PDA

View Full Version : Weird question about grammar...



Skitzic
01-20-2010, 03:20 AM
So in my ukulele researching, I posted on a few boards I stumbled across. I always typed 'a ukulele'. I got ripped apart on the one forum because it should have read 'an ook-oo-lay-li'.

The entire thread turned into a fight about it. My question is, which is correct? Are they both correct?

AH! I ended up buying the Lanikai NK-T tenor by the way...

RevWill
01-20-2010, 03:38 AM
It depends.

There are two general approaches to grammar: prescriptive and descriptive. A prescriptive approach is one in which authoritative experts prescribe proper usage. Descriptive approaches describe the ways language is commonly used.

According to a strict prescriptive approach, an 'ukulele is proper. The word 'ukulele is Hawaiian in origin and should be spoken with the original Hawaiian pronunciation, ook-uh-leh-leh.

However, a descriptive grammar would state that a ukulele is also acceptable, since the word has been almost exclusively pronounced yook-uh-lay-lee in the mainland for a very, very long time.

In a phone conversation with MusicGuyMic, a Hawaiian, he told me "I don't care how you pronounce it as long as I can sell you one!" I'll echo that sentiment and speak for the majority here: most of us don't care how you pronounce it as long as you love it and play the living heck out of it. I like grammar and language, but I also think that grammar snobs are mean. Anyone who uses grammar rules as a way of ripping someone apart is acting like a real douche canoe.

agent61
01-20-2010, 03:39 AM
Wow tough crowd. Must've been a slow day at the forum. ;)

Dallas Pursley
01-20-2010, 03:39 AM
So in my ukulele researching, I posted on a few boards I stumbled across. I always typed 'a ukulele'. I got ripped apart on the one forum because it should have read 'an ook-oo-lay-li'.

The entire thread turned into a fight about it. My question is, which is correct? Are they both correct?

AH! I ended up buying the Lanikai NK-T tenor by the way...

Congrats on your Kanikai. Now, I could be wrong on this but I'm pretty sure that ook-oo-lay-li is how your pronounce ukulele. Ukulele is spelled just like you've been spelling it. Like I said, I could be wrong, but I've never seen it actually spelled like your pronounce it. :p

Kanaka916
01-20-2010, 03:41 AM
This topic has been discussed in several threads . . . you may also find this article "The Correct Spelling of ‘Ukulele" (http://liveukulele.com/ukulele-info/the-correct-spelling-of-ukulele/) to be of interest.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?12021-you-kulele-vs-oo-kulele
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?4501-Ukulele-Pronunciation
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?982-How-do-YOU-pronounce-ukulele

buddhuu
01-20-2010, 04:10 AM
I live and learn.

I'd noticed the ' thing but never understood what was going on with it. That's very interesting. Thanks for the link, Kanaka916. :)

I'll try to remember to spell it the original way in future, but my memory is almost as bad as my playing.

Ukulele JJ
01-20-2010, 04:37 AM
Well put, RevWill. I just wanted to make two points.

Point #1:

Even a prescriptivist might allow for the "yoo-kuh-lay-lee" pronunciation, if they recognized the "English" word as being separate from the "Hawai'ian" word. That is, if they saw "ukulele" as a loanword of foreign origin, rather than as the foreign word itself.

For example, most prescriptivists probably wouldn't get on an English-speaker's case for pronouncing the capital of France as "Pair-iss", even though it would be pronounced "Pah-ree" in its language of origin. They allow for a "correct" English pronunciation that's different from the "correct" French pronunciation.

Actually, as I understand it, a prescriptive approach doesn't necessarily dictate a particular pronunciation at all. It merely says that whatever pronunciation is given is the single, one "correct" one, and that all others are "wrong." A prescriptivist could just as easily champion "yoo-kuh-lay-leh", I suppose. (But does pointing out that distinction make me a prescriptivist? :uhoh: )


Point #2:

"Douche canoe" is an awesome phrase.


JJ

fromthee2me
01-20-2010, 04:48 AM
Good Reply Rev Wil. Somehow "an ukulele" just does not sound right to me either. Skitzic You do get taken to task every now and again. The problem is ( and maybe it is not a problem) that there are some old salts who see the same questions appear from enthusiasts who want to put their paddle in the water as well, and that, or something else irritates them, as the topic has been discussed a few times already (well before the time you and I have joined). The people who organize and control this BB, as well as in other BB's have a FAQ section, and perhaps this question + answer needs to be added. I did try the FAQ facility and typed ukulele spelling but it did not come up with a reply. I am not picking out anybody, but the point I am making is that for as long as I have a hole in my arse, these questions will be asked. Don't discourage these people, they are keen to participate. Elmers are needed !

rreffner
01-20-2010, 04:55 AM
Part of a haole becoming a kama'aina is learning to pronounce words correctly. Ukulele is one. Hawaii and Molokai are other examples; Ha-vi-e, Molo-ki-e, etc. BTW, IMHO one cannot learn to speak 'local' (pigeon). It's something one is brought up speaking.

