Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Pronouncing Ballet Namespet-EE-pah or PET-ee-pah


  • Please log in to reply
67 replies to this topic

#16 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:46 PM

Well, someone presenting an award should make sure s/he knows how to pronounce any names that might come up, IMO, but for the rest of us, unless we hear a name, we won't know how to pronounce it. (I wonder how many people in that audience, hearing Makarova's name for the first time, said, "Oh! THAT's how you say it! I'll have to remember that next time.")

One of my favorite mispronunciations was of a dancer with the Dutch National Ballet who substituted for someone else in New York; we were told that VAH day VAH tall would be dancing. Sounded Dutch to me. Nope, it's Wade Wathall, just the way you'd pronounce it in Texas, I learned years later.

#17 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 10 July 2003 - 07:02 PM

I agree, and I believe it is the responsibility of the staff to make sure that the speaker speaks accurately. This was a very modest man, a very kind man, not terribly interested in the arts, who accepted his ceremonial duties as bothersome necessities along the route of his Real Job of serving the public. Ari suggested he was vertically challenged, but I would assert that he was fiscally challenged. That it never occurred to him that the intuitive pronunciation was incorrect in a city full of Spanish- and Italian-named residents, well it was a gaffe, but an understandable gaffe from a well-intentioned, good human being.

#18 tango49

tango49

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 65 posts

Posted 11 July 2003 - 05:37 PM

Recently on a local T.V. special the news anchor was speaking with Fernando Bujones. She was talking to him for a about a minute and when she introduced him to the viewers she introduced him as Fernando Boo Whoo? nis :blink: ...with a very long Boo Whoonis at that. It was live and there was nothing he could do but :thumbsup:. :angry: :angry: :angry:

#19 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 11 July 2003 - 06:10 PM

Perhaps worse is the mnemonic (the memory aid) coming to the surface. This is not a ballet name post (except to say that he once said, "I don't usually cotton to that kinda dancing.) But President Jimmy Carter once was addressing his party's national convention, and ended a section of the speech with a long parade of famous party members' names, "Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Hubert Horatio...HORNBLOWER!" :thumbsup:

#20 Guest_alliecat93_*

Guest_alliecat93_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 13 July 2003 - 08:39 AM

I was just going to post something like this! I think it would be a great idea to make a sticky with a pronounciation guide. I was also wondering if you could give the correct pronounciation for some of these ballets:

Agon
Bugaku
Onegin
Tzigane
La Bayadere

#21 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 08:45 AM

We've started a sticky -- and we can keep adding to it. I think it would be helpful.

As for your list, my pronunciations are:

Agon -- A' gon (short A, like in "back"; although I've heard people pronounce it "ah-GON" to rhyme with "a loan". Supposedly this is the "authentic Greek" pronunciation, although my college Greek teacher taught us that there are at least five schools of "authentic" Greek pronunciation, since there's no one left who can verify it.)

Bugaku - Boo Gah Koo -- slight accent on the first syllable

Onegin -- Oh NYAY gen

Tzigane -- Zi GAN ah

La Bayadere -- La By ah dare

#22 K8smom

K8smom

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 11:03 AM

Well, how about the word "ballet" itself? In the US, I have always heard it pronounced ba LAY, but last week, I heard our local radio announcer, who is British, say BAL ay.

#23 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 11:36 AM

K8smom -- I think you've just pointed out the distinction! (As noted above, all of my pronunciations are of acceptable American usage; different countries pronounce things differently, and the way different countries pronounce words in other languages can vary quite a bit.) In American, it's pronounced bal LAY.

[editing to add]

There can be differences, though. If you're saying:

My daughter takes ballet -- bal LAY

I love ballet -- bal LAY

"Swan Lake" is my favorite ballet -- bal LAY

BUT if the word is in a name, it seems to me the word is pronounced flatly, with no real accent:

American Bal-lay Theater

Bal-lay Alert

Bal-lay Imperial

Perhaps this is determined by the rhythm of the surrounding words? Not being a linguist, I can't say.

