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Pronouncing “gala”

As a follow up to Hairy Scot’s pet peeves. One of mine is the American pronunciation of Gala - gey-luh instead of the traditional English gal-uh.

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You must have seen the same newscast as I did last night!!

Hairy Scot July 11, 2012, 1:40pm

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gala Pronunciation: /ˈgɑːlə, ˈgeɪlə/

AnWulf July 11, 2012, 4:26pm

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Never could decipher those hieroglyphics that are used to indicate pronunciations.

This link illustrates that (according to them) the American and UK pronunciations differ.
(Now there's a surprise!!)

Hairy Scot July 11, 2012, 4:32pm

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Probably the same with data.

But what about baba, java, gaga, haka, lama, lava, mama, mana, nada, nana, papa, saga,
etc etc.

'Twould seem that gayla and dayta may be out of line.

Hairy Scot July 11, 2012, 4:39pm

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If one accepts the gey in gey-la why not go full hog and say gey-ley? Hairy Scot's link demonstrates clearly the abnormality of the gey-la pronunciation.

( )

Figroll July 11, 2012, 10:48pm

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The Oxford Dict on my laptop has it as gala ... ˈgālə, ˈgalə ... whereas the ˈgeɪlə show a slight 'r' (that's not truly an 'r' but it shows something slightly nother to a short a) ...

Anyway, so gala in Britain doesn't match galactic gəˈlaktik or galago gəˈlāgō, -ˈlägō or gallant gəˈlant. ... Nor the other byspels given: baba ˈbäˌbä ... ˈjävə, ˈjavə ... gaga ˈgäˌgä ... lama ˈlämə ... mama ˈmämə ... mana ˈmänə ... nada ˈnädə ... papa ˈpäpə ... ˈsägə All of these do NOT match the British galə.

Gala seems to be pretty much out there on its own on both sides of the pond.

However, you giv us gay-la and will giv yu shedule (from Greek skhedē) ... Unless you also to say shool (school), shooner, sheme)

AnWulf July 12, 2012, 4:38am

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The OED on my desktop has:
/ˈɡaːlə/ /ˈɡeɪlə/
Etymology: < French gala, < Italian gala.
But as I said in another post, I can never figure out these glyphics.

Gay-la, like Ae-dolf, Ae-rab, Aetrium, is seldom if ever heard in the UK.
The examples I quoted all use what might, in simple terms, be termed a hard "a".
At the risk of seeming homophobic, "gay-la" definitely sounds gay.

Never heard "shedule" used much in the UK either.

Hairy Scot July 12, 2012, 5:32am

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For me the abnormality of the Gey-luh pronunciation stands out in stark contrast to both British and non-English ( French, Italian Portuguese, Polish and Icelandic to name a few ) pronunciations of the word. I can see no logic other then bastardization of the word from its root.

Maybe I am an outlier but the jarring effect of this pet peeve is immense.

Figroll July 12, 2012, 6:14am

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I find it somewhat ironic that one who holds strongly to the Germanic roots of the English language and normally vehemently objects to any Mediterranean influences should favour the "SK" pronunciation of "SCH" when the normal Germanic pronunciation is "SH".

Mediator July 12, 2012, 10:32am

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Is there in fact a hard and fast rule about when "a" is hard (AH) or soft (AE)?

We have saga and sago, tomato and potato,

Mediator July 12, 2012, 11:17am

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@Mediator ... The 'sch' in schedule is not from German. So it is irrelevant, not meaningful, it recks not that the Germans note 'sch' as we note 'sh'. Then they also note 'w' where we hav 'v', 'v' where we hav 'f', the German 'st' = 'sht', 'sp' = 'shp', and they hav lost the 'th' sound all together. Now if yu want, "We work at the store" to sound like "Ve vork at te shtor" then we can note German right-spelling in English. Otherwise, we hav our own way of writing the 'sh' sound and that is 'sh', 'sch' (unless a German loanword) is wontedly an 'sk' sound. FWIW, I think all loanwords should be changed to the rightspelling of English ... thus those German loanwords should be changed to 'sh' but then most of them are names! ... And if they go thru Yiddish, they often are ... shmatte, shmear, shmo, shmooze, shmuck, shnook.

In the befall of "schedule" the 'ch' = the Greek χ which is fonetically shown in English by 'kh' but wontedly written as 'ch' (school, character, scheme). Thus, the 'sch' shows the Greek 'skh'. The British way to say it ("shed-yul") is from French influence (tho not the spelling), while the US ("sked-yul") is based on the Greek original. That the Brits like the French way better is their choice but it doesn't jive with other Greek χ rooted 'sch'/'ch' words.

