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View Full Version : Correct pronounciation for gyro (The sandwich)


duffer
08-11-2004, 06:32 PM
Always curious and have heard 3 different ways. So which is correct?

ratatoskK
08-11-2004, 06:43 PM
I was told it's GEE-roe, but neither I nor the person who told me is Greek.

UncleBill
08-11-2004, 06:44 PM
Sub.



No, not really. In Cyprus I recall hearing sorta like a soft, guttural "y" sound, with a hint of "g" at the start. Kind of "YEE-ro" with a Greek accented "y".

CaptainMyrrh
08-11-2004, 06:45 PM
All three of the ones that I'm supposing you're referring to can be called correct, according to my Oxford. However, I have personally only heard the one pronunciation used, and would tend to assume that it is the more commonly accpeted one, being 'Ye-ro.' But, 'Ji-ro' (like as in autogyro) or even 'Jee-ro' (which I personally think is a ridiculous way to pronounce it) are all acceptable ways.

-Captain Myrrh

ratatoskK
08-11-2004, 06:47 PM
This seems to be saying YEE-roe
http://iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-89927

More info:
http://linguistlist.org/issues/6/6-1641.html
http://merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?gyro0002.wav=gyro

Bear_Nenno
08-11-2004, 06:54 PM
My grandfather was greek. I eat frequently at my favorite greek restaurant downtown.

Yee-ro. The R has almost a D sound though.

duffer
08-11-2004, 06:58 PM
Thanks all. We're going to a new Greek restaurant tonight and I haven't had one in years. Wanted to make sure I didn't sound like an idiot. (I save that for the Pit threads) ;)

Kizarvexius
08-11-2004, 06:59 PM
When in Greece you say "YEEE-roh".


Some friends and I were lucky enough to discover two side-by-side gyro shops in Athens. The owners apparently hated each other, and always tried to steal one another's customers by undercutting their prices. After listening to them argue for about ten minutes one evening, we huddled together, flipped a coin, and marched into one of the shops. The owner fawned over us and stuffed us with food for about two hours. At the end of the evening the tab was only about $15 or so. Not bad for feeding eight.

Punoqllads
08-11-2004, 07:17 PM
We could eat gyros,
Just for one day.Or something.

TheLoadedDog
08-11-2004, 08:11 PM
Punoqllads, that was quite good. :D

Strange thing, here in Sydney (where we have a very big Greek population), this food is more popular than hamburgers, but they are always sold as YEEROS. Now, while some people ask for "a yeero" (which would seem to be correct), the vast majority - including me - ask for "a yeeros" (pron: YEAR-oss). I actually thought it was this latter pronunciation as the short 'o' followed by the 's' just seems naturally Greek to me, but obviously I have been mistaken.

bughunter
08-11-2004, 09:47 PM
Sub.
:D

But to use this as an opportunity to be pedantic, the pronunciation of Greek Gyros is the origin of the American name hero for a sub, grinder, po-boy, wattevah...

Hail Ants
08-11-2004, 11:00 PM
It may be incorrect, but there's just no way us Americans will pronounce a word begining with the letter G with a soft Y or H sound. A breathy, soft J (as in JEE-ROE) is the best we'll do! :D

Athena
08-11-2004, 11:04 PM
Punoqllads, that was quite good. :D

Strange thing, here in Sydney (where we have a very big Greek population), this food is more popular than hamburgers, but they are always sold as YEEROS. Now, while some people ask for "a yeero" (which would seem to be correct), the vast majority - including me - ask for "a yeeros" (pron: YEAR-oss). I actually thought it was this latter pronunciation as the short 'o' followed by the 's' just seems naturally Greek to me, but obviously I have been mistaken.

The "os" ending is the singular. The plural would be "gyroi", if I remember my greek correctly. You would only use "gyro" as the vocative, when you are addressing the sandwich: "Gyro! Slather yourself with more tzatziki!"

I think the problem with the pronounciation is that the Greek "g" is somewhere between a hard "g" and a "y" sound in English. Given that English really doesn't have that sound, "yee-ro" and"gee-ro" are equally incorrect, or equally acceptable, depending on your point of view.

But to use this as an opportunity to be pedantic, the pronunciation of Greek Gyros is the origin of the American name hero for a sub, grinder, po-boy, wattevah...

Sheesh, years of college level Greek (ancient AND modern) and I never fookin' realized that. :smack:

lissener
08-11-2004, 11:26 PM
I'll add my voice to the building consensus: it's not "gee-roe," its' YEE-ros, with a guttural Y, a rolling R, and a sibilant S.

stpauler
08-12-2004, 12:25 AM
My grandfather was greek. I eat frequently at my favorite greek restaurant downtown.

