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pakhan
11-04-2012, 02:14 AM
Hey folks,

Can I ask, is it a Ukulele or an Ukulele?

Warmest regards,
Terence

collarbone
11-04-2012, 02:56 AM
That depends on if you pronounce it you-kulele or oo-kulele. I'm not an expert on this at all, but I think in hawaii it is "an oo-kulele", and on the mainland it is more often "a you-kulele". I think both are acceptable. Just to mix it up a bit more I think you could also spell ukulele like this: ukElele.

buddhuu
11-04-2012, 04:01 AM
Yup.

If you pronounce it as if it began with the consonant "y" then it would be "a ukulele". If you pronounce it the Hawaiian way (beginning with the "oo" sound) then it would be "an 'ukulele". The apostrophe in 'ukulele is part of the Hawaiian spelling.

mds725
11-04-2012, 05:16 AM
That depends on if you pronounce it you-kulele or oo-kulele. I'm not an expert on this at all but I think in hawaii it is an oo-kulele and on the mainland it more often a you-kulele. I think both are acceptable. Just to mix it up a bit more I think you could also spell ukulele like this: ukElele.

I've discovered that you have to be careful where on the mainland you say you-kulele instead of oo-kulele. If I say you-kulele in front of my Hawaiian ukulele instructors or almost anyone in either of their classes, I'll get a reaction varying from a gentle reminder that the instrument is an oo-kulele to strange looks. By and large, though, the responses to the question at the start of this thread are correct that both pronunciations are considered acceptable by pronunciation authorities like dictionaries. For what it's worth, the apostrophe in 'ukulele is called an 'okina in Hawaiian, and, technically, it differs from an English apostrophe in that the round heavy part is at the bottom, like the quotation marks at the beginning of a quote, and not at the top, as is the case with apostrophes. The use over time of typefaces that do not distinguish between the shapes of beginning and end quotation marks has sort of mooted this distinction. Here's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CA%BBOkina) more about this for anyone who's interested.

The issue of whether and when to pronounce a word the way the people whose language the word comes from would pronounce it is an interesting one and sort of complicated. Here in politically correct San Francisco, we have a street, Arguello. That word is a Spanish word that's pronounced Ar-gwey-o in Spanish, but everyone in SF pronounces the street name Ar-gwell-o. Go figure.

Hms
11-04-2012, 06:32 AM
If I can remember my grammar from school, if the subject started with a vowel (a e i o u, or the sixth vowel, y) then it was an, everything else was a.
School was a long time ago so grammar may have changed!
H

JamieFromOntario
11-04-2012, 07:13 AM
The issue of whether and when to pronounce a word the way the people whose language the word comes from would pronounce it is an interesting one and sort of complicated. Here in politically correct San Francisco, we have a street, Arguello. That word is a Spanish word that's pronounced Ar-gwey-o in Spanish, but everyone in SF pronounces the street name Ar-gwell-o. Go figure.


This kind of thing comes up a lot with French surnames. Throughout Canada, even in English speaking areas, French surnames typically retain their original pronunciation.

I've gotten myself into trouble a couple of times when speaking to Americans and pronouncing their French (I mean Freedom) surnames as the French would. For instance, the name Desjardins. Here in Canada, I would say: Day-jar-din, without closing down on the 'n' sound at the end of the word. However, i have heard this pronounced in the states as: Dez-djar-dins.

Pondoro
11-04-2012, 07:48 AM
I have worked a lot with non-native English speakers. American (and other colonial) pronunciation bewilders them. We pronounce "tortilla" the correct Spanish way, since we learned it from Mexicans. We pronounce "flotilla" to rhyme with "gorilla" since the word came via England.

Louis0815
11-04-2012, 09:28 AM
For instance, the name Desjardins. Here in Canada, I would say: Day-jar-din, without closing down on the 'n' sound at the end of the word. However, i have heard this pronounced in the states as: Dez-djar-dins.
that's most probably because Americans tend to be pretty careless about other than their own language - just look at their horrible spelling of English words. In that respect, French and Americans are pretty similar btw.....


Fortunately we don't have the original problem in German - the instrument is naturally pronounced the original hawaiian way :)

808boy
11-04-2012, 09:51 AM
HMS has the right answer to the OP's question. It wasn't how to pronounce Ukulele...............

coolkayaker1
11-04-2012, 10:08 AM
An uke. If use the abbreviated name, as such, there is only one way. Never a uke.

