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The Pronunciation of Smaug.

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johanna Personally, I've always said Smawg in my mind ... the "au" being an "aw" as in auxiliary. After watching the movie, though, I began to wonder ... as the characters referred to Smaug as Smowg. To me, Smowg makes me think of Mowgli in the Jungle Book. Not nearly noble enough for a dragon ... but what about you? How do you pronounce it?


Peter Olofsson It's probably a nordic pronunciation since it was from those countries Tolkien got his inspiration for the languages.

SMAU-GH


Kcgood I always assumed it would be pronounced "smog," as in an airborne pestilence.


Eliza Anastasio yeah same, always thought it was "smog" it created a cool image? you could picture the smoke from his nostrils filling the mines that were picturesque and shining when the dwarves lived there v cool


M.R. Graham It's consistent with his other pronunciations, though - SOW-ron, SOW-roo-man.
I don't like the way it feels in my mouth, though.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Smorg?


R.L. Herron According to Appendix E of "The Lord of the Rings":
'au (aw) as in loud or how - and not as in laud or haw'

So, Smaug is technically pronounced 'Smoug.'

I always thought it was the other way around, but Tolkien was a student of languages, and it would not be in keeping with his overall consistency to depart from his own pronunciation guides, no matter how sad it makes me to see it.


Candice In the 1977 movie (animated), I believe they say it "Smog" We watch it every year at Christmas :D


Carina I always pronounced it the same way you pronounce Smörgåsbord.

I didn't actually notice, or recall, how it was said in The Hobbit - I'll have to pay more attention next Christmas.


David Miller It is very definitively pronounced with the vowel in "how." Tolkien's orthography for words in his invented languages is very consistent and does not have much to with how typical English words are pronounced: C and G are always hard, DH represents the sound of the TH in "the," and so on.

The most straightforward way to represent these sounds is with the IPA (international phonetic alphabet). In IPA, the symbols [aʊ] represent the vowel of "how." The symbol [ɑ] represents the vowel of "smog" in most varieties of American English. And the symbol [ɔ] represents the vowel in the word "caught" (unless you speak a dialect that rhymes "caught" with "cot").

So Smaug is pronounced /smaʊɡ/, not /smɑɡ/ or /smɔɡ/. Likewise, Sauron is pronounced /saʊɹɑn/, not /sɔɹɑn/. Saruman, however, is pronounced /sɑɹumɑn/, not /sɑʊɹumɑn/.

Here's more on the IPA at wikipedia if you can't make sense of these symbols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internat...


message 12: by Gerd (last edited Feb 16, 2013 10:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gerd It never occured to me that "Smaug" could be pronounced any other way than whith an emphasis on the S and an pronounced a-u sound, like, well, the ou in "loud" I guess.
Which would make it sound like "Smoug" to an English ear I guess...


johanna David wrote: "It is very definitively pronounced with the vowel in "how." Tolkien's orthography for words in his invented languages is very consistent and does not have much to with how typical English words ar..."

Very informative, thank you for taking the time to reply!

Thanks everyone for the helpful answers :)


message 14: by Matt (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt Crumpton I don't know the correct way to pronounce it, but I have always said it like 'smog'. I think it is a really cool name for a dragon.


message 15: by M.R. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.R. Graham David wrote: "So Smaug is pronounced /smaʊɡ/, not /smɑɡ/ or /smɔɡ/. Likewise, Sauron is pronounced /saʊɹɑn/, not /sɔɹɑn/. Saruman, however, is pronounced /sɑɹumɑn/, not /sɑʊɹumɑn/."


Psssht, look at me completely failing to spell. xD
Sorry about that.


Kenzie smog


Maari usually either smawg or smog


message 18: by Ted (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ted Kraynick I always said "smog" in my head. Play on words. Dragon spewing smoke with a name that sounds like slang for air pollution, as others have also said above in this thread.


message 19: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Kaye I always pronounced Smaug as Smoug as in how, or now.


Stephen Palmer Smaug as in how
Just like Sauron as in how-ron


Child of Ilúvatar So apparently it is 'Smoug'. I'm horrified that I've mispronounced it as 'Smawg' all this time! This will be difficult to adjust to. Although I managed to wrap my head around the idea that Hermione was pronounced 'Her-MY-oh-nee' rather than 'Her-ME-on' all those years ago, so perhaps it can be done.


Stephen Palmer I mis-pronounced Sauron in my head for a while. Change can be made however...


David Miller Ted wrote: "I always said "smog" in my head. Play on words. Dragon spewing smoke with a name that sounds like slang for air pollution, as others have also said above in this thread."

Smaug's name is a play on words, but it's not a play on smog. This is what Tolkien said about it:

"The dragon bears as name—a pseudonym—the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb smugan, to squeeze through a hole: a low philological jest."

This of course comes from the fact that Smaug has burrowed himself inside the tunnels of the Lonely Mountain.

Tolkien's spellings are very much based on Germanic conventions, which can be confusing for English speakers today because those conventions predate the Great Vowel shift of approximately five hundred years ago. A word like "house," for instance, was pronounced in Old and Middle English like "hoose" would be today. Same with mouse, plough, growl, bout, cow, and most other words with that sound that we spell with "ou" or "ow." Only a couple of words, like "soup," managed to resist the shift.

