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How to pronounce Don Quixote?


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Hello UK Ballet fans, I was watching a great interview with Rudolph Nureyev a while ago, all parts on youtube and he is very charming in it. However in the 4th part (link below) (2 seconds in) an English Gentleman pronounces Don Quixote as "Don Kwik-sott" is this usual in the UK? From my understanding it is more "Don key shot"

 

 

I apologise if this is irrelevant, but it has been a real bug to me. Also you can see a great interview.

 

Many thanks

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In English English it is often 'Don Kwiksot'.  Among ballet fans it is often 'Don Q'.  In France it would be 'Don Quichotte'.  Sometimes it is the Spanish style 'Don Key-ho-tay'.  Take your pick!!!

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I always say Don -key- ho -Tay myself ......especially as I'm learning Spanish ......but always did say it this way anyway. or .....just Don Q when among ballet friends.

"Quixotte" (quicksott) is the literal way of using the English "x"

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I've heard the 'Don Quicksott' pronunciation on the BBC whether referring to the book or the ballet.  You can usually rely on the Beeb for the accepted way to pronounce any foreign names.  (That's how I learnt to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, anyway!)

 

Linda

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It is strange that while the French are comfortable with their pronunciation of the character's name and would almost certainly find it affected to pronounce it in the Spanish manner the staff at the ROH cannot bring themselves  to utter the name in anything other than the Spanish manner. I suppose it is something to do with signalling that the Opera House is a sophisticated international organisation. Perhaps it is so international and sophisticated that the staff are unaware that the standard English pronunciation of the good Don's name is Quicksott.

 

Royal Opera House staff use the Spanish pronunciation when they make announcements but then the corporate approach  there is rather affected. The House Style Book clearly tells everyone to use Latinate polysyllabic words whenever possible rather than one with a Germanic root.. Could it be because Germanic words are too plain and don't sound grand enough within the hallowed portals of the Royal Opera House?This affectation means that when it is only five or ten minutes before curtain up they can't bring themselves to tell you that the performance will begin in ten minutes they have to tell you that it will commence in ten minutes.

 

Then as an international opera house they can't bring themselves to acknowledge that the names of many operas have well known English equivalents. That sort of thing is alright down the road at the Coli but not at the Royal Opera House. Recently there were performances of La Scala di Seta  in the LInbury. Someone I know made an enquiry about the availability of tickets calling the opera The Silken Ladder the box office staff did not answer her question at once but  did correct her by saying "La Scala di Seta".

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I don't consider it an affectation to pronounce the title of one of the most famous novels in European Literature the way it should be pronounced, how do cope with Hugo's Les Miserables?

 

The ROH has a house policy of singing operas in the original Languages, so surely it's logical that should include the titles of the works as well.  At the Coli they sing in English so L'incoronazione di Poppea for example becomes The Coronation of Poppea, all pretty straight forward as far as I'm concerned.

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I don't consider it an affectation to pronounce the title of one of the most famous novels in European Literature the way it should be pronounced

 

-ish - suitably anglicised :)  Now I think of it, the Spanish has a longer "i" and a shorter "o" than the "Spanglish" version.  The only reason I can see for pronouncing it as donkey-shot is if it's written Don Quichotte.

 

Although we do of course also have the adjective "quixotic", where it is pronounced to rhyme more or less with "exotic".

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Nothing really to do with the Don Q pronunciation, but Floss' comment on the idiosyncratic approach by ROH staff to appropriate pronunciation reminded me of the paroxysms they got into when Thomas' opera Hamlet came into the rep about 15 years ago. They all pronounced the composer's name in the French way, but the title came over in English by some, without the "H" by others  and with the latter group some further dispensed with the "t" while others emphasised the final "t"

 

Quite a melange.

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Surely it is because the work was printed and published at a relatively early stage in the European wide development of secular literature in the sixteenth century that it became a cornerstone in every European linguistic literary tradition with every country having its own pronunciation of the hero's name? The literate population in each country were beginning to use their local languages in preference to Latin and were creating new literary forms and coining new words at an incredible rate. "Quixotic" is not a recent addition to our vocabulary.The pronunciation of the word retains the original and correct pronunciation of the Don's name in English.However in order to avoid much debate and controversy over my use of my mother tongue I always call the ballet Don Q. It's so much simpler than being required to use the Spanish pronunciation of the name of the greatest European chivalrous adventurer whose exploits are preserved and savoured in colloquial phrases across Europe.

 

I trust that you will not accuse me of tilting at windmills by posting this.

Edited by FLOSS
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  • 2 weeks later...

Perhaps the spanish pronunciation has crept in because more people learn to speak Spanish now?? Just a thought!

 

And in recent years there does seem to be a move to wards pronouncing foreign words and especially peoples names in the way they would in the country of origin.

Quite a few years ago now i worked with a lovely chinese lady who had an extremely difficult name to pronounce though everybody tried but in the end she decided to call herself Snow (just an equivalent of a small part of her name) and it stuck. It suited her perfectly as "snow" matched her particular human qualities really well!

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  • 2 years later...

I'm a bit curious about the final "tay" various people have suggested - I know it's correct in Spanish, but I'd thought that centuries of familiarity had softened it to a "tee" in an English language context (similar to how we talk about Paris not "Paree").  Certainly the Hispanists I knew at university used the more anglicised form.

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Off the point but this weekend's local Palm Sunday reading of the Gospel featured repeated references to someone called Pontius PeeLatte (as in "doing pilates"). The congregation tried to keep a straight face but then some people started giggling so that was it, all over, end of solemn liturgy.

 

Since then I have wondered whether this may in fact be some kind of authentic / academic / ancient Roman pronunciation.

 

Edited by Geoff
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Oh dear! I did have to read the one-line part of Pilates Wife (that's how it appeared in the order of service, without the apostrophe) for a Palm Sunday reading in a previous year.  It gave me a mental image I was not anticipating.

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