Skitzic
01-20-2010, 05:09 AM
Thanks for the replies.

I figure as long as I enjoy playing it and I stay out of the islands I'll be fine.

Thanks again!

haolejohn
01-20-2010, 05:17 AM
So in my ukulele researching, I posted on a few boards I stumbled across. I always typed 'a ukulele'. I got ripped apart on the one forum because it should have read 'an ook-oo-lay-li'.

The entire thread turned into a fight about it. My question is, which is correct? Are they both correct?

AH! I ended up buying the Lanikai NK-T tenor by the way...

Ladies and gentelmen, the question isn't about how to read or say or type "ukulele" but what article should come in front of ukulele. Should an A or an An come in front of ukulele when referencing it. I'm no grammar snob (Ian, Ichadwick, is the expert there:)) but normally when a word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y) An is used as an article except when the word begins with a u as in unicorn. Ukulele is not pronounced with a you sound it is actually with an oo sound. So I would use the AN article instead of the A article. But then again I don't know nothing about none of this grammar stuff.

buddhuu
01-20-2010, 05:31 AM
My own take on it is the same as it is with another instrument that I play - the bodhran, an Irish frame drum. Out of respect for the tradition that gave me the instrument I try to stick to original pronunciations and spellings where possible. In the case of the bodhran there is supposed to be an accent over the "a" which I include when hand writing the word, but I don't know how to type it.

Like I say, I try but I sometimes forget, or get it wrong.

Many of the cultures we encounter when getting involved in regional music and its instruments struggle to preserve their languages. My choice is to have a try at referring to the instruments etc in those languages when I can, especially if the audience for my words is likely to include people from those cultures.


@JJ, interesting point about Paris. When speaking with a French person I would certainly use my attempt at the French pronunciation of Paris.

Routinely with friends whose first language is not English I greet them in their own languages (where they have had the patience to teach me!). I find it fun and interesting, and people really seem to appreciate it.

Similarly with new UU members, if I can find out how to welcome them in their local language then I have a go.

I just like different people and different languages.

Ukulele JJ
01-20-2010, 05:36 AM
Ladies and gentelmen, the question isn't about how to read or say or type "ukulele" but what article should come in front of ukulele. Should an A or an An come in front of ukulele when referencing it. I'm no grammar snob (Ian, Ichadwick, is the expert there:)) but normally when a word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y) An is used as an article except when the word begins with a u as in unicorn.

I believe that the "rule" is that one would use the article "an" when a word begins with a vowel sound. That's a different thing from beginning with a letter that's a vowel.

For example, "honor" doesn't begin with a vowel. But you'd still say "it's an honor", because it begins with a vowel sound (the 'h' is silent). And, as you pointed out, some words that do start with a vowel letter--like "unicorn"--nonetheless begin on a consonant sound, and would therefore use the article "a".

Which means that the question of which definite article to use in front of ukulele actually is a question about pronunciation.

JJ

1014
01-20-2010, 05:38 AM
Ladies and gentelmen, the question isn't about how to read or say or type "ukulele" but what article should come in front of ukulele. Should an A or an An come in front of ukulele when referencing it. I'm no grammar snob (Ian, Ichadwick, is the expert there:)) but normally when a word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y) An is used as an article except when the word begins with a u as in unicorn. Ukulele is not pronounced with a you sound it is actually with an oo sound. So I would use the AN article instead of the A article. But then again I don't know nothing about none of this grammar stuff.

what about the `okina? lol.

the bestest most natro kine way fo say um stay "one `ukulele" cheeee

austin1
01-20-2010, 06:12 AM
Which means that the question of which definite article to use in front of ukulele actually is a question about pronunciation.



agreed! reading through this thread, I realized that whenever I saw "an ukulele" I was pronouncing it oo-koo-le-li in my head, but when I saw "a ukulele" I pronounced it "yoo-kuh-le-li." so it really is in the article, whatever you put in front of it changes how I say it...but I normally say "a yoo-kuh-le-li"

uke5417
01-20-2010, 06:19 AM
Why use the English indefinite article when you can use the Hawaiian, which I believe is he ukulele. It's got a very cool and catchy sound to it, too. Perhaps the yookalele and ookulele contingents will get behind it, world peace will break out and we can all get back to sitting down and playing music together. That was the original plan, right?