In contrast, a word like "law" would have been pronounced like we now say "loud" (minus the d, of course).

Generally, you can do well with personal names in Tolkien's works if you just pretend that the Great Vowel Shift never happened. There's a basic description of the shift at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_vo...


johanna David wrote: "Ted wrote: "I always said "smog" in my head. Play on words. Dragon spewing smoke with a name that sounds like slang for air pollution, as others have also said above in this thread."

Smaug's name ..."


Thank you for that information! I never knew those facts!


johanna Child of Ilúvatar wrote: "So apparently it is 'Smoug'. I'm horrified that I've mispronounced it as 'Smawg' all this time! This will be difficult to adjust to. Although I managed to wrap my head around the idea that Hermione..."

Haha, agreed. .-.


Stephen Palmer Interesting points, David.


Nicole The author said he pronounced it "smowg" as in ouch.


Eliza I say smog... Everyone who is making the "Sauron" or "Saruman" argument, I pronounce Sauron like Soron (saur as in dinosaur) and sah-roo-man. These are probably wrong, but in my head that's how I say them... And I like being consistent with the movies ;)


message 29: by Evan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Evan I say it as "Smawg" as in awe, but i don't doubt that they had it pronounced right in the film.


johanna Sampsom wrote: "I say it as "Smawg" as in awe, but i don't doubt that they had it pronounced right in the film."

Finally, someone who says it as incorrectly as I do ^.^!


message 31: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Williams Just think; how would a dragon pronounce it?


johanna Jim wrote: "Just think; how would a dragon pronounce it?"

... I can imagine a dragon pronouncing it all three/four ways xD


message 33: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Williams the awg would sound like a horn


Sparrowlicious German is my native language. I have no problem pronouncing words that have an 'au' in them.
So yeah, I pronounce it as 'Smaug'.
Lol.
I know that doesn't tell you anything if you can't speak German.


Gabriel Cooper Don't let phonetics ruin your enjoyment of a book. Pronounce it how you like and accept that others will do the same.


Sophie I've always said "Sm-or-g"...


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

I pronounce it Sm-awg.


Andrew Personally I always said Smaug that morgue.


message 39: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate I always said something between Smog and Sm'ow'g, but was surprised to hear PJ calling him Schmaug recently -- I wonder if he was influenced by Smörgåsbord?


johanna Kate wrote: "I always said something between Smog and Sm'ow'g, but was surprised to hear PJ calling him Schmaug recently -- I wonder if he was influenced by Smörgåsbord?"

Mmm, they said Schmaug and Schmeagol o:


Tilly I always thought it was 'smog'


Claire Frances I say smaug. Pronouncing the Aug like in august.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Sum- orrg.

...at least that's how I say it...


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I read the Icelandic version and he is called Smeyginn so it's a completely different pronunciation. With this version of his name it definitely refers to squeezing through holes and not his smoke. Interesting fact, in viking times the word worm also meant dragon.


message 45: by Erik (new) - rated it 4 stars

Erik The entire Tolkien world can be a linguistic nightmare for me. I guess I've just accepted in my head a certain pronunciation right or wrong. You could start a whole other topic on books that can tie your tongue.


Donna Davis I read this book out loud to a whole generation of middle schoolers (several times daily for many years) and it turns out I pronounced it wrong. I always thought it was "smog" too. This is what I get for taking an incomplete in diction all those years ago before I taught; I hope the kids (now adults) will forgive me.

That said, I could have said "Smowg" if I'd known my pronunciations better, but I could never pronounce any Nordic words correctly.


Rachel Kcgood wrote: "I always assumed it would be pronounced "smog," as in an airborne pestilence."

Ditto!


message 48: by Erin (last edited Nov 16, 2013 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Stephen wrote: "I mis-pronounced Sauron in my head for a while. Change can be made however..."

Fascinating David! Having studied German, I'm making the transition to smaug from smawg very easily.

Although I must admit the connection between smog and Smaug never occurred to me and I think it's quite amusing:)


message 49: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will Once US English tends to be more consistent in pronunciation than UK English. It is mostly down to Noah Webster who "Americanized" many words, such as "colour" to "color". He reasoned that the "ou" sound in "colour" should be pronounced as "ow" as in "sour", so changed the spelling to "color".

This means that US English words are more likely to be pronounced as they are written. So an American looking at a new word like "Smaug" would look for a similarly spelt word to use as a guide.

There's a lovely example of this from Claire back in May: "I say smaug. Pronouncing the Aug like in august."

A UK English speaker, on the other hand, has to cope with much less consistency about how words are pronounced. This means that we generally have to learn each pronunciation and we rely a lot less on looking for similar words.

I had always assumed that Smaug was pronounced as "smowg". I could also make a case for "smorg". But "Smog" never occurred to me either.


Martine Kcgood wrote: "I always assumed it would be pronounced "smog," as in an airborne pestilence."

So did I...


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