As for me, I'd like to drop the 'sch' altogether and go with either 'sk' or 'sh' hing(e)ing on how it is said. I'd be happy with skool, karacter, and skeme. If one wants to stay true to the χ then 'kh' ... skhool, kharacter, and skheme.
BTW, sked is often seen in the US, it's only a matter of time now before schedule becomes skedule in the US.

No problem with tomato and potato on our side of the pond ... the rime (rhyme) over here. :)

AnWulf July 12, 2012, 5:45pm

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I don't think one can argue that a word should be pronounced a certain way on the basis of how similarly spelled words are pronounced. What about "dive" and "give", "food" and "good", "bead" and "head", etc.

goofy July 13, 2012, 3:44am

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Completely off topic, and nothing to do with language.
I see from your profile that you were in the US armed forces and I am curious about the way in which certain behaviours of military personnel are depicted in American movies.
In particular I find it strange that military personnel are shown saluting while seated, saluting while indoors, and saluting while uncovered (not wearing cap or other headgear).
I always believed that military personnel uncover when indoors and never salute when uncovered or seated.
Is the movie depiction accurate?

Hairy Scot July 18, 2012, 8:12pm

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Gey-la is the usual pronunciation of gala in the north-east of England as in the Durham Miners' Gala (gey-la).

Percy July 23, 2012, 6:09am

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I guarantee that if you go a few miles north to the town of Galashiels and try that pronunciation you will certainly get more than just a few strange looks.

Perfect Pedant July 23, 2012, 1:24pm

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I think it is time to explode the myth that the hotchpotch of perverse pronunciation, suspect spelling, and garbled grammar that Americans so arrogantly proclaim to be correct English is anything but a corruption of the language.
Call it what you will; Amerish, Americanish, Amish; it is not English.

Mediator July 23, 2012, 1:31pm

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. . . as you would if you said Garla-shields (which is in Scotland not NE England).

Percy July 23, 2012, 8:32pm

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Oxford Dictionary to cease after adding ‘amazeballs’
February 24, 2012 258 3 319
Word News: The Oxford English Dictionary has announced plans to add the word ‘amazeballs’ to its latest edition and then immediately cease publishing.
“Throughout its long and distinguished history, the Oxford English Dictionary has sought to reflect the language of the time,” said Oxford University Press spokesman Gideon Huggs-Bosom.

“And it is precisely because of that we will cease publication and instead focus on wallowing in intense despair at the state of modern language.”

Aside from the existence of the word amazeballs, the University Press has also cited other reasons for them closing down forever.

They say that the dictionary is irrelevant in contemporary times – as people ‘rely on the auto-correct on their phones’, or ‘just use Google as a spellchecker’.

“Work began on the Oxford English Dictionary in 1857, so it’s a sad day for us,” said Huggs-Bosom. “On the other hand, I’ll have totes freemium time to chillax with my bros on staycation.”