I can already hear Neil Young singing "He, he, my, my."

1014
01-20-2010, 06:33 AM
Why use the English indefinite article when you can use the Hawaiian, which I believe is he ukulele. It's got a very cool and catchy sound to it, too. Perhaps the yookalele and ookulele contingents will get behind it, world peace will break out and we can all get back to sitting down and playing music together. That was the original plan, right?

I can already hear Neil Young singing "He, he, my, my."

`ae, pololei. he `ukulele (a 'ukulele), ka `ukulele (the `ukulele), na `ukulele (the `ukulele plural with kahako over the second u)

greg_usa
01-20-2010, 06:33 AM
I'd say if you were on a forum where they jumped down your throat over spelling and/or grammar? RUN FOR THE HILLS! Sounds pretty snobby on their part to me - who cares - just play the damn thing :O)

pithaya9
01-20-2010, 06:35 AM
what about the `okina? lol.

the bestest most natro kine way fo say um stay "one `ukulele" cheeee

Seems like most do not use the 'okina. Even the road signs in Hawai'i don't use the correct spelling. LOL

Blrfl
01-20-2010, 07:05 AM
I believe that the "rule" is that one would use the article "an" when a word begins with a vowel sound. That's a different thing from beginning with a letter that's a vowel.

Ding ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winnah!

The "an" construct exists to keep you from stripping a vocal cord when you shift gears between the indefinite article and a noun that starts with a vowel sound. (Short U as in unicorn is the exception, because it sounds like a Y.) Try "a island" and see how awkward it feels. Whether or not you'd use it with ukulele depends on how you pronounce it, and I'm not re-opening that can of worms.

French has a similar gadget where you stick a "T" in the middle of certain interrogative verb formations.

--Mark

wheelgunner
01-20-2010, 07:08 AM
I have always appreciated A.T. Robertsons comment, "grammer is an attempt to explain how language is used, not a set of rules to which language must adhere."

haolejohn
01-20-2010, 07:14 AM
I'd like to reiterate that I don't know nothing about no grammar:)
And to quote Dilmar once again:
"I'm with you fellers."

ProfChris
01-20-2010, 07:56 AM
The "an" construct exists to keep you from stripping a vocal cord when you shift gears between the indefinite article and a noun that starts with a vowel sound.

--Mark

Indeed yes. "Uncle" used to be "nuncle", but over time "a nuncle" transformed into "an uncle".

(If you want to see "nuncle" in the wild, as it were, Shakespeare's King Lear has lots of examples.)

1014
01-20-2010, 08:07 AM
Seems like most do not use the 'okina. Even the road signs in Hawai'i don't use the correct spelling. LOL

shame ah? i used to say Kam too. until i woke up and realized it's disrespectful to ku`u `olelo makuahine, my mother language. sometimes, i feel disheartened that hawai`i and hawaiian culture is no longer for hawaiians.

StereoJoker
01-20-2010, 08:45 AM
Wow. And I thought I was snobbish about grammar. I'm incredibly obsessive-compulsive about English grammar and spelling - to the point where I'll almost involuntarily blurt out a correction if someone screws up his or her subject-verb agreement (it's like a nervous tic), I swear! - so when I saw this thread, I was prepared to unleash my awesome powers.

Until everyone else woke up hours earlier than me and decided to jump in.

Not that I would have been any help anyway, since Hawaiian isn't my native tongue and I am a blasted ignorant American who can only speak English (and Souf'filly 'Talian - or "South Philly Italian" for the rest of you more articulate fellows ;) ) fluently. At the same time, I try my best to preserve the specifics of other languages in writing. As with a lot of folks who've already said this, I pronounce and write "ukulele"/" 'ukulele" differently depending on my audience, even though I know the "original" spelling/pronunciation/whatever is technically" 'ukulele". Same thing goes with the articles used before the words. Maybe it's just the haole guilt in me.

Better yet, I'll just stop saying it altogether and just draw it. Modern-day pictographs.

sebi
01-20-2010, 08:49 AM
In my opinion, if one's not writing an academic paper on the origin of the word ukulele, there is no ned to discuss its respective grammar. Even though this discussion is really interesting :-)

Brad Bordessa
01-20-2010, 08:55 AM
Thought I would point something out:

"Hawai'i" is spelled with an 'okina - it is a Hawaiian word.
"Hawaiian" is not spelled with an 'okina - it is an English word.

