Yesterday, I attended a focus group discussion organized by an editorial director from Routledge. There is nothing unusual about the meeting itself which is worth mentioning here. But towards the end of it, a small amusing (well, at least amusing to me) thing happened. One of the participants, a native speaker of English, asked the representative from Routledge: “How do you say the name of your company?”
I found it amusing because he was interested in the pronunciation, and he dared to ask. (These are all academics with PhDs.)
I recently had a similar experience. I was attending a conference in Singapore, and one evening while loitering on Orchard Road, I saw a new huge shopping mall, the name of which is ION. I began to figure out how to say it. Should the first syllable be AI or EE?
The next thing I did I went up to the enquiries counter and asked the receptionist: “How do you say the name of this shopping mall? Do you say AI-en or EE-en?”
I bet nobody had ever asked her a question like that, and all she could do was burst out laughing. When she managed to compose herself, she told me that both my pronunciations were wrong; they said AI-ON.
So, I learnt another pronunciation. And another pronunciation I learnt while in Singapore is that most people there actually say the first two syllables in ‘Singapore’ as ‘singer’ (i.e., without the /g/). There is so much fun in pronunciation.