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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mangled Greek

Approaching a word I don't know how to pronounce, I pull out an arsenal:

I took French and Spanish in high school. In college, I took two years of Italian. I did ten months of yoga training and had to learn the poses by their traditional names, so there's a smattering of Sanskrit.

The kids and I dabbled in Mandarin Chinese last semester (all I remember is the first word we learned).

All this simmers on a base of an American-Midwest accent.  I can't even sound charming or endearing like the British or American Southerners do. They say it their own way. I mispronounce it. My consonants are hard and my vowels are inconsistent. I sound like a square, even when I know how to say the word.

We're studying Ancient Greece now, and there's a nagging sense that I'm getting a lot of words wrong. We  read the Illiad, watched Jim Henson's Greek Storyteller series (ah, that's how to pronounce Eurydice), and have just begun reading the Odyssey.

Two chapters in and the stumbling has begun. Take Nausicaa. Extend the "a" sound a bit at the end, right? The king Alcinous would sound similar to "all sinuous." Then there's Euryalus. It's rare to get stopped up reading aloud, but this one put me into a stutter. I sounded like a car refusing to start:

your-EE
yourEEah
yourAHL
your uh
your uh
your uh...

There's an antidote to freewheeling utterances:

howjsay.com

Type in a word--or a name!--and it says it for you.

It's "naw-SICK-ee-uh" not "NAWS-ick-uuuh." (Nausicaa). It's "ahl-SIN-ohs" not "all-SIN-OO-US" (Alcinous). Euryalus isn't listed. I will have to do my best.

Perhaps affecting a British accent will help.

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