Yee-ro. The R has almost a D sound though.
That's the way I was taught by some greek friends. The R had the tongue moving from the hard to the soft pallet quickly which made it have a "d" like sound to the "r". (That was ten years ago so my memory might be incorrect, but that's how I remember them telling me how to pronounce it).

pulykamell
08-12-2004, 12:42 AM
I'll add my voice to the building consensus: it's not "gee-roe," its' YEE-ros, with a guttural Y, a rolling R, and a sibilant S.

Exactly. YEE-ros. YEE-ros, with an unvoiced "s" sound at the end (and that palatal "r.") "Gyros" is like "kudos." You don't have one kudo, and you gon't have one gyro. Kudo[b]s/b]. Gyros.

Anyhow, the Kronos Gyros posters which you see in every second fast food joint in Chicago have engrained this knowledge into our brains. (The slogan is "It's pronounced YEE-ros".)

Doobieous
08-12-2004, 01:03 AM
According to Leslie Threatte in "The World's Writing Systems", greek "g" is pronounced as a velar fricative (it's sort of a softer "g" sound. This is the g sound between vowels in Spanish) in front of a, o, and u typically. In front of the front vowels e, and i, it becomes like "y' /j/.

Y in transliterated Greek is always "ee" /i/.

So, gyros should be pronounced "yee-ros" with a trilled r (for those who know SAMPA IPA: /jiros/)

However, i've heard the proprietor of the mediterranean market here pronounce it with a velar fricative rather than the "y" sound. But definitely not with a hard g sound /g/. I don;t know if he's Greek or not.

samclem
08-12-2004, 01:46 AM
:D

But to use this as an opportunity to be pedantic, the pronunciation of Greek Gyros is the origin of the American name hero for a sub, grinder, po-boy, wattevah...

Yep, you're being pedantic(been that, myself).

Nope, you're incorrect in your assertion.

At least, you are until you can provide some reference other than your intuition.

Can you give me a cite(sorry :D ) for the first use of the word "gyro" in the US? That's the most important. Can you give me a cite, or any help, for when Greek "'gyros" appeared in the US?

Let me suggest that "gyro" in Greek doesn't mean "sliced lamb with yoghurt sauce." Does it have anything to do with the spit upon which it's cooked?

Food for thought.

dnooman
08-12-2004, 02:22 AM
Just to confuse things, I've also heard gyros referred to as a type of shawarma. I guess in some cultures the two are somewhat interchangable.

Anyone that refers to it as a JY-ro gets at least a small lecture from me. Otherwise me might as well eat TAY-cos, lin-GWEEN, or maybe some goose liver PAYT. I'll fight that kind of ignorance tooth and nail.


I had a Texan girl in one of my Spanish classes and her redneck drawl made her pronunciation atrocious! You live in Texas! Right next to (and almost part of) Mexico! Sheesh.

TheLoadedDog
08-12-2004, 02:35 AM
"Yeeros" and "doner kebab" are virtually interchangeable here in Sydney. If you want to get technical, you might be able to ask for tzatziki on the former and hommus on the latter (though often both are available), but in general it's a flat bread roll full of processed meat, lettuce, tomato, onion and your choice of chilli, bbq, or tomato sauce. The only difference between a yeeros and a doner kebab is that the proprietor of one shop is Greek, and the other is Lebanese.

Strange things happen when cultures collide, food gets westernised etc...

Sharky
08-12-2004, 03:04 AM
I can't count the number of times I have stood in line at the gyro shop in Panama City and heard one of those good-ole-boy 'necks say to the order-taker: "Gimme one-a them there JIE-roes". :smack:

Colophon
08-12-2004, 08:07 AM
The main thing to take away from this thread is that it is a gyros - singular. You don't have "a gyro". Of course, here in the UK we just call them kebabs.

In the same way, "a panini" is all wrong, but we seem to have lost the battle on that one.

Let me suggest that "gyro" in Greek doesn't mean "sliced lamb with yoghurt sauce." Does it have anything to do with the spit upon which it's cooked?
Bingo. Gyros (Γυρος) comes from the word for "circle" (hence "gyroscope", "gyrate" and so on), and presumably refers to the rotation of the spit.

