LGBT pronunciation

lb coup

Member
Southern American English
Hi all,

A quick query. A colleague of mine has been claiming that when spoken this acronym (LGBT) is pronounced LUGBUT. It doesn't sound right to me. Why I bring this up is because lately he's been writing it as LUGBUT too, I imagine to support his theory. To give an example, instead of saying "The LGBT [pronounced as letters] community is up in arms about Ken Cuccinelli's proposed sodomy laws," he would say "LUGBUT [sic] is up in arms...," omitting the "community" while he's at it. I find this unacceptable.
 
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    I've only heard it pronounced as an ordinary initialism ("ell gee bee tee"), but I wouldn't be surprised if some people pronounce it like an acronym. I don't think that's terribly common, but it could be among those who use it frequently.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    No one actually IN this community says it that way in my experience. Is he trying to be offensive? It sounds like something said in a sneering way.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I have never heard it pronounced as an acronym. In my experience, the letters are always pronounced.

    (Unless I had strong evidence that the LGBT community pronounced it as an acronym, I would never spell it out as a word. It has a good chance of appearing to be derisive.)

    Cross-posted with suzi br and JustKate. :)
     

    lb coup

    Member
    Southern American English
    I hope I didn't give that impression. No, he's not sneering when he says it. He just says it like he's an authority. Like they've been saying it that way since Day 1. But he's Peruvian, he's not a native speaker. He also claims it's phonetically more pleasing to the ear to say LUGBUT.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I guess "phonetically pleasing" is in the ear of the listener, but it sounds perfectly dreadful to me. I can imagine a supervisor yelling at a lazy worker and saying, "Don't be such a lugbut!"

    Tell him he really needs to check with some trusted members of that community before using it in public. My guess is that at best, strangers will say "What does that mean?" and at worst, they'll think (like Suzi) that he's being insulting.
     

    lb coup

    Member
    Southern American English
    So, if I can just get some critical consensus here, I can tell him it's insulting. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any hard evidence that it isn't pronounced that way. I don't want to go into that lion's den without a sturdy chair.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I don't know what would be hard evidence that LGBT isn't pronounced as an acronym (lugbut). We all have only heard LGBT said as individual letters. It seems to me that he would have to produce evidence that LGBT was pronounced as a single word in ordinary conversation --- as opposed to a joking reference or mockery.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    If he insists on hard evidence (but why? are we not authoritative enough for him? ;) ), you might try YouTube or something like that. Surely you can find lots of examples of people referring to "LGBT," and if all or nearly all say "ell gee bee tee," he'll have his proof.
     

    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    You might look at the wikipedia page for "LGBT", which defines it as an initialism which grew out of "LGB" (I wonder how he supposes that would have been pronounced?), and is now sometimes extended to "LGBTQ" (ditto).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    If you want another opinion, LBCoup, I too have never ever heard it pronounced other than el-jee-bee-tee ~ and I've heard it pronounced numerous times.
    I also agree with JK and Cagey that lugbut sounds unpleasant and frankly insulting:mad:
     

    lb coup

    Member
    Southern American English
    I am looking on YouTube as we speak. Thank you for that, JustKate. I should have thought of it first. I guess I'm just not part of that generation!
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I don't know how much more authoritative you can get than a native speaking lesbian telling you she never heard anyone in the LGBT community say it as a word!
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    LATE ADDITION: In fact, now that I come to think of it, I can't (off the top of my head) think of any other English initialism which 'fills in gaps' in this way (other than ~ possibly ~ as a joke). If anything, the tendency is in the opposite direction, so that the British organization The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is always shortened to en-ess-pee-see-see, never something like nass-poc. If the initialism creates a readable word (NATO, USDAW* etc.), yes, it's pronounced as a word; if it doesn't, it isn't:)


    * The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing = an initialism that forms a very easily-pronounceable word. (I always wondered what NASCAR stood for.)
     

    lb coup

    Member
    Southern American English
    An interesting question: how would you "fill in" LGBT? Not that it's de rigueur or even hypothetical, but how would you if you had to? I think that's the crux here.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    An interesting question: how would you "fill in" LGBT? Not that it's de rigueur or even hypothetical, but how would you if you had to? I think that's the crux here.
    We wouldn't, I don't think.

    If there were a conventional and acceptable way to turn LGBT into an acronym, it would have been done: reciting the letters is a mouthful.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    There isn't a good way. That's probably one reason why nobody's done it. "Legbit," "lugbut," "ligbet"...there no options that don't sound silly and/or clunky and/or derogatory.

    I can think of one type of abbreviation that is an exception to the "filling in" rule that Ewie mentioned, and that's some military abbreviations. But that hasn't so far caught on out here on Civvy Street, and it doesn't look like it's going to. :)
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    None of my LGBT friends and acquaintances, and I have some in all four categories, ever pronounce it as anything except the four letters. None. Ever. Almost all of them are native speakers of American English; a few, of British English.
     

    lb coup

    Member
    Southern American English
    I think I'll just tell my colleague that standard usage demands a non-acronymized pronunciation (without filling in.) What I expect is that he will revert to his usual argument, like a scorpion in the dirt, for a multiplicity of "Englishes" of which his is only one albeit non-standard variety.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You might add that we consider it a matter of courtesy to pronounce people's names as they prefer them to be pronounced, and that this extends to references to groups of people. If members of the LGBT community pronounce the individual letters, that is the example we follow.
     
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