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Why, Rick, why??!!

Just watched his Normandy episode and he repeatedly pronounces Bayeux as Bay-YOO.
My ears are cringing ...

Posted by
2624 posts

I just listened to the pronunciation on Google and the French translation sounded like Bay-YOO and the English version sounded like Bye-YOO.

Posted by
6859 posts

As far as I know it's pronounced Bay-Yoo so I don't know what the problem is. But when I've heard a French speaker say it they don't put much emphasis on the Yoo like we English speakers do.

Posted by
18864 posts

After nearly a quarter century of hearing people mispronounce the names of German cities, I can't understand what all your fuss is about.

Posted by
2316 posts

Any chance I get to complain about British pronunciation of proper nouns is a chance I will take:
for me the worst offenders are how British English speakers insist on mispronouncing Spanish names;
second worst offenders are how they pronounce African names.
Spanish has clear and simple pronunciation rules, and Brits seem to go out of their way to violate them. It's insulting.

I will also repeat that I wish the Antiques Roadshow and similar programs imported from the UK should have a caption or signcard when the place names are mentioned by the presenters, because how they sound and how they are spelled seem to have no connection. The French influence on English vocabulary and grammar is considerable, but not nearly enough, imho.

Posted by
492 posts

I love Rick but I’d suggest being wary of any foreign language pronunciation by someone who does that whole speak-English-with-a-weird-accent-when-talking-to-foreigners thing. ;)

Posted by
9101 posts

Shelly, boy do I agree with you. His pronunciation of French words/places are nails on a blackboard to me. 😆

Bayeux is pronounced: Bye-yuh
You can hear for yourself on the Google translate app.

Posted by
9101 posts

1885BD, Yes! Exactly what you said!
That super weird “speak-English-with-a-weird-accent-when-talking-to-foreigners thing.”

Posted by
6113 posts

I always thought that it should be pronounced By-eaux, not Bay-eaux, rhyming with deux (two). Checking some French YouTube sites, this seems to concur. Presumably there are local French dialects that could pronounce words differently. I have heard people in France pronounce yes - oui - as weee, wi and way.

I would have thought that Reims gets mispronounced more than Bayeux to a degree that a local wouldn’t understand what you were referring to. Reims = Rrrance, rhyming with the English pronunciation of France.

Not all Brits are ignorant in trying to pronounce place names, but Spanish isn’t generally taught in British schools - French is the default second language. My third language at school was Latin, but Spanish would have been more useful. The optional fourth language was Russian! These days, Mandarin Chinese is a common language taught in British schools. In my day, a second language wasn’t started until age 11 - far too late. American Spanish is very different to how it’s pronounced in Spain or say Costa Rica, which a friend described as a pure form of Spanish.

Posted by
9739 posts

Susan has described it well because the last syllable sound is one that doesn't exist in English. We have u- sounds that are close, but unless we have been put through a lot of pronunciation exercises, we usually neither distinguish it with our ears nor imitate it.

Anyway, let's give RS a pass on this one. Maybe he does it on purpose to make Europe more accessible to those who could be intimidated by new things.

Posted by
1300 posts

Chartres is his worst pronunciation abomination. "Shart" Showing my students this special I talked over him pronouncing it every time---otherwise they erupted in tears.

Posted by
9101 posts

Jennifer is right, Bayeux rhymes with Deux. It’s hard to spell that sound in English, as Bets said.

Posted by
408 posts

For some of you who are so certain of your pronunciation expertise, you may want to log on to the website Forvo and add your well-considered pronunciation to counteract those silly French speaking people who seem not to conform to many of the suggestions above of how to pronounce Bayeux.

Seriously, my high school French teacher had a good suggestion on pronouncing the sound of the second syllable -- press your tongue against the back of your bottom teeth and say a short sound that's somewhere between "oo" and "uh". Of course, she was Canadian so take that with un grain de sel.

Posted by
9739 posts

Where in Canada?

