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View Full Version : How do you pronounce "Genevieve"?


even sven
10-02-2003, 03:42 AM
Is it "Jen-a-veev" or "Zhan-vee-ev"?

Askance
10-02-2003, 03:47 AM
Zhen-a-veeve

Mangetout
10-02-2003, 04:17 AM
Aren't the first two e's pronounced as more of an 'uh' sound (as in the French 'Je' ?

Zhuh-nuh-veehv

Reply
10-02-2003, 04:51 AM
According to this site:
http://factmonster.com/ce6/people/A0820478.html

It's pronounced either Jen-a-veev in English, or Zhun-vee-ehv in French (remember that the Zh is not a "z" sound but rather something like the "ge" at the end of "garage").

But whether you trust that site is up to you :)

London_Calling
10-02-2003, 05:32 AM
On the basis of a former (English) girlfriend of that name whose family I knew and who met my French friends, I agree completely with nobodyimportant's post.

She was also a loon but that's another story, or two.

jjimm
10-02-2003, 05:42 AM
I always thought it was Zhahn-uh-vee-evh. But maybe that's if there's an accent on the last E.

Colophon
10-02-2003, 07:04 AM
Yep, there is a grave accent on the penultimate e (Geneviève), making the French pronunciation roughly "Zhuh-n'-vee-ev".

Colophon
10-02-2003, 07:08 AM
Hmm, my phonetics weren't too hot there. Maybe Zhuhn-VYEV is closer?

RealityChuck
10-02-2003, 08:18 AM
"Throatwarbler Mangrove," if that's how Genevieve wants to prounounce it.

dantheman
10-02-2003, 08:20 AM
Jen-a-veeve if you're American and don't want to have a French affectation. (That is, you ain't actually French.)
:)

RickJay
10-02-2003, 08:22 AM
Depends how the person pronounces it. I'll be damned if I'm going to tell someone else how to pronounce their own name.

I would ASSUME "JEN-uh-veev" if the person was English, and "Zhen-VEE-ehv" (or however you want to spell the phoentics) if they were French, until corrected otherwise.

even sven
10-02-2003, 01:53 PM
Does this astound anyone else? Here we have one name, which can be pronounced two very different ways (It's not a matter of shifting the accent, these are two different ways of reading the word) and both versions are justifed by the spelling.

Any other examples of this?

bordelond
10-02-2003, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by even sven
Does this astound anyone else? ... Any other examples of this?

Nah ... this is commonplace for names that are trans-language homonyms. Here are a very few (pronounciations approximate):

Charles: Fr. /sharl/, Eng. /charlz/
Jeanne: Fr. /zhawn/, Eng. /jeen/
Diane: Fr. /dee-ahn/, Eng. /dye-ANN/
Louis: Fr. /lwee/, Eng. /LOO-iss/
Robert: Fr. /roe-bare/, Eng. /RAH-burt/

There are many more examples.

Colophon
10-02-2003, 03:17 PM
Bordelond, Robert happens to be my name, and I'll have you know that it is in no way pronounced "RAH-burt" in English.

The vowel sound is a short O! Where do you get A from?

Repeat after me:

Rob

Bob

Hmm, actually that's enough rhymes for now... :)

bordelond
10-02-2003, 03:31 PM
Originally posted by r_k
Bordelond, Robert happens to be my name, and I'll have you know that it is in no way pronounced "RAH-burt" in English.

The vowel sound is a short O! Where do you get A from?

Repeat after me:

Rob

Bob

Hmm, actually that's enough rhymes for now... :)

It may be my accent of English. To me, the "ah" sound (as in "open up and say AH") is exactly the same as the short-"o"
sound as in "rob", "bob". I say "rahb", "bahb".

Colophon
10-02-2003, 03:37 PM
Hmm, I guess it's a USA thing. Come to think of it, one of my cow-orkers is American and she calls me "Rahb" (amongst other things).

I still find it strange that there are accents which don't differentiate those two vowels, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.

At least now I know what that American lady meant in the bookshop when she was asking for "erratic literature"...

bordelond
10-02-2003, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by r_k
Hmm, I guess it's a USA thing. Come to think of it, one of my cow-orkers is American and she calls me "Rahb" (amongst other things).

I still find it strange that there are accents which don't differentiate those two vowels, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.

At least now I know what that American lady meant in the bookshop when she was asking for "erratic literature"...

It is largely an American thing, although a few American accents may distinguish the "ah" vowel from British short "o". Most Americans don't.

"Erotic" ... that word is a perfect demonstrative example.

As for words like "rob", "bob": when British speakers pronounce them, it sounds to me something approaching "rawb", "bawb" with the "aw" in such words being shorter in duration than the "aw" in "law" or "saw".

Cervaise
10-02-2003, 04:18 PM
Originally posted by even sven
Any other examples of this? Des Moines.

In the Midwest (the better known city), it's deh-Moyn.

Here in Washington State, there's a town called deh-Moynz.

Annoying? To no end.

Acsenray
10-02-2003, 04:21 PM
Well, "erratic" would have the "a" in "cat."

In my Midwestern accent, we merge together a lot of vowels that are differentiated in other accents. All the words within these sets are pronouced identically --

Mary, merry, marry
caught, cot
horse, hoarse
do, dew
pearl, purl

But we do distinguish --
pin, pen
git, get
tin, ten

David Simmons
10-02-2003, 04:28 PM
One of my aunts was named "Genevieve" and we all pronounced it "Nevie." [rim shot]

She pronounced her name "GEN (as in Genesis) uh veev."

rocking chair
10-02-2003, 06:11 PM
jacqueline tends to have the same problems as genevieve.

