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Pronunciation of Ballet Names


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#16 atm711

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:57 AM

Here is the first request for a non-Russian name: Michele Wiles---is it Willies (as in Giselle); or Whiles (as in, she whiles away her time), or perhaps Will-less.

#17 Hans

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:12 AM

"Whiles"

#18 djb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:35 AM

From a post sometime in July:

Regarding Jorgen's post about pronouncing Tatiana Terekhova's name — I have a video of La Bayadčre with Terekhova as Gamzatti in which the Russian announcer pronounces her name with the stress on the second syllable, which is the way I've always pronounced it


Interestingly, when I listened to the same Russian announcer, I heard the stress on the first syllable.

#19 atm711

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:36 AM

Thanks.

#20 djb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:53 AM

Something the lists showing the accented syllables might not be correctly showing is the pronunciation of syllables with "e" in them. In Russian, there's a letter “ë”, which is pronounced “yo”, and if it occurs in a syllable, that syllable is always stressed. When it’s transliterated into English, it’s usually interpreted as “e.” Vishneva, for example, should be Vish-NYO-va. (I noticed the more correct transliteration in a French forum, and then checked with the Russian program seller when the Kirov was here.) The final vowel sound in Yuri Soloviev’s last name should be “yo”, which is how I’ve sometimes seen it transliterated in recent years.

Russian is not completely phonetic — some vowel sounds change depending on whether they’re stressed or unstressed (e.g., an unstressed “o” is pronounced like an unstressed “a” — somewhere between “ah” and “uh”). If a consonant is the last letter in a word, it’s pronounced unvoiced, even if it’s a voiced consonant. For example, all those “-ev” endings should really be pronounced “-ef” (the alternate spelling “Prokofieff” is sometimes seen). There are more rules, but if all these rules were followed in the transliterations, the names might look quite different than the transliterations were used to seeing. It would be handy if everyone were taught the international phonetic alphabet.

#21 Alexandra

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:57 AM

Wow! Thank you, djb. That's very helpful. It's impossible to write about phonetics -- and yet you've done it! It's so clear.

#22 djb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:58 AM

I suspect that the name "Fe'dorova" is actually "Fyo'dorova" (see my lengthy post above). I'm not 100% sure, though -- I'd only know for sure if I saw it written in Russian. Any Russians (or more knowledgeable non-Russians) out there who could verify this?

#23 djb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 12:14 PM

Why, thank you, Alexandra! When I re-read that post, I realized that the "ieff" ending proposed as a correct pronunciation is still lacking, because the "e" when unstressed is like an "i". So "yif" would be better. So "prah-KO-fyif" would probably be even better. (Now I hope a Russian doesn't inform me that the last vowel is actually a “ë” . . . and it should be pronounced “prah-kah-FYOF” . . . I guess sticking to just putting the stress on the correct syllable is probably good enough!)

#24 Alexandra

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 01:20 PM

You're probably safe. Since Russians already know how to pronounce everything, they don't seem to be checking this thread! :grinning:

#25 jorgen

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 02:23 PM

Yes, it written Fëdorova (Fyo'dorova).

#26 djb

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 04:33 PM

Спасибо, Jorgen!

#27 Mrs. Stahlbaum

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 10:43 PM

Three ABT names I have wondered about:

Gomes: Is it Gomez or does it rhyme with "homes"?

Steiffel: (not even sure how to spell it) Is it Steyefel or Steefel?

Xiomara: I have heard it pronounce Shiomahra? Is that correct?

#28 carbro

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 12:30 AM

Gomes: Neither. GO-mesh; it's Portuguese.

Stiefel: STEE-fel, according to the recent PBS Special, I believe.

Xiomara: Well, I've been fudging it as a kind of Dzho/Cho -MAR-a :toot: , but I'm learning that calling her X-Rey's :devil: communicates adequately. :D

#29 djb

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 09:24 AM

My Internet search indicated that Xiomara is pronounced "sio-MA-ra."

#30 Marianna

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Posted 07 November 2003 - 11:37 AM

A grande reverence to djb for the most profound knowledge of Russian phonetics - having got a BA in Russian language and literature, I do have lots of respect for people who actually had that phonetcs subject figured out (trust me, it is NOT an easy subject even for native Russian speakers :wink: :green: ), and even better - are capable of explaining it to others "short and sweet". :D

As a native Russian speaker I vouch for djb - no Russian phonetics professor could've put it any more clear for you! :wacko: You actually had that "YO" character figured out!!

BRAVISSIMO DJB ! :D :D :D


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