Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I now pronounce you GNU

I'm struggling with a pronunciation... how to pronounce GNU?  Their website tries to explain, but it has only left me more confused:

"The name “GNU” is a recursive acronym for “GNU's Not Unix!”; it is pronounced g-noo, as one syllable with no vowel sound between the g and the n."

I've always (since about 1996) pronounced GNU as "GaNoo", the involuntary vowel after the 'G' being natural for me as a native English speaker.  The involuntary vowel makes the strange contrast of the consonants there work in English.

I've hard some people pronounce it as "GæNew", "Ger~Noo" and heard them give up totally and call it "G.N.U".  I have always known what they're talking about, and they've always known what I've been talking about.  After all accents are so varied in Britain you never can be sure what accent, or language, you'll get out of someone so we accept a certain amount of variance to get the job done.

So it pains me to see from the site of GNU that I've been saying it wrong all these years... "one syllable"... I've definitely been using two... and no vowel sound between g and n.... gah, I can't do that, I simply can't... I'm not a linguist, and my English brain says "stick an 'a' sound in there it'll be fine".

There's a great British tradition of co-opting a phrase to suit our tongue, it drives other lingual structures to distraction... Ever been to France and tried to order a coffee in perfect French but with a rich Lancashire accent?  I've seen someone try and get stared at like a they were trying to show a dog a card trick, that involuntary head twist from the French as you accidentally drop the feminine instead of the masculine for some object or other... I drive the French mad, I once had a woman scream at me (in French) about my pronunciation of "5".. not Five... Cinq... "Sank... Sanque... Sink... Five love, five" (hold up the digits of one hand.... much quicker).

So, with GNU I'm going to stick with GaNoo.  Lets hope you still pronounce Hurd, Hurd...

1 comment:

  1. I'm going with what Stallman says...:

    "GNU" is pronounced as one syllable with a hard g,
    like "grew" but with n instead of r."