pronunciation: byzantine

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

I'm interested in the way you, native speakers (both AmE and BrE), tend to pronounce the word byzantine. So far I've managed to find the following:

a) bɪ'zæntaɪn
b) bə'zæntaɪn
c) baɪ''zæntaɪn
d) 'bɪzəntaɪn
e) 'bɪzəntiːn

(/
æ/ as in cat; /ə/ as in computer; /iː/ as in three, /ɪ/ as in thin; /aɪ/ as in bike)

source: Longman Pronunciation Dictionary

To me, option "a" and "e" sound the most natural.

Thank you!




 
  • shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    I usually pronounce it as Bi zán tine, but sometimes as Bí zan tine. And the 'i' is long as in 'eye'.
     
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    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    There is no grammatical reason for the change. Its probably just an idiosyncratic mood thing. You are aware that the pronunciation of this word does vary between speakers.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    I think I use pronunciation e above.

    Just as a note, there are some words that have pronunciations that vary between speakers of standard dialects--words for which there is no single most common pronunciation that is definitely preferable to others.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I vote for (d) 'bɪzəntaɪn:D

    (C) also works for me...
     
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    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Option e for me as well.

    Considering that all of the AmE speakers in this thread have opted for e, that suggests option e may be the "standard" AmE pronunciation.

    The only other pronunciation I recall ever hearing is 'bzəntiːn. And I presume that pronunciation was a person who knew the word only from written language.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I say (c) - long 'i' (as in 'wine') for first and last syllables. I could just about say (d), since I use the short 'i' in 'Byzantium'.
     

    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    I should also add that my preference should not be interpreted as being typical of an OZ use of the term. You will be aware that the word is rarely used outside scholarly circles, in which case the old saying, 'it depends which university you went to' applies.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian


    Byzantine - /'bɪzənֽtn/
    Byzantium - /bɪ'zæntɪəm/

    I've never heard it pronounced in any other way. Indeed, one seldom discusses the Byzinatine Empire over a glass of brandy. :)
    I find the other versions far too anglicised and detached from what was initially a Greek/Latin word - as if a native speaker saw the word written and attempted to say it the way it sounded good to him/her. :)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    True: one rarely sits down for a chinwag about the Byzantine Empire.
    But: it's not totally unheard-of to see/hear it in its figurative sense ~
    reminiscent of the manner, style, or spirit of Byzantine politics. Hence, intricate, complicated; inflexible, rigid, unyielding (~OED):)
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    True: one rarely sits down for a chinwag about the Byzantine Empire.
    But: it's not totally unheard-of to see/hear it in its figurative sense ~
    reminiscent of the manner, style, or spirit of Byzantine politics. Hence, intricate, complicated; inflexible, rigid, unyielding (~OED):)
    This comment of Ewie's suggests that usage of byzantine is rare. While I do agree that byzantine is not common, I would not characterize it as rarely used.

    I do considerable work involving the interpretation and application of environmental, health, and safety regulations. Byzantine is a most apt descriptor of this arena, and the word is periodically summoned into duty for this purpose. The word is also used in similar contexts; for example I have seen byzantine applied to working with health insurance coverage in the US.
     
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    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    The word is also used quite literally and fairly frequently in inter-denominational religious circles referring to churches of the Byzantine rite.


    EDIT: :eek: Adding on-topic comment. I pronounce it much like Dimcl, but with a short i in the first syllable: biz an teen.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Option e for me as well.

    Considering that all of the AmE speakers in this thread have opted for e, that suggests option e may be the "standard" AmE pronunciation.

    The only other pronunciation I recall ever hearing is 'bzəntiːn. And I presume that pronunciation was a person who knew the word only from written language.
    I've heard (in American English):

    a) bɪ'zæntaɪn
    d) 'bɪzəntaɪn
    e) 'bɪzəntiːn



    I would go for "e", but "d" would sound very natural to me. "a" sounds a little odd to me, but I've heard it. The "baɪ" beginning sounds like British English to me and would sound natural to me in a British English accent.