Hairy Scot July 23, 2012, 10:47pm

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With Collins inviting the public to submit entries for its latest dictionary last week, new words – or neologisms – are a hot topic at the moment. This year has been a particularly fertile one for them, starting in April with Ed Milliband’s use of omnishambles in Prime Minister’s Question Time. Since then there seems to have been an unstoppable barrage of newly-minted and mostly annoying items of vocabulary.
One of the more annoying examples has come from Geordie Shore, which gave us the concept of tash-on (or kissing to non-residents of the north east). Also the blogosphere (a neologism itself) has gifted us the term amazeballs to describe our unfettered sense of wonderment at Kim Kardashian’s new shoes. Finally the world of fashion has delivered up the utterly unnecessary concepts of mantyhose, manscara and manlashes, all of which are new accessories for the more metrosexually (there goes another one) inclined male.
Annoying they might be, but neologisms are nothing new. Our language is not some divine set of lexical commandments that we are only now beginning to profane. The creation of new vocabulary is as old as language itself. The greatest single creator of neologisms in the history of English is William Shakespeare, who was writing at a time – more than 400 years ago – when our language was undergoing a transition from Middle English to Modern English and as such was even more fluid and malleable than it is today.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary over 2,200 words are neologisms from Shakespeare, some 50% of which are still in use today. Examples of Shakespearian inventions are frugal, horrid and obscene. Shakespeare also played with existing language, combining words into new compounds like bloodstained and barefaced, turning verbs into nouns and adding prefixes to create new meanings such as unlock and unhand.
The case of Shakespeare highlights a rich source of new words: literature. A vast store of our modern lexicon comes from writers of various eras and styles. Defunct, clumsy, explain, and robot are just a few examples. The titles of books themselves can become neologisms. Take Catch 22 for example. Even the authors of works have given their names to new terms. Witness Orwellian from George Orwell; sadism and sadistic from the Marquis de Sade or Machiavellian from the Italian political philosopher Machiavelli.
With new discoveries new words must be coined and science is a rich seam of such nuggets. X-ray, black hole and Internet being just a few well-known examples. Of course when science fact catches up with science fiction, experts often find the words they need already invented by their literary forebears. Cyberspace, hyperspace and phaser are all words that science fiction gifted to the language.
Politics too is a word generator, not just by popularising little-known phrases from sitcoms, as in the case of Ed Milliband, but by creating new words to make political points and focus political causes. Genocide, political correctness and homophobia are all terms coined with a political or sociological purpose.
As the breadth and range of our media has increased, so too have the sources of new words. They now come from TV, radio and film as well as literature. American Pie popularised the acronym milf, which until recently in my innocent mind stood for Mature Independent Lady-Friend (I have since been disabused of my innocence in this regard). TV programmes have given us countless new words from the highbrow omnishambles of The Thick of It to the decidedly less so clunge of The Inbetweeners. Even cartoons are getting in on the act. The Simpsons alone has provided us with Homer’s doltish d’oh! and Bart’s apathetic meh.
Of course the explosion of social media over the last couple of decades has intensified and accelerated the creation of new words and phrases. The 21st century really has seen a baby boom of new language as different cultures interact and cross-pollinate.
In his book The Wonder of Whiffling, Adam Jacot de Boinod lists some of the best creations of the century so far. Some of my favourites of which are: cuddle puddle, a term for a heap of exhausted ravers; smirting, smoking and flirting while confined to an outside smoking area; Picasso porn, the interfered signal of a porn channel seen by those without a subscription; nom de womb, the name of an unborn baby; and menoporsche, for the desperate middle-aged purchase of a sports car.
So where will language take us in the future? What will be the omnishambles grenade hurled into next year’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, or next decade’s? What will be the bromance of 2050? We just don’t know and it is absolutely impossible for us to guess. That is the beauty of language and of the minds and cultures that produce it – its sheer bolt-from-the-blue unpredictability and originality.
It’s easy to scoff at such terms as chillax and legbomb but we shouldn’t do so. We should celebrate them instead for the vibrant, pulsating ingenuity they represent. They are the products of language, living and breathing and recreating in front of our very eyes. They are the manifestation of humanity’s instinctive need to create new things, and as such they are truly amazeballs.

Hairy Scot July 23, 2012, 10:50pm

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@Hairy Scot ... Just to make sure I said this right, I look'd it up in Army's FM 22.5 (the Field Manual for Drill and Ceremony):

When reporting to an officer in his office, the soldier removes his headgear, knocks, and enters when told to do so. He approaches within two steps of the officer's desk, halts, salutes, and reports, "Sir (Ma'am), Private Jones reports." The salute is held until the report is completed and the salute has been returned by the officer. When the business is completed, the soldier salutes, holds the salute until it has been returned, executes the appropriate facing movement, and departs. When reporting indoors under arms, the procedure is the same except that the headgear is not removed and the soldier renders the salute prescribed for the weapon with which he is armed.


To clarify ... One doesn't salute indoors UNLESS one is REPORTING to a superior officer. Reporting doesn't include just going into the commander's office. Reporting is a bit more serious and a lot more formal than someone telling you that the captain wants to see you. In that case, I'd knock on the door and say, "Sir, you wanted to see me?" ... But if I am told to REPORT to the captain, then I'm probably in trouble anyway and need to "toe the line".

Also, that's the Army's rule. The other branches may be different. I don't think the Marines salute while under arms.

I hope that helps ... BTW, movies and TV often get a lot of things wrong about the military. Truly, it wouldn't cost much to hire a vet to or even, nowadays, to go online and check the FMs.

