pronounce viola?

January 22, 2014 at 03:51 AM · When is it pronounced vee-ola and when vy-ola?

When is a violist a gamba player?

Replies (33)

January 22, 2014 at 04:22 AM · I have only ever heard vee-ola.

January 22, 2014 at 04:25 AM · ...actually...I might be I am confusing myself. Lol...gee...thanks...

January 22, 2014 at 04:25 AM · Sorry. Internet issues. Double post.

January 22, 2014 at 04:44 AM · Vee-ola

... and please don't ask me to explain why the same pronunciation does not apply to violin!

If you ask an Italian, you will hear the original pronunciation of both.

January 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Rocky is correct.

the other is a Shakespearian heroine



January 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM · Speak of pronunciation, and sorry to digress, is it vib-brah-to, vee-brah-to, or vy-brah-to?

January 22, 2014 at 01:00 PM · How about pronouncing "tomato"?

Ah well, let's call the whole thing off...

January 22, 2014 at 04:32 PM · If y'all are from Beeville Texas it is vy-ola. If you are from Austin it is vee-ola.

The question "when is a violist a gamba player" I figure could possibly turn into a brand new viola joke. Any ideas?

January 22, 2014 at 05:05 PM · I thought it was pronounced "vwah-lah"

January 22, 2014 at 05:18 PM · Trevor, only if you're dyslexic. Bruce, when gamba has no rules for the violist to learn. Seraphim, don't be stupid, we don't even disagree about how to pronounce Ginger! Yinmui, vib-brah-to (I think that was a serious question); if you turned the first syllable into a diphthong, you'd have to do it with the second, and then it would sound too much like something else for comfort. Buri, hole in one. Rocky, I think the answer is based on where the stresses are in the word. In Italian the word viola originally denoted the viol and the pronunciation of this word in English is unambiguous. Then the word Violino came into English as Violin and the stress was on the last syllable with a secondary stress on the first, hence our pronunciation of it. Whereas the viola came in its full name of alto de viola da braccio and got shortened, in English, to viola with the stress still on the middle syllable, hence the survival of the Italian pronunciation of the first syllable (Mind you I never heard of Yehudi Menuhin, during his visits to the Iona Community, trying to get them to change the pronunciation of Iona).

January 22, 2014 at 07:11 PM · I`ve always found dip-thongs very uncomfortable, especially during long rehearsals.

January 22, 2014 at 07:33 PM · Your fault for using them, Buri - and for trying to create an appearance that I had misspelt the word. Or are they thongth about uncontrollable ekthtethive drinking, arranged for voith and virtuotho piano by Franth Lithp?

January 22, 2014 at 07:39 PM ·

Don't they say "jaangar" in Australia?

January 22, 2014 at 08:30 PM · what about colonel and bologna???

January 22, 2014 at 09:40 PM · vee-oh-lah, sung to the tune of "Ricola".

Try and get that out of your head now.

January 22, 2014 at 11:26 PM · My side of the Pond, Bologna is just the town and is more or less properly pronounced. The dish is (Spaghetti/Fusilli, etc) Bolognese and the latter is pronounced to rhyme with Polonaise. Not too bad I'd say. And it's disgraceful that you only kept the proper pronunciation Kernel for Colonel and scrapped Sarjnt, Leftenant, Bos'un, etc. And then you won't pronounce our place names correctly. "Leyominster" for "Lemster", "Lyessester Square" for "Lester Square", etc. What shall we do with you?

January 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM · Vee-ola to distinguish from the flower, which is vy-ola.

January 23, 2014 at 12:23 AM · The only place that I have heard vy ola is from the pop musician Lou Reed and his fans.

January 23, 2014 at 03:10 AM · John Rokos asks what should we do with the muricans, I suggest get them to say: Nigel and Colin put herbs in a vase, basil... and so on te he.....try

January 23, 2014 at 03:04 PM · Mark, I'm not so sure basil is a very good example. One of our volunteers, a dear old retired chef named Anthony, aged 75 and as English as they come, pronounces it beysil, presumably to distinguish it from the person.

January 23, 2014 at 03:56 PM · I'm not so sure basil is a very good example

It might be, if your last name is Rathbone.

Vee-ola = the instrument

Vy-ola = the flower

Unless you are a certain small-town librarian -- then it's your name.

January 23, 2014 at 07:40 PM · You say vy-ola, I say vee-ola... let's Karl the whole thing Orff.

January 24, 2014 at 12:52 AM · So now I know what to do next time I am confronted by a Lou Reed fan who tells me I don't even know what the instrument that I am playing is called: you and the people of beeville texas call it vy ola the other eight billion people on the planet call it vee ola.

January 24, 2014 at 04:15 AM · maybe we should call the calling off off ...

btw a good cover of that tune is Ella Fitzgerald with Andre Previn.

January 24, 2014 at 05:06 PM · Interestingly, in the British Isles you occasionally hear "violence" pronounced "voy-lence" - and I've heard that from a pulpit(!). I'm sure there is a technical philological term for this interchange of sounds, but I can't lay hands on it at the moment.

[Edit added] The word is "metathesis".

January 25, 2014 at 09:51 AM · In a workshop rehearsal, many moons ago, the South-African violist Cecil Aronowitz called for "more violence, please" (?).."especially the second violence". Vy, of course.

January 25, 2014 at 07:29 PM · In an effort to curb violence in the streets, Rudy Giuliani (mayor of NYC) had all the buskers thrown into jail.

January 25, 2014 at 07:38 PM · Back to the OP with MO

A viola player plays a vee-ola and is a vee-olist

A gamba player plays a vi-ol and is a vi-olist

Vi-ols have frets

Not to be vile but,


January 25, 2014 at 07:47 PM · In French, "le viol" means rape, "la viole" is a viol; as a Brit I often get my genders wrong, so I prefer "gambiste"....

January 25, 2014 at 10:11 PM · And Le Vitryol is your local tipple?

November 17, 2014 at 02:16 PM ·

Victoria Meakin

has twice said vy ola on radio 3 of all places

I have emailed complaining....

November 17, 2014 at 02:31 PM · You should complain!

Here in France, I hear "Franz Litts" or "Joseph Haynd" from the most eminent broadcasters.

I even found a "Haynd" section in a record shop!

November 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Ah, Sir Francis Drake knew all about Haynd!

The answer, of course, is vee-ola the instrument, and Vy-ola the gal in Twelfth Night.

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