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Thread: How do you pronounce "ukulele"?

  1. #1
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    Default How do you pronounce "ukulele"?

    I say "oo koo lay lay" or "ook" for short, probably because here in San Diego, there are a good number of Hawaiian speakers.

    But when posting on UU or on Facebook, I feel that writing "an ukulele" will sound odd to most people. So I find myself writing around it by saying "the ukulele" or "your uke."

    I want to be honest, though. I am an "ooker."

  2. #2
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    I mean, I'm willing to go over it again, but here are eleven pages of it to read if you want.
    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...t-ukulele-quot

    In Iowa I use the non Hawaiian you ku le le. I'm sorry, oo koo le le with a Midwest accent just sounds silly. In Puerto Rico, when I'm speaking Spanish, I use the Hawaiian pronunciation, just because in Spanish the U is never pronounced like "you".
    Last edited by Rllink; 08-11-2017 at 05:57 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Thank you, no need to apologize for how you say it, seems like the anglicized version took hold a long time ago.

    I also realize others have asked the question over the years. But I was looking to hear from people who are here today. Friday and all. I think the internet can handle one more thread.

  4. #4
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    I think it sounds ridiculous when the Hawaiian pronunciation is used by those not of that heritage or who aren't in a specific geographic location where it is the majority/common/accepted pronunciation. I'm in the upper mid-west and pronounce it "you-kah-lay-lee".
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmfitzsimons View Post
    Thank you, no need to apologize for how you say it, seems like the anglicized version took hold a long time ago.

    I also realize others have asked the question over the years. But I was looking to hear from people who are here today. Friday and all. I think the internet can handle one more thread.
    I don't mind talking about it. I think that we would be hard pressed to find any subject that hasn't been talked about before. If we don't keep bringing things up no one would post anything. There is just eleven pages there if you are interested. That's all.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
    There's more than one road into Richmond. Lil' Rev
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LEY9E_W5sw

  6. #6
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    I don't have strong feelings, but Hawaiian is not some dead language, and the word itself is only 120 or so years old, so it doesn't strike me as ridiculous to say it that way.... but yeah, as mentioned, I have found myself succumbing to the tide online and avoiding the telltale "an ukulele," so to Mike's point, I can relate.

    No more, tho. I am planting a flag, and will shout it from the roofs of Des Moines if needed. Because the truth is, "ookulele" is more fun to say. It just is. Try it.

  7. #7
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    Call me ridiculous, but I grew up in Hawaii and anything other than oo koo sounds wrong to me.

    BTW, 'uku means small, and also lice or flea. So names like UkuFred or UkuJoe invariably make me LMAO. No offense intended to anyone.

    I suppose that the English language belongs to all and any common useage is acceptable, more or less.
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  8. #8
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    The original pronunciation was by people of a certain language, they also call a train something different than a 'train'.
    In their language it is an 'ukulele, to others, as myself, who are not of that culture, it is a ukulele.
    English, or a form of it, is an International Language, like it or not, so most people around the world call it by the English pronunciation.
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  9. #9
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    Interesting topic. I for one try and pronounce it with the original pronunciation from where it originated. While I can see how or why people look at the word and pronounce it the way they do, I try to honor the original pronunciation. Just like other words that were borrowed from other languages that are common now in the English language i.e. tortilla, gyro, quesadilla, ballet, cafe, lingerie, etc.. We could pronounce how we were taughted to pronounce words in English but I feel it does lose something...
    Last edited by deznuchs; 08-11-2017 at 01:31 PM.
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  10. #10
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    I actually switch pronunciations depending upon whom I speaking with. With me and my husband it's an oo-koo-leh-leh, but when speaking with others they almost universally refer to it as a you-kou-lay-lay, so I just go with the flow. That's better then having someone reply, "your what?" or try to correct my pronunciation when I say it with an "oo". (Don't get me started on pronouncing "capo".) Ironically, I pronounce the shortened form 90% of the time as "youk".
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