Colophon
08-12-2004, 08:08 AM
Stupid smilies. That's Γυρος

Polycarp
08-12-2004, 09:14 AM
A vote for "YEE-ro" -- an a mnemonic:

Imagine a rather replete Tina Turner answering the Greek restaurant waiter asking if they want anything more: "We don't need another gyro!" ;)

Götterfunken
08-12-2004, 10:04 AM
If by "correct" pronunciation you mean "closest to the original Greek without spraining your anglicized tongue" then you should probably go with the "yee-ros" pronunciation, as already discussed here.

However, I've heard some "spelling pronunciations" that should probably be considered regional variations. "JYE-roe" (with a soft "g") is fairly common in parts of New York (I remember hearing it pronounced that way when I lived on Long Island a few years ago). So it's not only confined to Sharky's redneck neighbors.*

*Coincidentally, I grew up in Panama City, FL, and I first "learned" the pronunciation from local radio/TV advertisements. They pronounced it, IIRC, as "YOUR-os"--a bit off from the original Greek, but not as off as "JYE-roe."

Khadaji
08-12-2004, 10:29 AM
I was told it was pronounced geero with a very soft 'g' and that it eventually morphed to what we now call a Hero sandwich. It is a good tail, but I dunno if it is true.

Khadaji
08-12-2004, 10:33 AM
A good tale even...

Acsenray
08-12-2004, 11:03 AM
It may be incorrect, but there's just no way us Americans will pronounce a word begining with the letter G with a soft Y or H sound. A breathy, soft J (as in JEE-ROE) is the best we'll do! :D

Speak for yourself. Back in the 1980s, Xar's, the very first gyro stand in the Dayton, Ohio, area opened at Salem Mall. Before that, I had never seen nor heard of a gyro. Prominently placed on the wall was a big sign that declared the correct pronunciation to be YEAR-OS. Since then I have pronounced it that way and no other. I was quite suprised to hear Kramer on Seinfeld pronounce it as JY-ROWS. Sounds quite ignorant to me.

Flander
08-12-2004, 12:19 PM
You lika da juice? :p

Satyagrahi
08-12-2004, 12:39 PM
When in Greece you say "YEEE-roh".


Some friends and I were lucky enough to discover two side-by-side gyro shops in Athens. The owners apparently hated each other, and always tried to steal one another's customers by undercutting their prices. After listening to them argue for about ten minutes one evening, we huddled together, flipped a coin, and marched into one of the shops. The owner fawned over us and stuffed us with food for about two hours. At the end of the evening the tab was only about $15 or so. Not bad for feeding eight.


Gee, I hate to rain on your parade....but I'm gonna.....

My wife was born in and has spent most of her life in Athens, arriving in the U.S. just three years ago. She has cautioned me that, when we visit her home, I should never, ever, under any circumstances, eat the gyros there.

Why?

1. Restaurants and street vendors are very poorly regulated and inspected, if at all.

2. Greeks have a somewhat different attitude toward many animals that are considered pets elsewhere.

3. Because of price wars and such pressures, operators of restaurants will look for the cheapest source of meat they can find.

4. Stray dogs and cats used to be plentiful in the streets of Athens (though the government has more recently been distributing poisoned food in an effort to eliminate them before the Olympics.)

The conclusion: Your very inexpensive yet flavorful dinner may have been--and may NOT have been--beef.

Bon appetit. ;)

bughunter
08-12-2004, 06:55 PM
Yep, you're being pedantic(been that, myself).

Nope, you're incorrect in your assertion.

At least, you are until you can provide some reference other than your intuition.

Well, there's This Recipe page (http://recipecircus.com/recipes/susanfelt/BIOGRAPHY/Food_tales.html) that says "the greek gyro begat the hero," comparing its etymology to that of "cocktail" from the French coquetier (egg cup).

I recall these both as one of many examples of bastardization origins cited by the professor in my college English class "Etymology of Words," which was one of the more interesting and useful classes I took.

I use it more often than just about any class I took, since I can often decipher a word or phrase in a foreign language just by decomposing the word roots. It's amazing even to me sometimes. However, once I did thusly decipher a Mexican highway sign to say "no speed limit" when in reality the warning meant "do not stop." Oh well... I certainly didn't stop!

samclem
08-12-2004, 08:17 PM
Well, there's This Recipe page (http://recipecircus.com/recipes/susanfelt/BIOGRAPHY/Food_tales.html) that says "the greek gyro begat the hero," comparing its etymology to that of "cocktail" from the French coquetier (egg cup).

I recall these both as one of many examples of bastardization origins cited by the professor in my college English class "Etymology of Words," which was one of the more interesting and useful classes I took.

