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Pronunciation seems to vary depending on the source, usually either SPY-kuh or SPEE-kuh. Which is correct?

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    $\begingroup$ It might depend on global locality or language being used. As a native English speaker I pronounce it as SPY-kuh. Then again, with the current omicron variant of Covid 19, most non British speakers of English pronounce it as OM-ikron, whereas many British speakers of English pronounce it as Ohm-ikron. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ I moe or less considered Spica prounced "spick ah". You might want to watch the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles"; in the first bar scene Cyrano Jones and the bartender discuss "Spican flame gems". $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ There's no reason to close this question and block anyone from adding an answer. Communicating about astronomy may include speaking and challenging words may need some pointers since Astronomical names can have interesting stories. voting to leave open to allow others to continue to post answers because this may have several interesting ones! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred I've mostly heard "Ohm-ikron" in the US as well, but then I'm also more used to hearing that in relation to computer science. People who say "OM-ikron" are either flustered over learning a new word, or sometimes just pretending not to know how to pronounce things in a form of subtle mockery - they're just as likely to add that superfluous 'N' in there, and call it "Omnicron". $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Close voters: pronounciation may vary regionally and by language, but definitely is not opinion-based... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 15:13

3 Answers 3

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There is no general accepted pronunciation. Spica is a Latin word and there is no globally uniform pronunciation for Latin. How you pronounce Latin depends on your mother tongue as Latin most often is pronounced as if it were pronounced in the most familiar way to the language you speak. Yet, Wiktionary gives the pronunciation as /ˈspiː.ka/ or [ˈs̠piːkä], thus spee-kuh.

Many foreign words are pronounced in English as if they were English words (which is fine, of course - especially for a word like Spica which has been in the English language for centuries, found even in its original Latin meaning), so in the English-speaking world you might most often find it pronounced as Spy-kuh [ˈspaɪkə].

Yet if your mother tongue and / or your audience is of different language background, you will find it pronounced differently. From a very limited sample size, yet most people from different European language backgrounds I met would pronounce it similar to the quoted Latin above, thus Spee-kuh [ˈspiːka]. Listen to the name pronounced here in different languages.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I also wanted to clarify, [ˈspɪ:kə] seems to be for German, but in French it'd be more like [spiˈkɐ]. $\endgroup$
    – wjandrea
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ That's why I linked the sound samples :) - and it stresses the first paragraph: no general accepted pronounciation :) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with your affirmation that “there is no globally uniform pronunciation for Latin.” It is obvious that there was a (presumably) single way to pronounce it in Antiquity, as it was the mother tongue of most (West-)Europeans back then. This is called Classical Latin. It then “evolved” to Middle Latin, then Renaissance Latin, and I guess that’s when local accents started appearing. I prefer to pronounce it the Classical way: “Ave” would be “ah-way” and “circa” would be “kir-kah,” for example. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 2:59
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It might depend on global locality or language being used. As a native English speaker I pronounce it as SPY-kuh. Then again, with the current omicron variant of Covid 19, most non British speakers of English pronounce it as OM-ikron, whereas many British speakers of English pronounce it as Ohm-ikron. The British and Americans can't agree on a common pronunciation of tomato, leisure or oregano. They even have different words for capsicum/bell pepper, zucchini/courgette, freeway/motor way, pavement/sidewalk (elsewhere foot path), diabase/dolerite.

Then there's the tricky issue amongst English speakers of how to pronounce Uranus and how the word is divided into syllables. American pronunciation is usually Uran-us, elsewhere it can be pronounced You-ranus - something very close to a part of the anatomy, which is unfortunate.

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    $\begingroup$ The fun bit of the whole omicron thing is that neither the BrE nor AmE speakers are technically correct, it’s OH-mikron (or, more correctly with modern Greek pronunciation, roughly OH-mee-kron). But then, anglophones always seem to actively force their own pronunciation rules on any loan word they come across... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ At school teachers would pronounce Uranus so that it sounds like ''urinous'', which is not much better. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @HollisWilliams: Thank you for that. Until now I wasn't aware of such a pronunciation. Yet another example of how one word can be troublesome. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ just fyi the bounty on What's known about Odd Radio Circle appearance? What would they look like if we could see them? Are they transparent/translucent in radio, or opaque? expires 2022-03-31 00:44 (plus a 24 hour invisible grace period) I see you've done some reading of recent results and started an answer that looks good... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 1:42
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Pronunciation seems to vary depending on the source, usually either SPY-kuh or SPEE-kuh. Which is correct?

SPY-kuh!

The Oxford English Dictionary or "OED" calls itself:

The definitive record of the English language

It gives two pronunciations:

Brit. /ˈspʌɪkə/, U.S. /ˈspaɪkə/

The page has little audio players, one for each. They both sound pretty much "SPY-kuh". "Spy" like with "my little eye" (I'll call it a long "I" vowel) and kuh like in "cusp".

The Oxford English Dictionary for Spika (noun)

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  • $\begingroup$ We can direct all future pronunciation questions to this question and close as duplicate. In other words, just go to the OED and be done with it! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 10:58

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