But, with the full name, I can see what some have written about it going both ways depending on pronunciation. Isn't it because ukulele in Hawaiian begins with a consonant? The u is a consonant, no? I don't know

Lori
11-04-2012, 10:11 AM
that's most probably because Americans tend to be pretty careless about other than their own language - just look at their horrible spelling of English words. In that respect, French and Americans are pretty similar btw.....


Fortunately we don't have the original problem in German - the instrument is naturally pronounced the original hawaiian way :)

The changes from the original English spellings were intentional. There was a colonial revolution y'know. Language is a reflection of politics. Languages and pronunciations seem to take on their own life and evolve based on local usage. It is a fascinating subject. I kind of like the fact that there are different accents for different regions. It is much more interesting.

–Lori

JamieFromOntario
11-04-2012, 10:48 AM
An uke. If use the abbreviated name, as such, there is only one way. Never a uke.

But, with the full name, I can see what some have written about it going both ways depending on pronunciation. Isn't it because ukulele in Hawaiian begins with a consonant? The u is a consonant, no? I don't know


I would definitely write "a uke" since when I speak uke aloud I say "you-ke".




HMS has the right answer to the OP's question. It wasn't how to pronounce Ukulele...............

I'm with you...except, the way one pronounces ukulele will govern whether its "a" or "an".

Nickie
11-04-2012, 10:59 AM
When I am speaking to the "Uninitiated" (LOL) or non uke players, I say a you-koo-lay-lee.
When I am speaking to knowledgeables, I tend to say an ook-u-lay-lay.
But they are both actually spelled the same, go figure.
Most Americans do suck at speaking and spelling English, I think it's atrocious!

Barbablanca
11-04-2012, 11:48 AM
If I can remember my grammar from school, if the subject started with a vowel (a e i o u, or the sixth vowel, y) then it was an, everything else was a.
School was a long time ago so grammar may have changed!
H

It is actually a pronunciation rule and is not as cut and dry as your school rule suggests. As has been noted here before if the vowel is pronounced as a vowel we use "an" but if pronounced as a consonant, we use "a". Examples:

"I am a university lecturer. I made an upside-down cake. There is a universe in my teacup. It is an extremely complex issue. I am a European" - get the idea?

mds725
11-04-2012, 12:52 PM
HMS has the right answer to the OP's question. It wasn't how to pronounce Ukulele...............

With all respect, the use of "a" or "an" depends on how you pronounce "ukulele." HMS was right that the two different common pronunciations of the word ukulele result in different answers to the question of whether to use "a" or "an," but if someone asked whether to use "a" or "an" before the word "university, a discussion would necessarily ensue about whether "university" is pronounced as if it begins with a "y" (you-niveristy) or a "u" (oo-niversity). There's no controversy about how to pronounce "university," but if there was, whether to use "a" or "an" would depend on which is the favored pronunciation of the word to which "a" or "an" is being attached.

coolkayaker1
11-04-2012, 01:41 PM
It is actually a pronunciation rule and is not as cut and dry as your school rule suggests. As has been noted here before if the vowel is pronounced as a vowel we use "an" but if pronounced as a consonant, we use "a". Examples:

"I am a university lecturer. I made an upside-down cake. There is a universe in my teacup. It is an extremely complex issue. I am a European" - get the idea?


That's pretty keen, those examples. What you write, and Mds, too, are spot on.

TheCraftedCow
11-04-2012, 07:37 PM
There are languages where the vowels only have one sound. English is not one of those languages. A true vowel sound uses only an open mouth with no other part of the mouth. Making the sound of long U as in use - usurper - usual cannot be made without constricting the back of the mouth and using the tongue almost as a glottal stop. Those words are pronounced with the single letter sound called a schwa. An uke is incorrect.. Are there exceptions to show that a hard and fast rule does not exist ? Absolutely. uke is not one of them.

Skrik
11-04-2012, 07:56 PM
TOM-A-TO

Please move on to the next thread.

Phooto
11-04-2012, 08:14 PM
tom-a-to
tom-ar-toe

mds725
11-04-2012, 08:17 PM
There are languages where the vowels only have one sound. English is not one of those languages. A true vowel sound uses only an open mouth with no other part of the mouth. Making the sound of long U as in use - usurper - usual cannot be made without constricting the back of the mouth and using the tongue almost as a glottal stop. Those words are pronounced with the single letter sound called a schwa. An uke is incorrect.. Are there exceptions to show that a hard and fast rule does not exist ? Absolutely. uke is not one of them.