PLEASE don't trust etymology that you read on websites, unless it's a website devoted to etymology. That food site is absolutely wrong about the gyro>hero progression. It's also wrong about cocktail<coquetier(http://worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-coc3.htm). I don't even want to take the time to do others.

Aw heck, why not. The lobster=locust one. While the OED DID propose this, it's almost certainly unlikely. I could go into the reasons, but won't unless you REALLY need me to.

And I'm amazed at how many college professionals repeat incorrect info.

spingears
08-12-2004, 08:31 PM
Thanks all. We're going to a new Greek restaurant tonight and I haven't had one in years. Wanted to make sure I didn't sound like an idiot. (I save that for the Pit threads) ;)

I'm quite sure that they know the 'right' pronunciation and have hear all the mispronounciations as well.

Also quite sure they couldn't care less as to your pronunciation as long as yo pay for it!

If it is important to know ask the Greeks who run the restaurant.

jastu
08-12-2004, 08:46 PM
In Adelaide South Australia, which also has a large Greek population, we have yiros pronounced year-os.

Hail Ants
08-12-2004, 09:01 PM
Prominently placed on the wall was a big sign that declared the correct pronunciation to be YEAR-OS. Since then I have pronounced it that way and no other. I was quite suprised to hear Kramer on Seinfeld pronounce it as JY-ROWS. Sounds quite ignorant to me.With the benefit of a phonetic sign, sure.

I live in the NE and we have about 3 Greek diners in our area, and my whole life everybody always pronounced it JEE-ROE. To me only calling it a JIE-ROE or a GEAR-ROE sounds wrong. And the Greeks who run the place never cared nor corrected anyone no matter how they pronounce it.

In American english a G is either hard (as in get) or soft (as in giant). So it makes perfect sense that something spelled GYRO will be pronounced that way. :D

stpauler
08-12-2004, 09:10 PM
I decided to google this.... just out of curiousity...

Gyro: (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Gyro) The pronunciation of gyros is widely debated with one linguist noting 5 pronunciations just in Greece. yiro(s) ("yee-ros") is one of the leading pronunciations.

it only gets more complicated: (http://linguistlist.org/issues/6/6-1641.html) In Greek, the word is spelled with an initial gamma, which is
generally pronounced as a palatal glide before front vowels, so the
posters in some gyros restaurants instructing customers to "Say
yee-ros" are not bad guides to "authentic" pronunciation. Apparently
there is some dialectal variation even among native Greek speakers,
however, and some pronounce the gamma as a voiced or voiceless velar
fricative, or even as a voiced alveo-palatal fricative.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Z = voiced alveopalatal fricative
dZ = voiced alveopalatal affricate
y = palatal glide
G = voiced velar fricative
g = voiced velar stop
x = voiceless velar fricative
h = glottal fricative

i as in "bee"
aI as in "eye"
Ir as in "ear"
^r as in "fur"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ziro(s): Webster, Random House, some Greek

dZiro(s): Webster, Random House, American Heritage, some Greek,
Washington State, U.S. South
dZaIro(s): American Heritage, California, Ohio, Washington D.C.,
Philadelphia, New York, (rural) U.S. South

yiro(s): Webster, poster ("yee-ros"), Greek, Boise, Boston
yIro(s): Greek, Montreal, Australia (spelled "yeeros, yiros")
y^ro(s): Chicago

Giro(s): Greek, New York
G^ro(s): Greek

giro(s): Chicago, Madison, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, Germany,
Australia (spelled "giros")
gu"ro(s): Germany
gIro(s): Detroit Greektown
gaIro(s): Ohio, Buffalo

xiro(s): Germany, Wisconsin, Illinois

hiro(s): Boise, Denver, Tucson, Columbus, Buffalo, New York

Could it be that there's no "one" proper pronunciation?

Doobieous
08-13-2004, 02:56 AM
1. Restaurants and street vendors are very poorly regulated and inspected, if at all.

2. Greeks have a somewhat different attitude toward many animals that are considered pets elsewhere.

3. Because of price wars and such pressures, operators of restaurants will look for the cheapest source of meat they can find.

4. Stray dogs and cats used to be plentiful in the streets of Athens (though the government has more recently been distributing poisoned food in an effort to eliminate them before the Olympics.)

The conclusion: Your very inexpensive yet flavorful dinner may have been--and may NOT have been--beef.

Bon appetit. ;)


Number one would be a good reason, possibly three.

Buuuut.... for two and four, really if I found out that my gyros was a former dog or cat, i'd probably wince a bit and then continue eating it. Why? Because they're just another source of meat.

In the Philippines it's not uncommon for dogs to become food, and a friend of mine has had it before. She says it's very good but really oily :).