     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I find the other versions far too anglicised and detached from what was initially a Greek/Latin word - as if a native speaker saw the word written and attempted to say it the way it sounded good to him/her. :)
    Agreed about the first syllable. I would, however, interpret the -ine affix as the one used to form adjectives such other words such as asinine, labyrinthine or Argentine. In my pronunciation all of them end with /aɪn/. I see no reason for the lack of consistency in my pronunciation.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Agreed about the first syllable. I would, however, interpret the -ine affix as the one used to form adjectives such other words such as asinine, labyrinthine or Argentine. In my pronunciation all of them end with /aɪn/. I see no reason for the lack of consistency in my pronunciation.
    Granted. And those are all Latin/Greek words, just like canine, equine, feline...
    The /aɪ/ in the first syllable is far more... unusual. :)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Agreed about the first syllable. I would, however, interpret the -ine affix as the one used to form adjectives such other words such as asinine, labyrinthine or Argentine. In my pronunciation all of them end with /aɪn/. I see no reason for the lack of consistency in my pronunciation.
    I don't know of any consistency when it comes to word endings. I vary, word by word:

    columbine
    saline
    serpentine
    saltine
    aqualine
    magazine
    mezzanine

    I don't think I know anyone who pronounces the "ine" endings on all these words using the same sound.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't know of any consistency when it comes to word endings. I vary, word by word:

    columbine
    saline
    serpentine
    saltine
    aqualine
    magazine
    mezzanine

    I don't think I know anyone who pronounces the "ine" endings on all these words using the same sound.
    Yes, but magazine and mezzanine are not adjectives, and I pronounce them with a final /iːn/. I think all my adjectival forms (divine, feline, riverine) have the /aɪn/ sound.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Perhaps it's a difference in pronunciation between variants of English. The "een" sound is rarer, certainly, in AE, but it still exists.

    Do you pronounce "saline" with the same final sound as "divine"? How about "marine" and "pristine"? It would be nice to have a rule that they are all pronounced with the same sound, and perhaps they are where you live, but I can say for AE that pronouncing marine or pristine with the /aɪn/ sound would be very strange. I believe I've heard "saline" both ways but "say-leen" is far more common here.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, regional difference. I say saline as say-lighn. But you're right, I say marine and pristine as muh-reen and pris-teen, so it's NOT completely consistent - although I wonder whether it's to do with those two being French loan-words.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Yes, regional difference. I say saline as say-lighn. But you're right, I say marine and pristine as muh-reen and pris-teen, so it's NOT completely consistent - although I wonder whether it's to do with those two being French loan-words.
    But "divine" is also from French. I think the only thing that's consistent about English pronunciation and spelling is the inconsistency of both. :)

    Here's one I just thought of that seems to go all over the place:

    clandestine

    It can be "clan-DEST-uhn", "clan-DEST-een", "clan-DEH-styne", "CLAN-duh-styne", "CLAN-duh-steen"...

    In other words, just from looking at a word like "Byzantine" I don't think there's any reliable way to predict its pronunciation.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    But "divine" is also from French. I think the only thing that's consistent about English pronunciation and spelling is the inconsistency of both. :)

    Here's one I just thought of that seems to go all over the place:

    clandestine

    It can be "clan-DEST-uhn", "clan-DEST-een", "clan-DEH-styne", "CLAN-duh-styne", "CLAN-duh-steen"...

    In other words, just from looking at a word like "Byzantine" I don't think there's any reliable way to predict its pronunciation.
    I think, for me, the more transparent the derivational affix (conversion to adjective) is, the more likely I am to say -ighn. So serpentine is obviously derived from serpent, and I say -ighn. (And I think in British-style pronunciation, that is what I hear.) Which is why the last syllable of Byzantine is not controversial for me.

    Clandestine is less transparent, although I also have an -ighn pronunciation (your third option I think: klan-DESS-tyne).

    However, as for libertine there's no option even in BrE - it's LIB-er-teen. This might be because it's mainly a noun (derived from Middle English, freedman, from Latin libertinus).
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I have been watching Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford don (and therefore should know about words), presenting a BBC programme on the history of Christianity and the word 'Byzantine' cropped up a lot in Episode 3 as he focussed on the Orthodox church.

    He curiously vacillated between bye-zan-tyne and bye-zan-tin. (Note: -tin, NOT -teen.)
     
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    JordyBro

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I would use "bye" "zan" (a in cat) "teen". It sounds like the name of a mineral, which makes me opt for "tine"-"teen" like in "serpentine".
     
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