Unless you pronounce the word "uke" by making the sound "ook" instead of "yuke." In the case of "ook," you would use "an" instead of "a." Because the first letter in the Hawaiian word 'ukulele is not the letter "u" but an 'okina, the derivative word, uke, arguably should also be deemed to start with an 'okina rather than a "u" (i.e., 'uke), in which case it ought to be pronounced "ook" and ought to be preceded by "an" instead of "a."

mds725
11-04-2012, 08:19 PM
tom-ar-toe

That reminds me of a quirk in the Boston/New England accent. People using this accent will drop the letter "r" when it actually appears at the end of some words (i.e, saying "cah" for car) but will also add an "r" to the end of some words that end in vowels (like saying "agender" for agenda).

Phooto
11-04-2012, 08:42 PM
There are languages where the vowels only have one sound. English is not one of those languages. A true vowel sound uses only an open mouth with no other part of the mouth. Making the sound of long U as in use - usurper - usual cannot be made without constricting the back of the mouth and using the tongue almost as a glottal stop. Those words are pronounced with the single letter sound called a schwa. An uke is incorrect.. Are there exceptions to show that a hard and fast rule does not exist ? Absolutely. uke is not one of them.
Of course, this not as it is in English. Your examples are pronounced yoo-se, oo-serper, and yoo-sual. I think your examples are American English, not English. ;)

Phooto
11-04-2012, 08:44 PM
That reminds me of a quirk in the Boston/New England accent. People using this accent will drop the letter "r" when it actually appears at the end of some words (i.e, saying "cah" for car) but will also add an "r" to the end of some words that end in vowels (like saying "agender" for agenda).
And yes, grass and bath are pronounced "grarss" and "Barth"!

Pippin
11-04-2012, 09:08 PM
These discussions happen so frequently on this board (pronunciation of ukulele). It is all pretty pointless.

In reality, the instrument is of European lineage (Portuguese - from Madeira - the braguinha). Traders came to Hawai'i and brought with them this little instrument. It captured the imagination of King David Kalakaua. With growing popularity in Hawai'i, the instrument came to be known as an 'ukulele (Hawaiian pronunciation - oo-koo-lay-lay).

The instrument was very affectionately adopted by the Hawaiians. They gave it a LOCAL name. The ukulele was adopted elsewhere in the world, too, but it seems the name used in Hawai'i sort of became the defacto standard (although, maybe not in the Madeira Islands).

The important thing to remember here is that noone intends to insult anyone by calling it 'ukulele or ukulele. The intent with everyone here is to enjoy playing the thing and have fellowship in the appreciation of the instrument and the music one creates with it. Set aside the politics of language and the pronunciation guides and just play the thing without worrying about it. Adopt one of these little gee-tars and bring it into your home, lovingly play it and call it what you will, but, don't get any hangups over "proper name" UNLESS YOU WANT TO CALL IT A... braguinha.

Now, about the word machete...

By the way, I want to say that I am personally very happy that the Hawaiians loved this instrument enough to give it a local name and continue playing it; because, had they not done so, most if not all of us would never have had the opportunity to play it today. So, to our Hawaiian friends, thank you for keeping the 'ukulele alive and well for all this time.

Plainsong
11-04-2012, 09:45 PM
And even use of the ' depends on if you believe the origin story of jumping flea, or origin story of gift. At least that's what I've read in my uke readings... That there are two different stories on the origin of the name - one needs the ' and one doesn't.

But anyway, I pronounce it ookoolehleh because when I started, someone from Hawaii said if I don't, the locals will laugh at me and dismiss me as a tourist. But also it's pretty much the Finnish pronunciation as well. Taking those together, it's kinda difficult for me to even say youkulaylay. I have to over annunciate.

I'm not saying it's right or anything, just that it's tough for me to pronounce it the western way. Conversely, saying "ook" unless you're from a part of the world where that makes sense, sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. Sorry, it just does.

So reading "a ukulele" looks stupid to me, but in common speech, I'd also say "a youke" - it is what it is, I guess.

Hms
11-04-2012, 10:40 PM
HMS has the right answer to the OP's question. It wasn't how to pronounce Ukulele...............

Ooh, Ooh, what did I win?:D
h

Hms
11-04-2012, 10:46 PM
Sorry forgot to quote original message, but OP wasnt sure whether u was a vowel or not.