Having never before concentrated on this word, my French husband was kind enough to pronounce it several times for me, but he's born in the 15th and has influences from the 14th, southern suburbs, rugby teams, Brittany, the US, and an argot-speaking father, Purity is hard to find.

Maybe Rick has it right.

Posted by
9101 posts

Bye-yuh > rhymes with Deux is how the locals say it. 😆

Posted by
408 posts

Where in Canada?

Ha ha! You're asking me to remember a specific detail from 44 years ago about a person who probably never specified where, specifically, she was from, other than "Canada."

Can't help you there.

Posted by
4323 posts

"Where in Canada?"

An excellent question. Because one's pronunciation will vary greatly depending on the locale in which you learned the language. Even the French have trouble understanding rural Quebecois or Acadian French.

Give Rick a break. He openly admits to being a monoglot even after all these years. I think he does the best he can. And if you can understand the word or name, it's good enough.

Posted by
9739 posts

My money's on Susan, but sunbaked, you're a crack up.

The Canada question was tongue-in-cheek, but we do have francophone friends from New Brunswick and Quebec City and hear the difference.

Posted by
6859 posts

Bye-yuh > rhymes with Deux is how the locals say it.

Since a lot of Americans don't know how to pronounce deux either, I think it's easier to think of of eux as sounding like the double oo sounds in the words cook or look. And from hearing it in French to me the Bay sounds like the English word yeah, substituting B for the Y. Just my interpretation, not that it really matters anyway since Rick is generally speaking to other English/American speakers and he's trying to make it as close to the local pronunciation as possible.

I spent more time thinking about this question. Susan nailed it down the best. The “Y” has an “I” sound (eye or aye). YUH is the best way to describe the “eux” sound. Still not perfect, but very close with no audio available. Different languages require different facial movements. It’s as if our faces need to go through physical training to properly speak another language.

Posted by
7617 posts

The French elide everything so that it is hard to hear the letters unlike Italian or Spanish. Reims is not really Rrrance -- it sounds more like clearing your throat when the French say it. Yeah not 'Rems' and Rrrance is closer -- but it is much less clear than that.

and the eau in bayeux is not 'yoo'. it is more like 'uhh'. or 'uwww'.

I come from Washington State where many many of our local names are a mystery to those outside -- e.g. Sequim, Yachats, and Puyallup for starters. And Oregon is consistently mispronounced by East Coast TV journalists.

Posted by
7617 posts

Or you could think about how many people were paid for their work building the Cathedral and could thus afford to feed and clothe their families. These were public works projects back in the day not slave labor.

Posted by
776 posts

I'll tighten up my French place name pronunciation when the French can pronounce Miami, Chicago, Milwaukee, Florida, Prairie du Chien, New Orleans and Wisconsin the 'mercan way.

Posted by
6787 posts

While speaking of Bayeux, anyone want to weigh on on pronouncing “tapestry?”

And how does Rick pronounce his hometown? Ed-muhnds, Ed-mahnds, Ed-muns, Ed-moans, maybe even Eeed-moodns?

Wonder if he sounds silly to his Norwegian relatives when he talks to them about their local place names?

Posted by
992 posts

Recite this out loud:

