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Thread: How do you pronounce "ukulele"?

  1. #11
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    I pronounce it both ways. I'm based in the UK and yoo-koo-lay-ley is widely understood. However, I speak Spanish too so, oo-koo-leh-leh also very much works for me, and I prefer it, but it can sound "a bit poncy" in an English accent.

    It really doesn't matter, just enjoy playing however you pronounce the instrument

  2. #12
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    This is an interesting topic!

    I say yook-ulele because thats the way Ive always heard it pronounced here in the states. In my peabrain I started wondering why its not spelled ookulele if its hawaiian. I went over to ask google and pushed the pronunciation button forgetting I had my speakers turned up full blast. When the lady said Yook-a-lay-lee I about jumped out of my skin!

    I did find this article very interesting and realized you have to know the native language rule of spelling and the importance of the accent mark ( 'okina) in their language. https://liveukulele.com/ukulele-info...ng-of-ukulele/
    Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

  3. #13
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    This pronunciation thing reminds me of a joke. What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle? Answer: a violin has strings, while a fiddle has "straanngs" (pronounced with a Southern accent).

  4. #14
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    I say you kuh lay lee because I'm from Ohio and people look at me funny if I don't. I also say Hah no loo loo for Honolulu instead of Ho no loo loo. But it isn't just Hawaiian where I don't use correct pronunciation. I say Pair is Fraaans instead of Pair ee Frahns. And I studied French for years. If I lived in Hawaii, I would use the original pronunciation of ukulele and I would say Pair ee when in France.
    Laura

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  5. #15
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    ^^^
    I happen to speak French fluently and it has taught me a few things. Those French folks have different words for a bunch of things!
    For example, the city of London is "Londres" and when I am speaking French I say "Londres" and not London. Conversely, when speaking English, I say Paris, with an ess at the end.

    I speak a little Spanish too, but when I order a burrito at Taco Bell, I do not trill my Rs. If I were in Mexico ordering a burrito I would though!

    So, I pretty much have to accept that when English speakers say ukulele, it will usually have a Y sound at the beginning.
    I usually pronounce it ukulele, Hawaiian style, because I live in Hawaii. But I am not pretentious about it and I don't correct anybody or anything.
    I am also not a fan of uke (or ook) but that is just me.
    Kimo Hussey says uke all the time (with a Y sound at the beginning), but uses the Hawaiian pronunciation for ukulele. So I follow his example.

    Also, just for fun, you may wish to consider this:
    the okina (`) is a consonant in the Hawaiian language, so `uku is a different word than uku.

    `ukulele translates more or less as the "jumping flea" we are all familiar with.
    ukulele translates as "gift from afar" and there are those who say that is also a possibility of the origin of the word.

    Which one is actually correct? We may never know.
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pueo View Post


    `ukulele translates more or less as the "jumping flea" we are all familiar with.
    ukulele translates as "gift from afar" and there are those who say that is also a possibility of the origin of the word.

    Which one is actually correct? We may never know.
    Haha, lovely! I like the "gift from afar" idea... the Portuguese connection is often overlooked.

    But we do know for sure, don't we? I mean, the history is so recent, we have contemporary writings showing the use of the okina. My understanding is the Kamaka family can trace a line back even before the term, to one of the first immigrants from Madeira who started the dominoes tumbling...
    Last edited by mmfitzsimons; 08-11-2017 at 11:46 AM.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayfarer75 View Post
    I say you kuh lay lee because I'm from Ohio and people look at me funny if I don't..
    Perhaps, but at this point you are most likely holding an ukulele, so I'm afraid the battle to not look funny has already been lost.

    Kidding! An uke is the coolest accessory on Earth!

  8. #18
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    I've answered this before, but - I live in Los Angeles, and even though I know how to pronounce it in Spanish, I pronounce it the Americanized way. My first name is French, but I pronounce it the Americanized way. And I play ukulele, but pronounce it the mainland way. Except when I'm in Hawaii, which sadly doesn't happen often enough

    That being said - now that I think about it, my second language is Japanese and since I grew up speaking it, I pronounce Japanese words that have entered the English language the correct Japanese way because it feels unnatural and wrong to do otherwise. (It's not carry-okie!) So I guess as usual, I'm full of contradictions.

  9. #19
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  10. #20
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    Mike, I got your point when you said those of who pronounce it differently from you sound "ridiculous." Now we're "pretentious" ?

    Lighten up, my friend. It's really not a big deal how other people pronounce it, I promise.

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