14 June 2013

How to make a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

This week I listened to the the audio version of BBC Radio's original production an audiobook adaptation of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia. Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic. 
At that point I had to back up the CD and relisten, because the word "redolent" had definitely been pronounced RED-elent, rather than reDOLEnt.

A brief glance at a dictionary confirmed that for 40+ years I've been mispronouncing that word in my head when reading it, starting with Faulkner:
The clean, spartan room was redolent of Sunday. William Faulkner, Light in August
And on and on...
The air was redolent with the odor of flowers; the nose was constantly amazed by it. Stephen King, Carrie.

M. Bouc`s tone was redolent of heartfelt disgust. Agatha Christie, Murder On The Orient Express.

The pale green buds were sticky with resin and redolent of rotting fruit. Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air.

A furry redolence of cinnamon arose from the sack, wafted across Jessica. Frank Herbert, Dune.

Florentino Ariza was looking after his guests in the main salon of the ship, still redolent of fresh paint and tar, when there was a burst of applause on the docks, and the band struck up a triumphal march. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera.
The BBC production was narrated by Stephen Fry.  Lesson for the day: if you think you've caught Stephen Fry in an English language mistake, you're probably wrong.  You learn something every day.

Citations via Verbal Workout.

14 comments:

  1. For years I read a certain word as 'shade n frood'. Then one day I really looked at it and said that can't be the way Germans say it. Went & looked up Schadenfreude.

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  2. Well, dammit. I've been mispronouncing it in my head my whole life too. Since I don't think I've ever spoken the word aloud I may continue to do so; RED-elent sort of grates.

    (My husband and I occasionally get into arguments over the pronunciation of unusual words and eventually resort, with much arm-waving, to a dictionary to settle the matter. He was right about "okapi" but I got him on "detritus" and "quixotic.")

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    1. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.

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  3. For many years I thought that "misled" rhymed with "drizzled"!

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  4. I thought it was one of those words that Americans say differently from the Brits.

    Such as advertisement - Americans say adver-tiz-ment while Brits say adver-TIZE-ment with a long i. And Caribbean - Americans say car-RIBB-ean while Brits say Cari-BE-an. The Brits garnish with bazil while the Americans use bai-zil.

    (My phonetic spellings are not the best, but you get the picture).

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    1. I'm British, living in Britain. I pretty certain we usually pronounce "advertisement" as ad-VER-tiz-ment.

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  5. However, while Stephen Fry may not mispronounce the English Language, here in the US we speak "American", not English. The difference being that words are pronounced differently. Stephen Fry may be an ENGLISH authority, that does not mean that he is an authority on how the language is pronounced here in the U.S.

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    1. No, you speak "English". But thanks to a quirk of fate it's likely that some of your pronunciations are more historically faithful than the modern UK English usages.

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  6. Ah yes, I have that with albeit. I pronounce that one in my head al-BAIT.

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  7. I think, since Douglas Adams was an English writer and a great friend of Mr. Fry's, that if Mr Fry wishes to pronounce it RED-elent, I would bow to his superior judgement in these matters.

    If you ever get the opportunity, check out Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, narrated by Richard Burton. It will give you a new appreciation for "luminous" and "inexorable."

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    1. I don't think it's a matter of how Steven Fry wishes to pronounce it, or that it has anything to do with DaBris' comments re American vs. English language. To my understanding "redolent" is pronounced "RED-elent" and no other way. Period.

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  8. In another moment of pedantry, if Stephen Fry featured, then it wasn't the original production. H2G2 was originally written as a radio drama and only became a book later. It's worth hunting down as, although I'm a huge fan of Stephen Fry, no-one can touch the late Peter Jones' performance of 'The Book'.

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    1. Thank you, Dan. You're quite correct; what I got from our library must have been the modern audiobook version. I've amended the post introduction accordingly.

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  9. *shrug*

    i have always pronounced it REDelent. (i am too lazy to type the IPA equivalent). is there another way?

    oor rayTHEER, iss THAYree anY OHther wahEEE?

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