Thursday, May 19, 2005

Les Misérables: A Linguistic Minefield

Les Misérables is billed as "the most popular musical in the world," or some other equally improbable slogan, so it was no surprise that the phones were flooded once "Les Miz" went on sale in the Pittsburgh area. I kept a running list of the myriad pronunciations people came up with--a complete list can be found at this link. You may need to go to the IPA's webpage and download the SIL Doulos font to be able to read the phonetic transcriptions. I have not indicated stress, but have left spaces to indicate syllabic divison.

This may seem like a cruel thing to do to the general public, reducing them to the role of guinea pigs in my little experiment, but it was a great source of entertainment to me and provided me with an opportunity to dust off my transcription skills, which had somewhat atrophied up to that point.

The geniuses in our marketing department don't have the greatest proofreading skills, and I discovered a listing advertising our tickets for the show as "Les Misérablés". Who are the ad wizards who came up with that one??

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