So a recent mailing list thread about differences in pronunciation of certain geographical locations got me thinking about all the games that I have which have been pronounced in different ways, and as I go through that list, I wonder if I am saying the names like everyone else? Some of the geographic examples in the inciting thread were:
- Versailles, Kentucky (pronounced Ver-sales)
- Mexia, Texas (MEE-hair)
- Leicester, England (Less-ter)
- Happisburgh in Suffolk, England? It’s pronounced Hays-burr-uh.
So, this made me look at my game collection and come up with a list of games that I’ve heard pronounced different ways. A majority of the games here are place names, and I think that the variant pronunciations derive more from the American habit of not wanting to say foreign words as they would sound in their native country than anything else.
In this list, I’m mostly ignoring the umlauts – I know that I say those wrong, but I just can’t make myself shape my mouth into the right shape… So, for instance, Fürstenfeld is pronounced without the changed vowel in the first syllable. I’d say the title with “Furr-sten-feld” when in reality that ü has a sound more like the u in urethane… so it should sound more like “fewer-sten-feld” – though even that isn’t quite right… If I included every game that I’ve heard mispronounced due to an umlaut, this would be almost neverending!
A lot of the remaining pronunciation differences revolve around whether or not to use the German or American way of saying words… For instance – do words that begin with a “W” sound like a “wuh-” sound or a “V” sound? If it begins with an “s”, do I use an s-sound or a z-sound?
I apologize in advance about the pronunciation examples below. I’m trying to use phonetic explanations because I don’t want to have to figure out how to make those pronunciation symbols show up in this blog nor do I feel like I’m ever really sure how to say a word when I read all those weird symbols.
1. Tichu – ah, let’s start with the age old debate. TEE-choo, TEE-shoo or TEE-koo. Most folks that I know, myself included say (TEE-choo). However, when you talk to the Fata Morgana people at Essen — you know, the people that publish it — they all say (TEE-koo). Funny how they manage to still say it wrong after all these years!
2. Settlers of Catan – how do you say the final syllable? Is it cuh-TAHN or cuh-TAN? The Mayfair guys go with the drawn out vowel sound in the first choice.
3. Ys – The first of many Ystari games on this list. I most often hear this with a long E sound (EEEEss) but sometimes with a short I sound – like the word hiss, but without the h – so (isss)
4. Troyes – I took French in grade school, and from what I remember from that, this city name should sound something like (twaa). But I’ve found that, so far, everytime I’ve said it that way, I get nothing but blank stares. Then I say (TROY-ess) and everyone knows what I’m talking about…
5. Peloponnes – (Pell-oh-ponz) or (Pell-oh-poh-ness)? Maybe (Pell-oh-poh-neez)?
6. Cyclades – (SIGH-clods) or (SIGH-cla-deez). Well, or I could be more Greek about it… then it would be (Sick-lah-deez). I think the last option is right.
7. Preußische Ostbahn – I think it’s just the eszett (ß) that throws people off. Once you know that’s just a double-S, it’s not too bad. Though I still wonder if the second word is “ahst-bahn” or “ohst-bahn”
8. Tahuantinsuyu – this one is just a tongue twister. When I try, it’s often “Ta-hua-a-hua” or something garbled like that. Alan Ernstein has told me on multiple occasions that it’s easy to pronounce if you just read it slow… Ta-hoo’ah-tin-soo-yoo. I just can’t do it.
9. Amyitis – More Ystari. Maybe it’s all those Y’s and S’s? I think it’s supposed to be (Uh-mee-tiss). But I often hear (A-mee-eye-tiss) – as if it were a disease and sometimes (eh-MY-tiss) and even (eh-MY-ee-tiss). Egads. So confusing.
10. Adel Verpflichtet – This gets butchered for all sorts of reasons. First, it’s long, and typical of German words, it has too many consonants. Second, it’s hard to remember that V’s in German sound like F’s. So I think this would be (A-dell fur-plish-tet). But it’s more common for me to hear (A-dell vurr-plick-tet). I split the difference and pronounce this (By-hook-or-by-crook).
11. Yspahan – (iss-pa-han) or (EEES-pa-han) or (iss-fa-han). I’m starting to think all Ystari games need to come with a thumbdrive in the box with a .mp3 pronunciation guide preloaded on it!