Edited by Alexandra, 16 July 2003 - 08:21 AM.


#24 R S Edgecombe

R S Edgecombe

    Senior Member

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 163 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 12:02 PM

With regard to the pronunciation of Agon, it's worth pointing out that the O sound there is the omega (literally big O), as opposed to the omicron (literally small O). Scholarly convention, as it was passed on to me, requires that omegas are pronounced to rhyme with loan, and omicrons to rhyme with pot. Something similar applies to Latin quantities. I remember once saying " in MEEdias res" in a tutorial, and my lecturer corrected me by asking, "Would you walk down Picadilly, with a poppy or a lily in your mEEdieval hand???"

I think, Alexandra, that your pronunciation of ballet might reflect an east coast rather than a general habit in America. Many Americans tend to accent the last syllable in what French people would regard as even-syllabled words, as for example garAHge. I had to walk out of the film of The Chorus Line because I went to see to see it on a hot summer's day in a thin cotton shirt, and found Arctic temperatures prevailing inside the cinema. The management refused to adjust the thermostat, and so I had to exit to avoid hypothermia--but not before I had heard a song that went something like "At the ballAY, at the ballAY"!

#25 Hans

Hans

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,104 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 12:08 PM

As a general note on the pronunciation of French words, the accent is almost always on the last syllable. "Sucre" is an exception (but not "sucré"), and I'm sure there are others, but in general, it's ball-AY, pee-KAY, bat-MANH, &c.

#26 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 13 July 2003 - 01:01 PM

R.S., yes, in America the accent is on the last syllable in "garage" though not in "garbage," except as a joke. What is done in musical comedy does not necessarily reflect the accent of any country; it has to do with rhyme and meter. While there are, of course, regional differences/accents in America, "BAL lay" is not one of them. It's bal LAY here. And Hans's hint above is a helpful rule. We TRY to get close to the French pronunciation :devil:

A note -- it's genuinely fascinating to get different pronuncations from around the world, but in this case, it could be confusing. People are posting "How do I pronounce this word or that word." They want to be able to talk about ballet with others and be sure they're pronouncing the word correctly. As I've stated, I'm giving American pronunciations as I understand and use them (often after having been corrected, or asking, others as I made my way along the same bumpy road!). Hans is posting what are correct pronunciations in American classes. So far, the questioners have been American, I think. If this becomes an international thread -- if someone from Switzerland or New Zealand wants to know how to pronounce a step or proper name -- perhaps it's best if someone from the questioner's country answered.

#27 JaneD

JaneD

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 66 posts

Posted 17 July 2003 - 06:52 AM

Alexandra

Was it Noel Coward who described the English and Americans as two peoples divided by a common language?

I think that it's best to find out what's the accepted pronounciation in your home country - for example, there's a certain painter that the English call Van Goff, the Americas Van Go and the Dutch Fon Hoh, with a gutteral H at both ends!

Personally, I always get into trouble with the word sorbet which, being Arabic in derivation rather than French, should be pronounced the same way a sherbet - but if you don't ask for sorbay, the waiter thinks you're ignorant.

Jane

#28 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 17 July 2003 - 06:59 AM

Jane, I agree completely. That's why I've said several times that I'm giving acceptable American pronunciations (to American questioners). But those pronunciations won't work (or may not work) in lobbies elsewhere!

#29 K8smom

K8smom

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts

Posted 17 July 2003 - 07:33 AM

Now that I think about it, it is usually the French words that I hear pronounced differently by American and British people. For instance, in the US I usually hear the ballet term "bras bas" pronounced "bra BAH", and the painter Degas "DayGAH", but a Canadian friend who attended RAD school in London says "bra BASS" and "day GASS".

#30 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,263 posts

Posted 17 July 2003 - 07:39 AM

Yes. And Americans will say "REN ah sahns" and Britons say "re NAY sans." I've always thought that Americans will take a foreign word into the language as a foreign word, where other English speakers adapt the word to fits their own pronunciation rules -- but that's a very uninformed speculation!


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):