Cervaise
10-02-2003, 07:57 PM
Is Jacqueliine also a mediocre decorator with overlarge breasts?

commasense
10-02-2003, 08:24 PM
Originally posted by acsenray
Well, "erratic" would have the "a" in "cat."

In my Midwestern accent, we merge together a lot of vowels that are differentiated in other accents. All the words within these sets are pronouced identically --

Mary, merry, marry
caught, cot
horse, hoarse
do, dew
pearl, purl


Well, the words in the first two sets can be, and properly are, pronounced differently. But are there possible different pronunciations of the last three sets?

Cartooniverse
10-02-2003, 09:27 PM
Jahhn-Vee-Ehve

As in Jahhn-Vee-Ehve Booo-Jold.

:D

mackeff
10-03-2003, 12:19 AM
Mary, merry, marry
caught, cot
horse, hoarse
do, dew
pearl, purl
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, the words in the first two sets can be, and properly are, pronounced differently. But are there possible different pronunciations of the last three sets?

I pronounce 'caught' & 'cot' the same but 'do' as "doo" and 'dew' as "dyoo".

- from a Canadian west-coaster with an English mother

Hilarity N. Suze
10-03-2003, 12:30 AM
On the authority of my white-trash great-Aunt Genevieve, it's "Zhun-vee-ev" when you're outside the family circle and "Jenna-veev" at reunions and there's no point trying to change these people, they've just got no ear at all.

MonkeyMensch
10-03-2003, 12:39 AM
Originally posted by acsenray
...we merge together a lot of vowels that are differentiated in other accents. All the words within these sets are pronouced identically --

Mary, merry, marry
[/B]

There was always a running joke in my father's house regarding Baltimore accents. He grew up in the area and used to remark how they were three separate words:

Mary: MAY-ree
Merry: Murray
Marry: Mah-ree.

It's so easy...

BobT
10-03-2003, 02:56 AM
I just call my niece Genny and leave it at that.

Acsenray
10-03-2003, 10:36 AM
Well, the words in the first two sets can be, and properly are, pronounced differently.

"Properly are"? Maybe in your accent, but not in mine. I would venture to say that making such a judgement is not going to further a discussion on pronunciation in a valuable manner.

commasense
10-03-2003, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by acsenray
"Properly are"? Maybe in your accent, but not in mine. I would venture to say that making such a judgement is not going to further a discussion on pronunciation in a valuable manner. I'm not taking an attitude, and I'm not saying anything your dictionary doesn't say. Check and I think you'll find it specifies a different pronunciation for each of those words.

In fact, in ordinary speech I myself rarely manage to distinguish between "merry" and "Mary." (The first has a short e sound, as in "kettle;" the second is a long-a diphthong, as in "air.") But in "standard speech" (whatever that is) the distinctions between Mary, marry, and Murray should be quite clear. IMO.

bordelond
10-03-2003, 11:14 AM
Originally posted by commasense
I'm not taking an attitude, and I'm not saying anything your dictionary doesn't say. Check and I think you'll find it specifies a different pronunciation for each of those words.

In fact, in ordinary speech I myself rarely manage to distinguish between "merry" and "Mary." (The first has a short e sound, as in "kettle;" the second is a long-a diphthong, as in "air.") But in "standard speech" (whatever that is) the distinctions between Mary, marry, and Murray should be quite clear. IMO.

(Boy, is this thread meandering ... but good discussion!)

Commasense, you've hit the nail right on the head when you wrote "standard speech (whatever that is)". English has no one adopted standard.

No dictionary accounts for all the idiosyncracies of every English dialect. Furthermore, no dictionary can serve to demonstrate authoritative proper English pronunciation. What a dictionary does do is give users, for each word, a subset of acceptable pronunciations.

While dictionary makers strive to describe the English language as best they can, they actually capture only an imperfect portrait, missing detail here and there.

Tradnor
10-03-2003, 11:46 AM
From Merriam-Webster (http://m-w.com/):
merry: 'mer-E
marry: 'mar-E also 'mer-
Mary: 'mer-E, 'mar-E, 'mA-rE

("also" indicates a less frequently occurring, but still standard, variant.)

So according to the dictionary, all three words can be pronounced the same in "proper" speech. But even they admit (http://m-w.com/pronguid.htm),Readers often turn to the dictionary wanting to learn the exact pronunciation of a word, only to discover that the word may have several pronunciations, as is the case for deity, economic, envelope, and greasy, among many others. The inclusion of variant pronunciations disappoints those who want their dictionary to list one "correct" pronunciation. In truth, though, there can be no objective standard for correct pronunciation other than the usage of thoughtful and, in particular, educated speakers of English. Among such speakers one hears much variation in pronunciation.

Acsenray
10-03-2003, 12:00 PM
But are there possible different pronunciations of the last three sets?

Yes there are, in many accents, for example in the British RP and in Eastern American Theater accents, all these words are pronounced differently. Because they're not in my accent, it's difficult for me to explain them, though.

In general, there are two vowels here, one represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet. One is represented as a "turned c" or "open o." The other is a "turned script a."

You can find examples at the home page of the alt.usage.english newsgroup -- http://alt-usage-english.org/ipa/ascii_ipa_combined.shtml. This page mentions all of these distinctions.

Acsenray
10-03-2003, 12:03 PM
Let me try making that link
again (http://alt-usage-english.org/ipa/ascii_ipa_combined.shtml).

elmwood
10-04-2003, 03:03 AM
What about the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song "Genevieve," where it's pronounced GWEN-uh-veer?

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