So that’s how you pronounce it

Filed under: Web/Tech | 3 Comments

Being that I work almost exclusively online, I can go a long time using but not actually talking about a technology. Then one day I’ll hear someone mention it and realize that I had been mispronouncing it in my head all this while. Today’s lesson was Memcached. As in mem-cache-dee. That makes so much sense (it’s a daemon after all), but I had gone ahead thinking it was pronounced as it looks (mem-cached). Both make sense and without a space or capitalization I feel my guess was appropriate if not naive. Luckily I wasn’t the first to speak about Memcached at this meeting, so I kept up the illusion of competence and locked up my learning something every day goal.

While it didn’t happen today (score one for not speaking first), mis-pronouncing a technology in front of peers produces an awkward situation for both parties. I have been on each side and I can’t say which is better other than ignorance is bliss. If you’re on the receiving end there’s always a chance that you are actually the incorrect one and correcting the speaker would be a major gaffe. Even if it’s a sure bet, correcting someone is a sensitive situation. If it’s your superior and there are others around, correcting is almost always out of the question and you’re left with the dreadful decision of either using the [possibly] incorrect pronunciation in the rest of the meeting or using the [presumed] correct pronunciation at the risk of alienating your superior.

Have this happen at a meeting with clients and you’re in it even deeper–maybe they are testing you and want to know you really know your stuff. Maybe they really don’t know. Maybe I’m over thinking it? Let’s hope.

The last time I remember having to punt was when someone said “app-pee” and I was completely lost. A few minutes of confusion later I realized we were talking about an API. I was aware of Sequel/S-Q-L, but app-pee was new and uncomfortable territory.

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3 Responses to “So that’s how you pronounce it”

  1. This one (cache) can be boiled down even further, as I’ve heard it pronounced three different ways. I believe most people say ‘cash’. Personally, I say ‘cay-sh’, as does the people I work with, and most other Australians I talk to. Occasionally, I come across someone who says it like ‘cafe’ as ‘ca-shay’. Another thing I notice from time to time is how people pronounce abbreviations (like your API example) and file formats like PNG (ping) and SWF (swiff). Finally, I once heard someone pronounce schema as “shemma”.

  2. Jay says:

    My pet peeve is people saying “earl” when they are pronouncing URL (you-are-ell).

  3. Walter Tross says:

    I believe that one should not distort words that come from another language, if one’s own language has “decided” to adopt these words. Cache in French means “hiding place” (from cacher, to hide). Luckily most people pronounce it almost correctly (except for the a that tends to an e). There is no accent like in cafĂ©, which is why ca-shay would be wrong. Schema is a Greek word, and the normal English pronunciation is the closest to the Greek one that English can get.

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