Pronunciation of "Ngaio"

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Sat May 9 15:57:41 UTC 2009

From:    Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>

> Does anyone know how the New Zealand mystery writer Edith Ngaio Marsh
> pronounced her middle name, which she went by as an author?  Wikipedia
> gives /'naioU/, but I've also heard /'NgaioU/, sometimes with trace of
> an upper mid or high central vowel, and the appalling /n at gaioU/.  I'm
> assuming, on no more grounds than her New Zealand provenance, that the
> name is Maori and that the Maori pronunciation would be /'NaioU/, but
> this obviously would not work for most English speakers.  I don't even
> know for a fact that it would work for Maori speakers.

Actually, i don't know that [NaI.oU] (that is, with a word-initial velar
nasal) wouldn't obviously work for most English speakers--there's a
sizable Vietnamese population here in and around Orlando, and i've heard
people here with no clear connection to that community pronounce
'Nguyen' with a word-initial [N], usually as [NaI.*n].

The beginnings of phonotactic change by borrowing, maybe?

p.s. 'Ng' is pretty consistently [EN], though, in my observation.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list