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Pronunciation of Ballet Names


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#106 Mel Johnson

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 03:24 AM

In the late 60s, d'Amboise did a St. Patrick's Day show with the Irish Rovers, who made a running joke out of mispronouncing his name. He said it was originally "Jack", but that his grandmother was the only one to call him "Joseph".

#107 bart

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 07:07 AM

And to make matters more confusing, sometimes the man himself would say, "ma-SEEN", and sometimes, "mya-SEEN".

I's sometimes wondered about this. "ma-SEEN" is French. I always assumed that the dipthong "mya" (or "mee-ah" said very fast until it all blurs into one, bendy syllable) is the way it would have originally been spoken in Russia.

I guess that the former has won out in this case, especially since Massine's career was overwhelmingly in France.

English speakers tend to adopt the mah-SEEN.

Maybe Leonid was "mas-EEN" when talking with his French friends, and "mya-SEEN" when hanging out with his fellow Russian expatriates.

#108 volcanohunter

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 11:54 AM

And to make matters more confusing, sometimes the man himself would say, "ma-SEEN", and sometimes, "mya-SEEN".

I's sometimes wondered about this. "ma-SEEN" is French. I always assumed that the dipthong "mya" (or "mee-ah" said very fast until it all blurs into one, bendy syllable) is the way it would have originally been spoken in Russia.

What's important to remember is that iotated vowels like ya, ye, yo and yu serve two functions. At the beginning of a word, or if separated from the preceding consonant by a hard or soft sign, they are in fact pronounced as Y+vowel. But if the iotated vowel comes directly after a consonant, the Y isn't pronounced. It's just an orthographic way of indicating that the preceding consonant is softened: CyV= C'V.

Russian includes a fairly unusual group of softened labial consonants (M, B, P, V, F), which you don't run into too often (and which are extremely difficult for non-native speakers to learn to pronounce!): Perm' (p'erm'), step' (s't'ep'), ljubov' (l'ubof') or, in the relevant case, mjaso (m'asa). For English-speakers I suppose the easiest way to describe the first syllable in Massine (Мясин = m'as'in) is as something in between MA and MYA, with the M turning a little soft thanks to a Y pronounced really quickly, as bart says.

Incidentally, in the film Nijinsky, Alan Bates as Diaghilev pronounces the name more or less correctly: MYA-seen.

#109 bart

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 12:27 PM

Thank you so much, volcanohunter. I certainly did not know the following:

Russian includes a fairly unusual group of softened labial consonants (M, B, P, V, F), which you don't run into too often (and which are extremely difficult for non-native speakers to learn to pronounce!): Perm' (p'erm'), step' (s't'ep'), ljubov' (l'ubof') or, in the relevant case, mjaso (m'asa).

And I'm truly grateful for these guidelines:

For English-speakers I suppose the easiest way to describe the first syllable in Massine (Мясин = m'as'in) is as something in between MA and MYA, with the M turning a little soft thanks to a Y pronounced really quickly, as bart says.

Incidentally, in the film Nijinsky, Alan Bates as Diaghilev pronounces the name more or less correctly: MYA-seen.

:wacko: ... :P ... :dunno:

#110 canbelto

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 10:54 AM

I think Diana Vishneva is: dee-AH-na vish-NOY-va

#111 artist

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 01:43 PM

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 , which is pronounced yo, and if it occurs in a syllable, that syllable is always stressed. When its transliterated into English, its 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 Solovievs last name should be yo, which is how Ive sometimes seen it transliterated in recent years.

djb's outstanding explanation on page 2.

#112 carbro

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 07:18 PM

:angel_not:

djb's outstanding explanation on page 2.

This can be misleading. djb's post is on page 2 if your preferences are set to default. Some people have more posts per page (mine is set for 40, for example, which is much more efficient with a dial-up connection), but you can get the full explanation by clicking the little red arrow to the right of the date. :off topic:

#113 Marga

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 08:08 PM

artist, thanks for bringing up djb's post.
This one I know for sure: Vishneva IS pronounced Vish-NYO-va (not vish-NOY-va -- sorry, canbelto!)

#114 artist

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 09:56 PM

:angel_not:

djb's outstanding explanation on page 2.

This can be misleading. djb's post is on page 2 if your preferences are set to default. Some people have more posts per page (mine is set for 40, for example, which is much more efficient with a dial-up connection), but you can get the full explanation by clicking the little red arrow to the right of the date. :off topic:

ha! I didn't even notice that arrow! (it's very convenient!) Thanks yet again, carbro, for helping me out!

#115 artist

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 02:49 PM

Enrico Cecchetti: En-REE-ko cheh-KET-ee

Helgi Tomasson: Hel'gi (hard g) Toe'masson ?

Farouk Ruzimatov ?

Ekaterina or Yekaterina ? (like Maximova)

#116 carbro

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 04:45 PM

Helgi Tomasson: HEL-ghee toe-MAH-son

Farouk Ruzimatov fah-ROOK ROO-zi-MAH-tov

#117 mohnurka

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:52 AM

It's actually Fah-ROOH (the last h is the same sound as in 'hello').

As for Maximova -- Ye-kah-te-REE-nah Mak-SEE-moh-vah

#118 Mel Johnson

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 01:43 PM

I think we have to go back to the standard of "How does s/he say it?"

#119 susibee

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:37 PM

Just make it one syllable, with a hard initial "g": GYEM.


I always pronouned Sylvie Guillem's name this way too, like the French word fille.

However, I was recently corrected by one of my French roomates, an artist from Paris, who told me it is pronounced "gee LEM." (That's a hard "g.")

#120 artist

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 10:14 PM

I've also heard that way, too.

Marcia Haydee

Aurelie (w/accent on 1st 'e') Dupont


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