Friday, February 5, 2010

How do you pronounce “Pileated”?

Over the past couple of days the Indiana state birding e-mail list has been discussing how to pronounce the “pileated” in “Pileated Woodpecker”.

The consensus is that there are two acceptable ways to pronounce the word.

A document on the Cornell web site notes:

PILEATED (Woodpecker) - PIE-lee-ay-tid, PILL-ee-ay-tid (having a pileus or cap). This and the next two are commonly pronounced as the two alternate versions listed from the dictionary. If it bothers you when people say it differently than you do, lighten up. They're just birds, for goodness sakes, and THEY don't care what you call them.”
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/birdname.htm

Then I found a source that says, while they're both acceptable pronunciations, "PIE-lee-ay-tid" is the more common pronounciation:

"So, what's the correct pronunciation? It's pronounced both ways, either 'PIE-lee-ay-tid', or 'PILL-ee-ay-tid', with more folks leaning toward the first pronunciation. Both ways are acceptable."
http://www.visitflorida.com/experts/outdoors_and_nature/action.blog/id.1513

I used to pronounce it "PILL-ee-ay-tid". But that was when I lived in a town with no Pileateds. Then I moved to a place that actually had the birds and I heard people saying "PIE-lee-ay-tid". So I changed. :-)

So how do YOU pronounce it?

5 comments:

  1. I say PIE leated. Only recently have I heard it PILL- eated. No biggie but the birds sure are!!!!

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  2. I am RB and live with a dictionary at my side as when I am reading I want to be sure of what the author means. The pity is that if I encounter the same word the next day I likely may have to do it again. Even then as the fox said to the Little Prince "Words are the source of miss- understanding."

    I would prefer PIEleated to Pilleated as it agrees with the rules of spelling. "A vowel before a consonant is long and before a double consonant is short."

    RB

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  3. Interesting, as I think I'm actually seeing a third pronunciation. My reading here is that the "lee" is pronounced whether the "i" is long (pie) or short (pill). Around here, what I hear often is PIE-lated, that is, the "e" makes the "i" long, and is, therefore, not pronounced.

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    1. I suspect that the three-syllable pronunciation is from a user who has not seen the (forgive me) proper division of the word into its four syllables. Since the Latin root is pileus, I will always pronounce it pill-e-a-ted.

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