How to Say Things Without Sounding Like an Idiot

Today’s rant will focus on something that really ticks me off: poor pronunciation. I don’t mind when someone has trouble pronouncing a difficult word, but some of these are just inexcusable.

  • McAfee – People say this “MAC-afee,” with the emphasis on the “MAC.” First off, it’s not even “Mac,” it’s “Mc,” which is pronounced so as to rhyme with “stick,” not “crack.” Speaking of that, why do they sell a “Big Mac” at McDonald’s? Shouldn’t it be a “Big Mc?” Oh, and it’s sure as hell not “Macafree.”
  • Asterisk – Okay folks, this one is just plain inexcusable. I’ve heard the name of the popular open-source telephony server pronounced “as-ter-iks,” and “as-ter-ik.” Hello? When did an ‘s’ which preceeds a ‘k’ become silent in this language? And since when do we swap their places so that “sk” sounds like “ks?” Unless you be talkin’ ebonics, where we “axe” you a question, asterisk is pronounced “as-ter-isk.”
  • Linux – This one is sort of flexible. Since it’s a mix of “Linus” (as in Torvalds) and “Unix,” one could pronounce it “LINE-ooks” which rhymes with the American English pronounciation of “Linus.” However, in Europe, the name is usually pronounced “LIN-oos,” so calling it “LIN-ooks” works too. However, if you do this, you should pronounce his name “LIN-oos” instead of “LINE-oos” to be consistent. Oh, an to the math teacher in Randolph, Vermont who called it “Lan-X,” I have no idea where you got that.
  • Debian – Take the names “Deb” and “Ian”, and put then together to get “deb-e-an.” Not “deeb-e-an” and not “deb-e-on.”
  • Suse – To get the pronounciation of a German Linux distro, I consulted an authority – a German. She said you would say Suse as “Soo-seh.” It doesn’t rhyme with (Dr.) Seuss, or “Sooza” and sure does not sound like “Susie.”
  • Ubuntu – To pronounce a word from an African language, I decided to check with someone from Africa. How about we ask, say, Mark Shuttleworth, the guy who started Canonical and Ubuntu? It’s “oo-BOON-too” (with each syllable rhyming). Not “yoo-boon-too, “”oo-BUN-too,” and surely not “yoo-bun-too.”
  • PostgreSQL – “Post-gres-que-elle.” You don’t say the “Postgre” portion without the “SQL,” so there’s nothing that sounds like “postgray.”

That’s it for now. More to come, I’m sure.