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Thread: hyperbole (pronunciation)

  1. #1
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    hyperbole (pronunciation)

    How did "hyperbole" get its (to me) unusual pronounciation? Most words beginning with "hyper" have the accent on the first syllable, not the second. Also, words with "ole" are usually pronounced like sole, mole, pole, etc., not like "olee". My only guess is its similarity to hyperbola, so the prounciation is similar.

  2. #2
    It's a word of ancient Greek origin that has come to us via Latin.

    The "hyper" part means "above" and "ballo" means "I throw".

    A lot of ancient Greek words ending in e are pronounced with a long "ee" sound. Think, for example, of the names of Greek gods and mythological figures, like Persephone (per-sef-on-ee) or Calliope (Call-eye-o-pee).

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mathman View Post
    How did "hyperbole" get its (to me) unusual pronounciation? Most words beginning with "hyper" have the accent on the first syllable, not the second.
    As JR noted, hyper- is a Greek morpheme and most English words that start with it are of Greek origin. (Exceptions are recent hybrid coinages like "hyperinflation.") Therefore we're at the mercy of Greek phonetics. In addition to hyperbola and hyperbole, the name of the mythical Greek figure Hyperion also has the accent on the second syllable.
    Also, words with "ole" are usually pronounced like sole, mole, pole, etc., not like "olee".
    Yes, but those three words are of Latin origin, not Greek, and they arrived in English via French, in which final E's are silent. If you lived in the USA you'd be familiar with the Mexican avocado-based sauce called guacamole, in which the final letters are pronounced MOH-lay.

    American English has the infuriating custom of assimilating foreign words complete with both their foreign pronunciation and foreign spelling, even when the spelling rules of the other language are not the same as ours. The British pronounce Nazi with a soft Z, NAW-zee. We pronounce it in correct German, NAH-tsee. We pronounce tequila in proper Spanish, teh-KEE-la. They say tee-KWILL-a.

    Of course we both say jaguar wrong, JAG-wahr versus JAG-yoo-er. The correct Spanish pronunciation is kha-GWAR.

  4. #4
    The British pronounce Nazi with a soft Z, NAW-zee. We pronounce it in correct German, NAH-tsee. We pronounce tequila in proper Spanish, teh-KEE-la. They say tee-KWILL-a.
    They do?

    In most instances, British pronunciation is identical to Australian pronunciation, and in Australia it is certainty NAH-tsee and te-KEE-la.

  5. #5
    O͓͍̯̬̯̙͈̟̥̳̩͒̆̿ͬ̑̀̓̿͋ͬ ̙̳ͅ ̫̪̳͔O Steve100's Avatar
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    Tis here too (England)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by mathman View Post
    How did "hyperbole" get its (to me) unusual pronounciation? Most words beginning with "hyper" have the accent on the first syllable, not the second. Also, words with "ole" are usually pronounced like sole, mole, pole, etc., not like "olee". My only guess is its similarity to hyperbola, so the prounciation is similar.
    That's exactly how I pronounce it..
    Accent on the first syllable of 'hyper', and 'ole' as in 'mole'.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    The British pronounce Nazi with a soft Z, NAW-zee. We pronounce it in correct German, NAH-tsee. We pronounce tequila in proper Spanish, teh-KEE-la. They say tee-KWILL-a.
    Never heard people say 'naw-zee', it's always a hard 'z' NAH-tsee, and Tequila (It makes me happy) is pronounced teh-KEE-la by Brits, including the linked songsters.

  8. #8
    Registered Senior Member FreshHat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    The British pronounce Nazi with a soft Z, NAW-zee. We pronounce it in correct German, NAH-tsee. We pronounce tequila in proper Spanish, teh-KEE-la. They say tee-KWILL-a.

    Then you have Procul Harum, with their 1960s hit, the title of which they pronounced "Con-kwiss-tador".

  9. #9
    Whose Worth's unknown Cellar_Door's Avatar
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    So how exactly are you meant to pronounce 'hyperbole'?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Cellar_Door View Post
    So how exactly are you meant to pronounce 'hyperbole'?
    Like I do, of course !