Dearest creature in creation, Study English pronunciation. I will
teach you in my verse Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse. I
will keep you, Suzy, busy, Make your head with heat grow dizzy. Tear
in eye, your dress will tear. So shall I! Oh hear my prayer. Just
compare heart, beard, and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word, Sword
and sward, retain and Britain. (Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak: Say break and steak, but bleak and
streak; Cloven, oven, how and low, Script, receipt, show, poem, and
toe. Hear me say, devoid of trickery, Daughter, laughter, and
Terpsichore, Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles, Exiles, similes, and
reviles; Scholar, vicar, and cigar, Solar, mica, war and far; One,
anemone, Balmoral, Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel; Gertrude, German,
wind and mind, Scene, Melpomene, mankind. Billet does not rhyme with
ballet, Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet. Blood and flood are not like
food, Nor is mould like should and would. Viscous, viscount, load and
broad, Toward, to forward, to reward. And your pronunciation’s OK When
you correctly say croquet, Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve, Friend
and fiend, alive and live. Ivy, privy, famous; clamour And enamour
rhyme with hammer. River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb, Doll and roll and
some and home. Stranger does not rhyme with anger, Neither does devour
with clangour. Souls but foul, haunt but aunt, Font, front, wont,
want, grand, and grant, Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger, And
then singer, ginger, linger, Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and
gauge, Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age. Query does not rhyme with
very, Nor does fury sound like bury. Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth,
loth. Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath. Though the differences seem
little, We say actual but victual. Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer. Mint, pint, senate and sedate; Dull,
bull, and George ate late. Scenic, Arabic, Pacific, Science,
conscience, scientific. Liberty, library, heave and heaven, Rachel,
ache, moustache, eleven. We say hallowed, but allowed, People,
leopard, towed, but vowed. Mark the differences, moreover, Between
mover, cover, clover; Leeches, breeches, wise, precise, Chalice, but
police and lice; Camel, constable, unstable, Principle, disciple,
label. Petal, panel, and canal, Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair, Senator, spectator, mayor. Tour,
but our and succour, four. Gas, alas, and Arkansas. Sea, idea, Korea,
area, Psalm, Maria, but malaria. Youth, south, southern, cleanse and
clean. Doctrine, turpentine, marine. Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion. Sally with ally, yea, ye, Eye, I, ay, aye,
whey, and key. Say aver, but ever, fever, Neither, leisure, skein,
deceiver. Heron, granary, canary. Crevice and device and aerie. Face,
but preface, not efface. Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass. Large,
but target, gin, give, verging, Ought, out, joust and scour,
scourging. Ear, but earn and wear and tear Do not rhyme with here but
ere. Seven is right, but so is even, Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk, Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!) Is a paling stout and spikey? Won’t
it make you lose your wits, Writing groats and saying grits? It’s a
dark abyss or tunnel: Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight, Housewife, verdict and indict. Finally,
which rhymes with enough, Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup. My advice is to give up!!!

—G. Nolst Trenité, 1870–1946

Posted by
208 posts


As somebody who has lived there, Edmonds is pronounced like your first alternative.

Now, pronounce Puyallup

Posted by
9101 posts

PharmerPhil, that was very good. English is hard.

I know how to pronounce Sequim... : )

Posted by
1429 posts

The first syllable is not pronounced as 'bay' or 'bye'. The 'a' is robust and short, as in 'apple', or the eastern European word 'baba' (for woman or grandmother, depending on the language).

"While speaking of Bayeux, anyone want to weigh on on pronouncing “tapestry?” " - Certainly. Tapestry is pronounced as tapestry. For 'tapisserie', substitute the 'tap' for 'pât' in 'pâtisserie.' The double 's' is robust, the first 'e' is not pronounced.

Posted by
6787 posts

Rick pronounces France’s capital as “Pehrisss,” not “Pehr-rhee.” Is that a problem?

Posted by
9101 posts

Gunderson, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by
216 posts

I would propose that Rick's language skills are far better than he claims. It is in his interest to attract those without a second or third language to his tours. Correct pronunciation, especially of French, puts off those potential travelers who perceive it as snobbery. His goal is to make monoglot English speakers feel comfortable to join his tours. If he can butcher the language and still have friends in Europe and enjoy his time there, then you can too. I suspect there is a method to the madness.

Posted by
8081 posts

Good observation Schteffi. I think if he referred to Firenze, München, Moscva, etc., most Americans wouldnt know what he was talking about.

Posted by
890 posts

Chiming in not as a moderator but as a French major and general francophile, I learned long ago before I was hired that I should not trust Rick's pronunciation. :) Ba-yeux 👀

Posted by
2316 posts

Rick also likes to mispronounce English words strategically as well --
one that sticks in my craw is 'affluent' which he accents incorrectly.