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Steve Slatcher

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Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Steve Slatcher » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:11 pm

There have been quite a few requests for information about pronunciation here, so I thought I'd post a link to what seems like a good guide.

http://www.thewinesociety.com/grape-pronounce

To me, most voices sound native to the country of the name of the grape, but I thought Chardonnay sounded British English rather than French so there might be one or two others like that.
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Tim York

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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Tim York » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:08 am

Steve, I think that it is a Brit saying the French names; the intonation doesn't sound to me quite authentic. She indeed makes no effort to pronounce Chardonnay in a French style but does try to get a South Western tang on Gros Manseng. By and large I don't think any Brit (or American) not brought up bilingually could do better and therefore I think they are suitable for imitation.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Peter May » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:58 pm

We don't pronounce 'Paris' in the same way as the French do either.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Steve Slatcher » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:50 pm

I think the important thing is to pronounce the varieties roughly like your peer group. I note that Americans pronounce many French varieties different to Brits, and why not? Neither of them are French pronunciations however much we would like to kid ourselves.

Some things stand out as being wrong, like pronouncing the first vowel in Riesling to rhyme with eye. But pronouncing varieties like a native (which is anyway difficult to define in some cases) in the middle of an English sentence also often sounds out-of-place, and is very difficult to do even for those fluent in both languages.

But I would find it interesting to know the background of the speakers. Maybe I'll directly ask TWS at some point.

I think I found the guide most useful for the grapes from places like Central and Eastern Europe, where I really have no clue at all. It is all to easy just to read the names without even thinking about pronouncing them!
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Richard Fadeley » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:31 pm

Here is a website that will give you the proper pronunciation for most any word in any language:
http://www.forvo.com
Very helpful. Try Bourgueill or even Muscadet. You might be surprised. Think of music and how you pronounce the 1st syllable of music.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Tim York » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:42 am

Steve Slatcher wrote:
But pronouncing varieties like a native (which is anyway difficult to define in some cases) in the middle of an English sentence also often sounds out-of-place, and is very difficult to do even for those fluent in both languages.



That's a good point. I think that the pronunciations offered by TWS fit that bill; the French names not being, to my ear, fully native sounding so unobtrusive in an (British) English sentence, but close enough not to offend the natives.

I am a regular listener to French (and French Belgian)television and radio (including their cultural programmes) and am offended :evil: by their complete lack of effort (it may even be deliberate) to pronounce English (and other foreign) names in a manner comprehensible for someone whose ear is not attuned to French. It seems to me a form of arrogance. At least BBC3 makes a valiant effort even though the results are sometimes bizarre. Exemplary are the Dutch language programmes where English language names are usually impeccably pronounced and a decent try is made at French, German, etc.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Peter May » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:14 am

Is there only one 'correct' way to pronounce a word? Do all French people pronounce 'Merlot' exactly the same way? I don't think so.

I know that some languages use an array of accent symbols to indicate pronunciation of certain letters, but English doesn't.

If my wife and I were asked by a non English language speaker to record the correct pronunciation of some English words we wouldn't say them the same as each other, especially ones with the letter 'a', for example:

grass - gr-ass & gr-arse
castle - c-ass-ell & cars-all

scone - sk-on & sk-own

I can't (car-nt & can-t) see its worth worrying too much that one doesn't say a foreign word precisely like a native of that country when one is communicating with someone from your own country and you both understand each other.*

Rise-ling - Rees-ling? The Reesling pronunciation follows English pronunciation rules as used in field and yield.


*But it does indicate, when someone says Rise-ling and pronounces the 'T' in Merlot, that they know less about wine than we do. :)
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Robin Garr » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:14 pm

Peter May wrote:car-nt

Carnt? What language says it this way, please?
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Tim York » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:59 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Peter May wrote:car-nt

Carnt? What language says it this way, please?


The British English of the sort which used to be known as BBC English, before that organisation encouraged regional accents amongst its reporters. I say car-nt but it may now sound old-fashioned :? .
Last edited by Tim York on Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:15 am

Tym, yu efer bean to Nucastle?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sumStCchdn8
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Tim York » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:25 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Tym, yu efer bean to Nucastle?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sumStCchdn8


Yes, Bob, I have and often to nearby Teesside where the company I worked for had a big industrial site. I can understand it as long as they don't lapse into the full dialect.
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Fredrik L » Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:27 am

I do think it is decent help for wine amateurs but I most certainly would not give it to my French students. Why she pronounces "Chardonnay" in a British manner and tries "Gros Manseng" in a phony local accent really beats me. There are of course regional differences - albeit not even close to the ones you find in British English - but no Frenchman no matter where he lives says "Chardonnay" like that. :lol:

And do not ge me started on her lack of z-sound... :evil:

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Steve Slatcher » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:08 am

Fredrik L wrote:Why she pronounces "Chardonnay" in a British manner and tries "Gros Manseng" in a phony local accent really beats me.

Perhaps because Chardonnay is so common (e.g. it can also be a girl's forename) that it is practically an English word? IMO it would sound pretty pretentious to attempt a French accent when talking about Chardonnay in English. I think I would frenchify the less common varieties more than the common ones.

I don't know if that is indeed the reason, but I wouldn't assume it is an error, or out of ignorance.

It would be interesting to hear some place/region names too. I wonder if Gigondas would have the "s", and how Hermitage sounds,
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Steve Slatcher » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:14 am

Tim York wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:
Peter May wrote:car-nt

Carnt? What language says it this way, please?


The British English of the sort which used to known as BBC English, before that organisation encouraged regional accents amongst its reporters. I say car-nt but it may now sound old-fashioned :? .

I think most Brits would pronounce it that way - with a long a, rather than an r you can hear, of course.

In the "good old days" I think the BBC would ban the abbreviation completely :)
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Robin Garr » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:23 pm

Steve Slatcher wrote:I think most Brits would pronounce it that way - with a long a, rather than an r you can hear, of course.

In the "good old days" I think the BBC would ban the abbreviation completely :)

Ahhh! Separated by a common language again! :lol:

Of course I could not separate sound from orthography, and was struggling with why anyone would say "carrrrrnt" with an American (or Scottish) burr on the rrrrr.

Perhaps we could find common ground on "Cahnt"?
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Re: Pronunciation of grape varieties

by Tim York » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:47 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Steve Slatcher wrote:I think most Brits would pronounce it that way - with a long a, rather than an r you can hear, of course.

In the "good old days" I think the BBC would ban the abbreviation completely :)

Ahhh! Separated by a common language again! :lol:

Of course I could not separate sound from orthography, and was struggling with why anyone would say "carrrrrnt" with an American (or Scottish) burr on the rrrrr.

Perhaps we could find common ground on "Cahnt"?


Sorry, we speakers using "received" (formerly BBC) English pronunciation tend to forget that other English speakers (including those of some English regions, let alone the Scots and Americans) do not share our often mute "r".

Returning to my rant on French mangling of English names, this morning a French news anchor referred to a British minister, Monsieur Arg! :twisted: Anyone guess his real name? Hint for the Brits; he was meeting John Kerry.

Apologies for continuing thread drift.
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