AnWulf July 25, 2012, 10:10am

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@Mediator ... pronunciations and spellings are always changing. Most of the "American" spellings are nothing more than earlier spellings from Middle English or early Modern English. "Colour" is a French rooted spelling.

colour - Origin: Middle English: from Old French colour (noun), colourer (verb), from Latin color (noun), colorare (verb)

c1400(?c1380) Cleanness (Nero A.10) 456: Þat watz þe raven so ronk..He watz ***colored*** as þe cole.
c1540(?a1400) Destr.Troy (Htrn 388) 1063: Medowes & mounteyns myngit with ffloures, ***Colord*** by course as þaire kynd askit.
(1460) Will York in Sur.Soc.30 248: iij yerdis of ***collerd*** cloyth to a gowne.
a1500(1422) Yonge SSecr.(Rwl B.490) 230/5: Tho that haue eyen ***y-colorid*** like rede wyne ben dysposyd to woodnesse. < read wodeness.

Dropping the 'u' from colour to color was well-establish'd in ME and inline with the Latin spelling. Some preferr'd the French spelling of colour ...

Same thing with honor: c1300 SLeg.And.(Hrl 2277) 101: Wiþ gret ***honor*** hi hit [þe holi bodi] neme adoun and to buringe bere.

The screwy one is harbor ... Chaucer wrote: I saugh nat this yeer so murye a compaignye At ones in this ***herberwe*** [variations: herberw, herburhe, herborowe, harborowe, herbergh] as is now. ... Harbor with -our is taking the FRENCH ending and putting it to an Anglo-rooted word. That's just wrong on so many levels. Might as well go kiss a Frenchman's rear end and thank him for screwing up the spelling!

We go to a word like through ... OE þurh (thurh) ... so how did we get to through? Move the 'r' ... swap in the French 'ou' for 'u' and the French 'gh' (that's how the Norman-French scribes wrote the somewhat and sometimes guttural 'h' (hinging on the the dialect) ... Oh and the French 'th' for þ ... so now, the only Anglo spelling left is the 'r'! We don't hav the þ anymore, so we're stuck with the 'th' ... put the 'r' in ... 'thr' ... now put 'u' insted of the French 'ou' ... 'thru' ... unless one speaks with the guttural ending, one is 'thru' at that point. No need to keep piling on letters. But if you like the non-fonetic, French-rooted spelling of through, by all means, keep writing it.

The French right-spelling (orthography) put to Anglo words has screw'd up a lot of spellings. Heck, French "wrong"-spelling is screw'd up for French! But we can't blame it all on the French.

Just today, I had a Spanish speaking guy tell me that he calls a pickle a "pick-le" (with the "le = lay". Pickle comes from Middle Dutch/Low German "pekel" ... in ME it was pikel, pikkel, pikulle, & pekel.

I'm writing a long blog on spelling ... it's so screw'd up!

I'll leav yu with a few lines from "The Faerie Queen", Edmund Spencer (with v swappt for u when befitting):

Thus ill bestedd, and fearefull more of shame

So been they parted both, with harts* on edge …

At her so pitteous cry was much amoov'd

Her champion stout, and for to aide his frend,

Againe his wonted angry weapon proov'd:

But all in vaine: for he has read his end

Great God it planted in that blessed sted

*Hart is the more common spelling; but e before r was generally sounded a, as in clerk. This fact is recognised in the modern clumsy spelling of heart, which contains both the e and the a … — "A Biographical History of English Literature"

AnWulf July 25, 2012, 11:14am

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Glad to see you're back on form.
Interesting that although some of the American spellings may come from very early English some of the pronunciations do not follow suit.
You state "e before r was generally sounded a, as in clerk" yet words like "clerk" and "derby" which have the "a" sound in UK English are almost always pronounced with an "e" sound by Americans.

I know you are not enamoured of the latinate or romance language influence on the English language, but it does seem to me that those influences have led to a great deal of the subtleties and nuances which so many of us enjoy.

In the thread on Anglish I see that someone stated that the scholars and aristocrats had browbeaten the common man with the use of words and phrases imported from Latin and French.
My feeling is that the Latin, French, and Germanic influences are all valid and that each in their different way added something to the English Language.

IMHO neither one nor the other is of greater or lesser importance.

Comparing the two areas of influence I often think of broadsword and épée.

The UK TV series "The Adventure of English" provides a very good insight into the development of the language and is definitely worth watching.

Hairy Scot July 25, 2012, 1:40pm

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I'm American...I have NEVER said Geyluh....GAL-UH!! I've never heard anyone Ive ever known say Geyluh either. One person doesn't make a whole country pronounce a word wrong.

Britophile July 25, 2012, 6:13pm

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I'm only on for a day or two ... the net is still out at the house tho a fix may be in sight!

