxon or Old English or whatever it is!"

Thanks, Gill. That's that one solved!

Brian Sibley said...

ASTRID writes to say...

"Your blog today reminded me that I always have to re-think how to pronounce that marvellous plant called BOUGAINVILLEA
:-)"

Yes, well, Astrid, you CAN pronounce it bourgen-villyer but I think, strictly speaking, it should be pronounced like the Mexican revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa, as: bourgen-ve-er.

Riddley Walker said...

I think that I heard somewhere that Tutankhamun is going for a much more informal approach now, so you can just call him "Dave" if you get to see him, Brian.

I also remember the newscasters over here scrabbling around for a new way to say "Uranus" that didn't have people sniggering at its homophonic resemblance to "Your Anus". Has that one been abandoned now?

Brian Sibley said...

I think it's Your-in-us now - which sounds like some kind of store... So that's probably done for all those old gags about rings round Uranus.

Scrooge said...

I think old Patrick Moore used to say Urr-Inus which is another variant.I think this is a shame because generations of schoolchildren have lost the chance at some highly amusing variations on a theme.

Andy J. Latham said...

So what does all this make you, Brian?

...Bree-ayn Seeb-lay perhaps?


ps, glad you're on the mend!

Brian Sibley said...

ASTRID writes further on the subject of BOUGAINVILLEA to say...

"The Austrian people (more than the German I think) very often like to pronounce words in the way they believe it was done 'originally', so I often hear that French-sounding pronunciation -- oh, that's not easy in English, but maybe like this: boooganvill'e:a...
So, which one shall I take? ;-)"

Astrid, I'd say choose the one that people will THINK you've got right - regardless of whether it actually is or not!

Diva of Deception said...

Does the pronounciation 'bourgan - veer' means that in future we have to visit 'viyajes' in the countryside and chat to the viyajers who live there?

I'm sticking with Bode-a-see-a!

Now - back to those likes and dislikes....

Brian Sibley said...

I think that's a great idea, Diva - it would pep up 'The Archers', too...

Anonymous said...

I thought it was just me! Is there some international pronunciation body that sit around deciding that things have been pronounced the same way “for far too long” and are due a change??? My daughter is called Boudicea – pronounced “Bow-der-seer” and I am getting a bit sick of people continuously contradicting me. If we have a boy, I shall call him Uranus. …What? Oh, don’t tell me they have changed the pronunciation of that too!

Brian Sibley said...

Well, Anon, if you do have a boy please don't give him that moniker or the other kids will just run rings round him...