Doobieous
08-13-2004, 03:07 AM
Could it be that there's no "one" proper pronunciation?


Well, we Americans think that there HAS to be one correct pronunciation, because all languages except English are void of any dialects! And if there are, they're "incorrect"!

I'm joking of course, but we tend to think the right pronunciation is what one native speaker tells us is correct. Thus, i've heard people claim Spanish has no "h" sound, where it only has a soft " irish/german ch" sound, but however that is not true as i've heard both h and ch from native speakers.

Doobieous
08-13-2004, 03:15 AM
And I'm amazed at how many college professionals repeat incorrect info.


I was in a Spanish linguistics class, and the professor apparently knew less about the language than *I* did. He'd frequently spout off folk etymologies, such as, saying the word "bárbaro" (Barbarian) came from the Latin word for "beard" because the barbarians had beards. Despite me looking it up the etymology and telling him it came from the Greek word for foreigners -- barbaroi. He'd also said the origin of "sabado" is from "saturn", which in the very book he had us read it said "from the same source as "sabbath". He also claimed that the word "phonetics" and "fonos" came from the Phoenicians because in his folk etymology mind they sounded the same. He had to admit he was wrong when i corrected him and said that phonetics and fono both come from the greek word for "sound", NOT phoenicians.

Ach, and this guy was a DOCTOR.

I couldn't believe how often he'd do this when what he was telling us was EASILY looked up in any etymological dictionary.

calm kiwi
08-13-2004, 03:47 AM
Are there any Greeks here or Cretians?

I spent about 8 mths on Crete way back in the 80's. I washed dishes in a resturant for a living. I lived almost entirely on kebabs and until SDMB I had never heard the word gyro. Am I nuts, are they just called kebabs on Crete or was I just young, stupid and often drunk?

Kizarvexius
08-13-2004, 10:19 AM
The conclusion: Your very inexpensive yet flavorful dinner may have been--and may NOT have been--beef.

Whatever it was, it was damned good. Besides, I'm part Cajun. If it's capable of self-locomation and can't fight you off, it's fair game for dinner.

I was in a Spanish linguistics class, and the professor apparently knew less about the language than *I* did. He'd frequently spout off folk etymologies, such as, saying the word "bárbaro" (Barbarian) came from the Latin word for "beard" because the barbarians had beards. Despite me looking it up the etymology and telling him it came from the Greek word for foreigners -- barbaroi. He'd also said the origin of "sabado" is from "saturn", which in the very book he had us read it said "from the same source as "sabbath". He also claimed that the word "phonetics" and "fonos" came from the Phoenicians because in his folk etymology mind they sounded the same. He had to admit he was wrong when i corrected him and said that phonetics and fono both come from the greek word for "sound", NOT phoenicians.

Ach, and this guy was a DOCTOR.

Wow. Sounds exactly like a professor I had for a Latin class. He said exactly the same thing about the word "barbarian". He was trying to shoot me down when I said in class that it came from the Greek word for "someone who babbles senselessly." Over the course of the semester, he spouted a few other doozies as well. Since I had already had an extremely negative experience with correcting professors in class, I just kept my mouth shut.

barbitu8
08-13-2004, 10:50 AM
That's the way I was taught by some greek friends. The R had the tongue moving from the hard to the soft pallet quickly which made it have a "d" like sound to the "r". (That was ten years ago so my memory might be incorrect, but that's how I remember them telling me how to pronounce it).
Wouldn't that be the rolling "r" as in the Spanish "r"? (BTW, it's palate.)

stpauler
08-13-2004, 11:40 AM
Wouldn't that be the rolling "r" as in the Spanish "r"? (BTW, it's palate.)
Damn homonyms. It was right in my head, of course ;) .

The spanish rolling "r" or "rr"* (http://spanish.about.com/library/weekly/aa092099.htm) is a bit different. Assuming that you mean the "r" that is at the beginning of a word or the "rr" in the middle of a word. (A single "r" in the middle of a word has a different pronunciation than the former). The spanish "r"/"rr" uses the alveolar trill or flap (http://campusprogram.com/reference/en/wikipedia/s/sa/sampa_chart.html) which according to the next website is just using the hard palate as what we're really talking about here is rhotics. (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/rhotics) As far as I can tell using the terminology from the rhotics page, the way I was taught to pronounce the "r" in gyro was to go from the alveolar tap to a velar approximant.





*When I was taking Spanish in High School, we were taught that "rr" was a letter onto itself, but according to that website, it's not. Hmph.

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