  11. #11
    Whose Worth's unknown Cellar_Door's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Enmos

    Like I do, of course !
    So it rhymes with 'diaper-mole'?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Cellar_Door View Post
    So it rhymes with 'diaper-mole'?
    You got it!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by James R View Post
    In most instances, British pronunciation is identical to Australian pronunciation, and in Australia it is certainty NAH-tsee and te-KEE-la.
    In newsreels Churchill said NAW-zee. At least that's what I've been told, I was too young. Perhaps the generations who grew up after WWII learned to pronounce it more properly. And I've heard tee-QUILL-a in British movies, but that was many years ago and perhaps they've improved on that too. But they still say JAG-yoo-er.
    Quote Originally Posted by FreshHat
    Then you have Procul Harum, with their 1960s hit, the title of which they pronounced "Con-kwiss-tador".
    Not to mention Byron's famous poem "Don Juan," which must be read as Don JOO-uhn to make the meter and rhyme work. The British are famous for pronouncing French correctly, but not other languages. Their Latin is just plain silly, since they pronounce V as W as in Classical Latin, but then pronounce all the vowels as if they were English.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cellar_Door View Post
    So how exactly are you meant to pronounce 'hyperbole'?
    According to Dictionary.com it's high-PURR-buh-lee and there is no alternative pronunciation. I'd be very surprised if a British reference gives more leeway than ours.

  14. #14
    I'd be confident in saying that there's near universal agreement that "hyperbole" is pronounced high-PURR-buh-lee, as Fraggle said.

  15. #15
    Be kind to yourself always. cosmictraveler's Avatar
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    That just sounds stupid lol

  17. #17
    I, and everyone I know, pronounce it like this:

    Hyper bole

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Enmos View Post
    That just sounds stupid lol
    Why? The closest word to it in our language is hyperbola, which has the identical stress pattern. Even if it didn't, our language is full of pairs of Greek words that have different stress patterns, such as autonomous and autonomic or geography and geographic. Even among native Anglo-Saxon words, we have FOR-ward and for-GET.
    I, and everyone I know, pronounce it like this:. . . . hyper. . . . bole
    But you can't do that with English words. You can't break them apart and assume that the pronunciation of the individual pieces will correctly aggregate into the pronunciation of the entire word.

    Besides, "bole" as an individual word is of Latin origin, whereas the -bole in hyperbole is of Greek origin. They're two different words! We got the Latin word second-hand via French, in which the second syllable had already fallen silent. The Greek word came through classical scholars and the original Greek pronunciation was preserved much more faithfully.

    Perhaps some day your slang pronunciation will become standard, but today it is not. As I pointed out earlier, it is not even noted in American dictionaries, which are notorious for caving in to popular pressure, e.g., listing "dove" as an alternative past tense for "dive" without so much as a derogatory comment.

    So I would strongly advise you not to say the word that way in an interview, a presentation, an important meeting, a university class, or any situation where you would like people to defer to your educational authority.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    Why? The closest word to it in our language is hyperbola, which has the identical stress pattern. Even if it didn't, our language is full of pairs of Greek words that have different stress patterns, such as autonomous and autonomic or geography and geographic. Even among native Anglo-Saxon words, we have FOR-ward and for-GET.
    I don't know. It just does. And I guess it sounds weird to pretty much everyone that has Dutch as a native language as well because I've never heard it being pronounced that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    But you can't do that with English words. You can't break them apart and assume that the pronunciation of the individual pieces will correctly aggregate into the pronunciation of the entire word.

    Besides, "bole" as an individual word is of Latin origin, whereas the -bole in hyperbole is of Greek origin. They're two different words! We got the Latin word second-hand via French, in which the second syllable had already fallen silent. The Greek word came through classical scholars and the original Greek pronunciation was preserved much more faithfully.
    I just posted it like that so people can hear what I meant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    Perhaps some day your slang pronunciation will become standard, but today it is not. As I pointed out earlier, it is not even noted in American dictionaries, which are notorious for caving in to popular pressure, e.g., listing "dove" as an alternative past tense for "dive" without so much as a derogatory comment.

    So I would strongly advise you not to say the word that way in an interview, a presentation, an important meeting, a university class, or any situation where you would like people to defer to your educational authority.
    Perhaps, but the teachers here say it like that as well..

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