12. Le Havre – another french town that gets mangled. How to say “Havre” – (hov-ruh) or (hov) or something different entirely? Again, my grade school French tells me that Havre should be two syllables, and the H sound should be dropped. In addition, the article kind get squished together with the first syllable, so it’s something like (lay’AV-ruh)
13. Agricola – if you’re latin, you’d say (Uh-gree-ko-lah). If you’re thirsty, you might say (Ag-ree-ko-la). If you’re me, you’d say (uh-grik-uh-la).
14. Wallenstein – Two problems here… does it start with a V sound or a W sound. Then, how does it end… (stine), (stheen) or (steen). I go with (VALL-en-stheen) and try to sound as German as possible without knowing if I actually am correct or not.
15. Caylus – confusion on both syllables here… Does it start with a long A or long I sound – (kay) vs. (ki). Is the second syllable (luss) or (loos) or (lews). Dang you, Cyril!
16. Vinci – (VIN-chee) or (VIN-kee). I’ve even heard it called (WIN-kee). I go with Vin-chee.
17. Antike – (An-tee-KAY) or (An-tee-KUH)
18. DVONN – is this one or two syllables? Is the D sound elongated or not? (DEE-vonn) or (d’vonn)
19. Mykerinos – could this possibly be the last Ystari game on the list? (Mee-ker-ee-nos) or (mick-ur-ee-nos) or (Mih-CARE-ee-nos)
20. La Citta – how italian are you? (see-tah) or (chee-tah). I’m a chee-tah guy.
21. Blokus – it’s a compound name of some sort…. (Blow-cuss) or (Block-us). My kids say Block-us, so that’s what we call it around here.
22. Meuterer – (MOY-ter-reh) vs (Myoo-ter-reh). I think the first is right.
23. Medici – those crazy Italians! (med-UH-chee) or (meh-DEE-chee). As a European History major, I’ve always pronounced it as in the name of that old ruling family in Venice…
24. Condottiere – (kahn-dih-TYER-ay) or (kohn-DOH-tee-air). This may have actually been the first game that I owned that I wasn’t sure at all how to pronounce.
25. Merkator – (Merr-KAY-terr) is how I used to say it. Then Hanno from Lookout told me that he says (MEHR-cah-torr) – with the first syllable pronounced like a mare (the horse)
26. Subbuteo – does it end with (TEE-oh) or (TAY-oh)? Either way, without an EYE-run to flatten the board, this one is hard to play.
27. Funkenschlag – (FUNK-en-schlag) or (FOONK-en-schlag). Most players around here just call it German Power Grid.
28. R-Eco – is it (eh-ko) like a reverberating sound? Or a long E sound (EEE-ko)
29. Bolide – (Boh-leed), (Boh-lee-day), or (Boh-lied)
30. Famiglia – When I see this, I think of an Italian word and say (Fuh-MEE-LEE-yuh), though I know Henning for 2F says (Fuh-mig-LEE-uh)
31. Rummikub – more final syllable issues – does it end like a baby bear or a geometric shape? (rum-MEE-kub) or (rum-MEE-kyoob)
32. Crokinole – I have always said (CROW-kin-nohl) but when I was recently in Canada, I heard many folks say (CROCK-inn-nawl)
33. Hellas – I usually say this (HELL-us), but apparently if I knew what I was talking about, I’d pronounce it (AY-loss)
34. Dixit – this Spiel des Jahres winner causes all sorts of confusion around the table as well. (DIK-zit) or (DIKS-it) are the most common ways that I hear the game pronounced. However, when I was in Essen, (DEEK-sit) was the way many of the Europeans would say it.
35. *Rio Grande Games – most people I know use a silent “e” in Grande. When you talk to Jay Tummelson, it’s definitely (REE-oh grahn-DAY games) not (REE-oh grand games)
36. *Z-man – Took me awhile at Essen to figure out who my English friends were talking about when they mentioned (Zed-man). Somehow, the Canadians manage this better despite the fact that they call the last letter in the alphabet “zed”.
Can you think of any others? If so, tell us in the comments…
Do you pronounce these games in even different ways? (Because… of course, there’s no guarantee that how I choose to say them is correct at all!)
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor