Violin, viola.

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Violin, viola.

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:14 pm

I enjoyed a lovely string quartet last night. The viola player did most of the talking referring to her instrument as a VEE-OLA. I have always called it a VYE-OLA, after all, her sister was playing a VYE-OLIN not a VEE-OLIN, but it set me thinking about which is correct, VEE-OLA or VYE-OLA? Personally, I am still in the VYE camp, but as always, i am ready to listen.
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:29 pm

There is no 'correct' or 'incorrect' here. Both are in widespread use, which legitimizes them both as standard pronunciations. There are many other words with multiple standard pronunciations, such as controversy: you will hear both CONtroversy and conTROversy, COMparable and comPARable, and often with and without the T being sounded.

Some people make it their life's obsession to promote their pet pronunciations, as though there was only one 'correct' way of saying a word. Such a prescriptive attitude is, of course, misplaced. While they might reasonably point out that a given pronunciation is non-standard in their own linguistic world, it's quite likely that what they consider to be a mispronunciation in those terms is standard in the deprecated speaker's sociolect or geographical region.

It seems to me that there is an awful lot of snobbery and class prejudice associated with the finding of fault with other people's pronunciations — usually on the part of educated people versus those less well-educated than themselves, of urbanites versus country-dwellers, and of people with a colonial history versus those whom they (or their ancestors) have colonized. It's a way for such folk to assert and maintain their claim of social dominance by making certain other people (or groups of people) feel inferior, and/or by holding them up for ridicule for their supposed lack of sophistication.
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:41 pm

Hi Bob,

I’ve always pronounced it vee-ola. I checked 10 dictionaries and found that 8 of them pronounced it vee-ola. Merriam-Webster regular and unabridged gave vye-ola as an alternate pronunciation.

And here is the OED’s pronunciations. I have always been too lazy to learn or look up their pronunciation codes but I get the impression that it accepts both and gives the British as well as U.S. versions.

Brit. /ˈvʌɪələ/, /ˈvɪələ/, /vʌɪˈəʊlə/
U.S. /viˈoʊlə/
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Ken – July 14, 2019
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:27 pm

Yes Erik, we are most definitely in the vawz, varz and vayz territory. I rather suspected that one pronunciation was just as correct as the other!
And thank you Ken, I somehow did not not suspect that it could be a a UK/USA thing.
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by tony h » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:13 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:41 pm
And here is the OED’s pronunciations. I have always been too lazy to learn or look up their pronunciation codes but I get the impression that it accepts both and gives the British as well as U.S. versions.

Brit. /ˈvʌɪələ/, /ˈvɪələ/, /vʌɪˈəʊlə/
U.S. /viˈoʊlə/
Ken – July 14, 2019
Interestingly the OED online (from my home) only gives:
Pronunciation: /vɪˈəʊlə/ ie VEEola
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: Violin, viola.

Post by trolley » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:31 pm

I've always pronounced the name of the musical instrument as "vee ola" but I've known two women with that name and both pronounced their names as "Vye ola".
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by tony h » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:26 pm

trolley wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:31 pm
I've known two women with that name and both pronounced their names as "Vye ola".
@Ken Greenwald
When it is a lady's name I assume it comes from the flower viola, as in violet. For this the pronunciations, according to the OED, Brit. /ˈvʌɪələ/, /ˈvɪələ/, /vʌɪˈəʊlə/, U.S. /viˈoʊlə/
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Re: Violin, viola.

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:14 am

I always called the instrument a vee-ola, and often say it when the apropos term would be "voilà".
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