The vowels are a, e, i, o, u. Y also tends to be called the 6th vowel as I believe it falls under the rules of use for vowels.
All other letters are consonants.
h

Kamanaaloha
11-05-2012, 12:09 PM
Hawaiian pronunciation please... Ukulele is pronounced "oo-koo-lay-lay". Those familiar with Spanish the vowel pronunciations in Hawaiian are "ah", "ay", "ee", "oh", "oo" for a, e, i, o, u respectively. As for one ukulele vs. many ukulele, and the correct usage of an "article" should be used when speaking English..."an" before all words starting with vowels or vowel sounds, and "a" before all words starting with and sounding like consonants. just my opinion...

more from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_articles

If you are pronouncing it "you koo lay lee"...you are a baddie-haole<kidding kinda>, but you are most certainly allowed to pronounce it however you wish. If you say it that way, you will get admonished and looked at funny, in the very least, if done in Hawaii. If you wish to call it "a" ukulele, then maybe you should just call it "a braguinha", just saying.

ukeatan
11-05-2012, 12:34 PM
If you're spelling it with the 'okina, then it should also be a 'ukulele. Because the 'okina is a consonant.

Wrench thrown!

mds725
11-05-2012, 01:07 PM
If you're spelling it with the 'okina, then it should also be a 'ukulele. Because the 'okina is a consonant.

Wrench thrown!

" 'an' before all words starting with vowels or vowel sounds..."

UkuleleThreads
12-03-2012, 11:01 AM
I think it's an a ukulele.

jglover
12-03-2012, 12:17 PM
Wouldn't it be "it's da ukulele" ? ;)

Dougf
12-03-2012, 02:47 PM
If you're spelling it with the 'okina, then it should also be a 'ukulele. Because the 'okina is a consonant.

Wrench thrown!

I agree, the 'okina is a consonant, pretty close to the sound we make in English when we say 'uh oh', that 't' sort of sound between 'uh' and 'oh'. So you would say "a 'ukulele" with that 't' sort of sound (glottal stop) between "a" and the "oo" of 'ukulele.

webby
12-03-2012, 04:16 PM
I think it's fantastic that grammar is considered important by members here - All we have to communicate is our language and the main stream media seem so intent on dumbing everything down, Good on all of you who contributed to this thread, It makes my heart sing.

pootsie
12-03-2012, 04:46 PM
EVERYONE is missing the point

It isn't "a ukulele"
and it isn't "an ukulele" ...

It's DOZENS OF UKULELES!

konut
12-03-2012, 05:21 PM
Stay broke dat one.

TG&Y
12-03-2012, 10:53 PM
Hah! That's where my thoughts were taking me too.


EVERYONE is missing the point

It isn't "a ukulele"
and it isn't "an ukulele" ...

It's DOZENS OF UKULELES!

thedannywahl
12-04-2012, 01:00 AM
Wouldn't it be "it's da ukulele" ? ;)

Depends on the context:

"Junior boy no forget bring da uke church!"

Or

"Auwe! He da kine! Only get one ukulele, can play any kine for reals, but!"

Or in the mainland:

"Son please stop banging on that baby guitar."

Fisherman
12-04-2012, 01:28 AM
Great post, and I agree :) That said, I think ukulele is one of the great words... it's got such a lovely ring to it! English is great at including new words...

Now, who's going to be the first to post "look at my new braguinha!"... or "it's a new braguinha day!" ;)



These discussions happen so frequently on this board (pronunciation of ukulele). It is all pretty pointless.

In reality, the instrument is of European lineage (Portuguese - from Madeira - the braguinha). Traders came to Hawai'i and brought with them this little instrument. It captured the imagination of King David Kalakaua. With growing popularity in Hawai'i, the instrument came to be known as an 'ukulele (Hawaiian pronunciation - oo-koo-lay-lay).

The instrument was very affectionately adopted by the Hawaiians. They gave it a LOCAL name. The ukulele was adopted elsewhere in the world, too, but it seems the name used in Hawai'i sort of became the defacto standard (although, maybe not in the Madeira Islands).

The important thing to remember here is that noone intends to insult anyone by calling it 'ukulele or ukulele. The intent with everyone here is to enjoy playing the thing and have fellowship in the appreciation of the instrument and the music one creates with it. Set aside the politics of language and the pronunciation guides and just play the thing without worrying about it. Adopt one of these little gee-tars and bring it into your home, lovingly play it and call it what you will, but, don't get any hangups over "proper name" UNLESS YOU WANT TO CALL IT A... braguinha.

Now, about the word machete...

By the way, I want to say that I am personally very happy that the Hawaiians loved this instrument enough to give it a local name and continue playing it; because, had they not done so, most if not all of us would never have had the opportunity to play it today. So, to our Hawaiian friends, thank you for keeping the 'ukulele alive and well for all this time.