Thanks for an interesting thread.

buddhuu
01-20-2010, 11:15 AM
Thought I would point something out:

"Hawai'i" is spelled with an 'okina - it is a Hawaiian word.
"Hawaiian" is not spelled with an 'okina - it is an English word.

Thanks for an interesting thread.

Uh oh. More for me to remember. Not good news at my age... :D

Monkeyswithladders
01-20-2010, 11:18 AM
I'd just like to suggest a good book for any of you who are generally interested in grammar. "Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies" is just incredible. It discusses the proper usage of many subjects, and also takes time to shed a light on the usefulness of grammar-snobbery. It's a great read.

As an ex-journalism major who has taken way too many classes on writing and editing, I've mostly gotten over my grammar snobbishness by now. Although I must admit I still cringe when I hear people say "I could care less" :P Oh well- I've found other battles to fill my day with now.

whetu
01-20-2010, 11:52 AM
So in my ukulele researching, I posted on a few boards I stumbled across. I always typed 'a ukulele'. I got ripped apart on the one forum because it should have read 'an ook-oo-lay-li'.

The entire thread turned into a fight about it. My question is, which is correct? Are they both correct?

AH! I ended up buying the Lanikai NK-T tenor by the way...

I see people using 'an ukulele' and while I know it's correct to use 'an' in front of words that start with vowels, in this instance it just seems weird and almost foreign to me. I'm more comfortable with 'a ukulele', but I don't exactly get wound up about 'an ukulele'. To me it's nowhere near as bad a grammatrical stuff up as misuse of the apostrophe (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe), or ignorance to correct usage of there/their/they're, your/you're (that one drives me up the wall), and recently were/where/we're etc... I think in this instance though the grammar nazis should let it slide.

Good buy on the Lanikai, enjoy it! :)

Monkeyswithladders
01-20-2010, 11:55 AM
check out what was written earlier in the thread about "a" versus "an" and how the sound is what is important. I forgot who explained the rule a page or two ago, but someone nailed it.

haolejohn
01-20-2010, 12:10 PM
I believe that the "rule" is that one would use the article "an" when a word begins with a vowel sound. That's a different thing from beginning with a letter that's a vowel.

For example, "honor" doesn't begin with a vowel. But you'd still say "it's an honor", because it begins with a vowel sound (the 'h' is silent). And, as you pointed out, some words that do start with a vowel letter--like "unicorn"--nonetheless begin on a consonant sound, and would therefore use the article "a".

Which means that the question of which definite article to use in front of ukulele actually is a question about pronunciation.

JJ

That was a good post JJ. It is about pronouncing things correctly but one can't really tell how someone pronounces a word in typed printunless they type phonetically. This is one of the many reasons why i stick to math:)

whetu
01-20-2010, 12:14 PM
This is one of the many reasons why i stick to math:)

Can you use the Drake Equation (http://www.foxcharlotte.com/dpps/news/dpgo-Peter-Backus-uses-math-to-explain-girlfriend-woes-fc-20100112_5537488) to figure out my odds of finding an available female in Wellington NZ between, say, 21 and 28 who plays the uke? ;)

GrumpyCoyote
01-20-2010, 12:17 PM
I'd just like to suggest a good book for any of you who are generally interested in grammar. "Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies" is just incredible. It discusses the proper usage of many subjects, and also takes time to shed a light on the usefulness of grammar-snobbery. It's a great read.


I'm a big fan of Lynn Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" too - both great aproachable grammar books.

ukestang
01-20-2010, 12:31 PM
As a retired teacher and administrator and recovered grammar snob, I don't care how something is stated as long as I can understand it. If I don't understand something it's because I'm stupid, not because of the grammar. By the way, is it A UKE or An UKE.

rogue_wave
01-20-2010, 12:47 PM
My grammar passed away two years ago. I played 'ukulele at her service.

sukie
01-20-2010, 12:55 PM
After one page I decided I have something to say. Even if someone else already said it: These are ukulele forums. (Notice how I didn't even need to use an a or an there?) What has grammar got to do with anything? If people want to dissect grammar, why not go to that type of forum? There must be one. Even just thinking about this has me nervous that I'll make a mistake and get called out for it. (No sleep last night for me. Maybe I'm crabby?) If this was the worst problem in the world I could understand. But think about it people; there's a world of hurt out there right now. Concentrate on that.



slinks off of soapbox and tiptoes out of the thread....

Mim
01-20-2010, 01:04 PM
Just please do not judge me if you meet me and I said "You-kah-lele" because I am Southern. In accent at least. If I pronounced it correctly in front of my family they would probably laugh at me. And then they would probably correct me and say it is a "You-kah-lele" and then it would become a running joke in which every time they see my Ukulele they will tease the way I say it. All in good fun of course... but still. Better safe then sorry. So right now I sort of use them interchangable depending on who I am talking to.

