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Thread: How do you pronounce "ukulele"?

  1. #41
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    English is a language where we like to have a single way of spelling a word, but you can say it in whatever way fits the context of the sentence you use it in. Dialects and differing pronunciation are a part of the rich culture around the spoken English language across the planet. So as long as you get the spelling and context right, it does not matter how you say it in English language, what matters is that the person you are talking to understands what you are saying.
    I don't know much about Hawaiian language. I have read that it is an oral tradition with no alphabet and that the written Hawaiian words we see were actually made up by colonists based on a phonetic spelling process. I have also read that just like spoken English, spoken Hawaiian is a contextual language with inflections and some ambiguity scattered through it, so the meaning of what you say is not just dependent on spelling (they did not have spelling before colonisation), it is about how you say the words. If you really want to respect the native Hawaiians perhaps it would be best to get instruction directly from a Hawaiian elder or teacher who is part of the culture and can teach you all the nuances and ambiguities of the entire language, not just one word which is printed on a label in a musical instrument.
    If you are just a punter who loves playing the ukulele, using spoken English, maybe just use the pronunciation which suits the context of your sentence and whoever you are talking to, which is the rich tradition of speaking English. And there is nothing wrong with day dreaming about warm tropical islands while you mess around with your uke if you want to.
    Also note, that just because UU is an English language based board does not mean that every human on the planet who owns a ukulele is an English speaking person. There are 100s of dialects and languages spoken by ukulele players, and each dialect and language has its own nuances and spelling and punctuation and pronunciation. The only common thing is the lovely noise you get when you hit the strings of a well made and well tuned ukulele, and the music you can make. This is what unifies the world of ukulele, the music.

  2. #42
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  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by maki66 View Post
    BTW, 'uku means small, and also lice or flea. So names like UkuFred or UkuJoe invariably make me LMAO. No offense intended to anyone.
    Thanks for making that point. Pronounce it either way that people around you will recognize without further explanation. But please, NEVER call it an UKU! I crack up every time someone here talks about the "ukus" they have or want. I can just imagine them scratching their heads furiously! We do have plenty of ukus here but it's not really something you want or go around telling people about.
    Chuck Moore
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    http://www.moorebettahukes.com

  4. #44
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    Not even the wikipedia page is immune from the great pronunciation debate : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AUkulele
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  5. #45
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    The way people pronounce many words are truly determined by which point of longitude and latitude they inhabit.
    "All worthwhile things in life should be easy to learn but hard to master"

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  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by maki66 View Post
    BTW, 'uku means small, and also lice or flea. So names like UkuFred or UkuJoe invariably make me LMAO. No offense intended to anyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Moore Bettah Ukuleles View Post
    But please, NEVER call it an UKU! I crack up every time someone here talks about the "ukus" they have or want. I can just imagine them scratching their heads furiously! We do have plenty of ukus here but it's not really something you want or go around telling people about.
    That's always made me laugh. There's a woman in my part of town with a license plate, UKULADY, and I've been asked from time to time if the car is mine. Um... no. No 'uku on this lady!

  7. #47
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    You-ka-lee-lee
    that's how people in greece usually pronounce it

  8. #48
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    Seriously people - vernacular!!!

    Words change pronunciation depending on location. That's just what happens. http://www.gotaukulele.com/2016/04/p...kulele-is.html
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by hollisdwyer View Post
    The way people pronounce many words are truly determined by which point of longitude and latitude they inhabit.
    This does seem to be the takeaway. As a great prophet once said, "Changes in latitude, changes in attitude, nothing remains quite the same..."
    Last edited by mmfitzsimons; 08-14-2017 at 09:51 AM.

  10. #50
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    Just to throw even more fun into this lively discussion, in Tahiti, which is a Polynesian culture colonized by the French, they call ukuleles "Kamakas"
    Kind of like Kleenex, where a single brand ends up being the go-to term for the item itself.

    Tell you what, I will bring it up (etymology, is the `okina present or not, etc.) at the next Ukulele Guild of Hawaii meeting I attend. I have a feeling the Guild will know. The meetings are held at the Bishop Museum, so plenty of research materials nearby to corroborate. As a board member myself, it is important for me to know for sure.
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