The quote about hart at the end of my writing is not me saying it ... it's a quote from the book, a very old book (1873), and publish'd in London. So it's the opinion of a British writer, not an American one.

Until a few years ago, I had a neighbor who was English ... sometimes his accent got pretty thick and it was hard to understand him since he dropp'd a lot of letters out of words. I'll look on my old laptop when I get back to see if I still hav a link to video made by British TV (I think) quoting an Englishman way back in the 1700s that the English spoken in the "colonies" was a good as and often better than the English spoken by the upper class in England.

I can tell yu that the wide changes in spellings in Old English and even more so in Middle English from region to region (soke to soke) show that there was no one way of saying the words ... much less of spelling them. So before yu can claim that the "British" way of saying a word is the right way ... first yu must decide WHICH British way of saying yu're going to pick! Bob was a smart guy but he gewiss (certainly) didn't sound like anyone from the BBC!

The Latinates that I shun are those that needlessly shov'd aside their Anglo opposits. A Latinate here or there for "taste" or a change of pace is ok. But some of the burocratic or academic writings want to make slam those folks head into the wall. Think I'm "exaggerating"? Here's a quote: "The every-day vocabulary of the less educated is of Old English, commonly called Anglo-Saxon, origin ..." from "The Romance of Words", 1912, Chapter 1.

Another one to show that this bias is still with us, this one from 2010 on the Anglish thread: … loosely speaking, English has three levels of discourse: a colloquial level using words of Saxon origin, a sophisticated or poetic level using words of French origin, and a formal level using words of Latin origin.

Neither one of those is true. I can write well without noting many Latinates but sadly, too many folks would be lost since they were taught the Latinate and not the Anglo-rooted word.

I'll giv you one more byspel ... I'v finish'd my novel ... now it's time to go back thru and look for typos and such but the plot is more or less done. The book has over 156,000 words. Not once has one of my beta readers bemoan'd a Latin phrase ... a whole phrase ... but they hav whine'd about a few lesser known Anglo-rooted words! I can throw out almost any dumb, long-winded Latinate, a Latin word (or, yes, even a French word), or Latin phrase and they think I'm being worldly ... if I put out an out-of-date, obsolete, or archaic Anglo-rooted word, well Hells-bells! How dare I shuv aside an Latinate for (often a shorter) Anglo-rooted word!

There is one exception ... but she is reading an old Scottish novel and luvs some the old words that I note ... but she is the only one. Sigh ...

AnWulf July 25, 2012, 6:30pm

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@Britophile I lived on the west coast for five years and when an event got labeled as a gala, I only ever heard tv anchors and radio disc jockeys pronounce it as gey-luh. So to turn things around...

One person doesn't make a whole country pronounce a word correctly.

Figroll July 25, 2012, 11:22pm

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Anwulf, what's the book about?

Jasper July 26, 2012, 3:12am

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Hmm, I say either say the 'al' in gala like the 'al' in the word "malice" or the 'al' in "Allah" (couldn't think of a better example for the second one, "ball" is too much of an "o" sound to work) I have never said gala like the name "Kayla". (I'm from New England if location matters)

Kat August 16, 2012, 10:47am

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whose ever said it like that??????????????????

efefw October 21, 2012, 11:57am

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@Perfect Pedant - a bit late, but as somebody with Douglas connections, I wouldn't argue about anything to do with the borders with somebody called Percy. And as Percy says, Galashiels is of course pronounced /ɡæləˈʃiːəlz/ not /ɡɑːləˈʃiːəlz/ with an a as in cat, not a as in car. No doubt gala is pronounced /ɡɑːlə/ in Scotland as well as most of England, but equally, Durham is famous for its "gayla".

Warsaw Will October 23, 2012, 7:23am

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Gayla is, I believe, an earlier pronunciation that lives on in the UK only in the north of England. It is the Durham Miners' Gayla. Elsewhere in the UK gahla prevails.

Skeeter Lewis October 26, 2012, 12:57am

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Hi Will, I see you got there first. I missed your comment on Durham.

Skeeter Lewis October 26, 2012, 12:59am

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@Skeeter Lewis - I'd love to take the glory, but it was the aptly named Percy who got there first. I was just backing him up.

Warsaw Will October 26, 2012, 6:38am

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In my native Over Wyre, a flat farming region between Lancaster and Blackpool in Lancashire, UK, there is a strong tradition of holding annual summer galas in each village. We pronounce it "geyla" rather than "garla".

nth86 June 29, 2013, 4:02am

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Yes     No