Just so you know where I am coming from, my grandpa says "Damnation" instead of Dalmation and "J-pan" and "I-raq". They think it is weird that my sister sings opera. And I know the first thing my dad will say when I show him my new Uke is: "Can you play 'Wildwood Flower' on that thing?" (A popular blue grass tune). They are not rednecks, they are country farm folk.

ukestang
01-20-2010, 01:31 PM
Hey, Mim, now I have to learn Wildwood Flower on Uke, one of the first songs my hillbilly dad taught me on guitar 40 some years ago. Thanks for the memory jog, tell your dad that A, An Uke is a great bluegrass instrument too.

Monkeyswithladders
01-20-2010, 01:35 PM
I'm a big fan of Lynn Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" too - both great aproachable grammar books.

totally. another excellent one :D

rogue_wave
01-20-2010, 02:31 PM
Hey, Mim, now I have to learn Wildwood Flower on Uke, one of the first songs my hillbilly dad taught me on guitar 40 some years ago. Thanks for the memory jog, tell your dad that A, An Uke is a great bluegrass instrument too.

The most talented Ken Middleton has a guitar lesson on YT:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qf5IiUMcIY

Ukulele Video & Tab at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOV6takLLsM&feature=PlayList&p=B4167EE64D80BFEA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=2

Now I am off to learn it also....

cornfedgroove
01-20-2010, 05:21 PM
I got ripped by the hillbillies for exactly the opposite...I wrote "an ukulele", and got a few ignorant comments as if I didnt understand basic grammar.

Grasshoppa' had to break loose and chop some heads

buddhuu
01-20-2010, 11:14 PM
I'm a big fan of Lynn Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" too - both great aproachable grammar books.
"Fowler's Modern English Usage" has mostly been my mentor. Doesn't shrink from arguing with the OED where it thinks Oxford is pedantic or out of touch! Great stuff.


I got ripped by the hillbillies for exactly the opposite...I wrote "an ukulele", and got a few ignorant comments as if I didnt understand basic grammar.

Grasshoppa' had to break loose and chop some heads

ROTFL! :rofl:

Blrfl
01-21-2010, 01:37 AM
Of course, what nobody's mentioned in all of this is that nit-picking someone's grammar on the Internet has long been considered a bigger faux pas than bad grammar.

--Mark

Ukuleleblues
01-22-2010, 11:18 AM
One time I used the term UKE and I got ripped up and down.

pulelehua
01-22-2010, 11:38 AM
I can't help but find it ironic that we're having this huge discussion about a word whose origin no one can even agree on.

:eek:



(NB: I learned Wildwood Flower a few weeks ago. I must admit, it always makes me think of Reese Witherspoon.)

buddhuu
01-22-2010, 02:00 PM
I can't help but find it ironic that we're having this huge discussion about a word whose origin no one can even agree on.[...]
Stick around, mate. It's a UU tradition. Happens quite regularly. :D

This thread is the restrained version...

1014
01-25-2010, 05:28 AM
he hua`olelo Hawai`i ka `ukulele.

RevWill
01-25-2010, 05:38 AM
he hua`olelo Hawai`i ka `ukulele.

If I had any idea what that means I would probably agree.

1014
01-25-2010, 05:41 AM
If I had any idea what that means I would probably agree.

in response to pulelehua, "the `ukulele is a Hawaiian word."

RevWill
01-25-2010, 05:45 AM
in response to pulelehua, "the `ukulele is a Hawaiian word."

I agree with that fact.

RevWill
01-25-2010, 05:48 AM
The most talented Ken Middleton has a guitar lesson on YT:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qf5IiUMcIY

Ukulele Video & Tab at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOV6takLLsM&feature=PlayList&p=B4167EE64D80BFEA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=2


Now I am off to learn it also....


Here's my take.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEDxB9uMrEk I have added some variations to it now but yes, you can play Wildwood Flower on the uke.

HaileISela
01-25-2010, 06:49 AM
Stick around, mate. It's a UU tradition. Happens quite regularly. :D

This thread is the restrained version...

but it's nice to see that it's not evolving into the same type of discussion as it did the last times...

did I ever mention that the Hawaiian pronunciation of 'ukulele is basically German? no? hmm. took me some time to get used to call the instrument that I learned in English is called by its German name^^

no offence intended^^ just call it as you want to.

btw, is it "constantly living in the USA" or "living in UAS constantly"?