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Old 08-22-2018, 12:27 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Pronunciation of "Jaguar"

Alright, no more screwing around. How do you pronounce "jaguar"?

Is is true that Americans say "JAG-wahr"

and Brits says "JAG-you-are"?

T.S. Eliot, an Anglophiliac from Missouri, says, in "Whispers of Immortality"

the couched Brazilian jaguar

Which pronunciation does he intend? I think he affects the British one. Yes?
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:24 PM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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Well, I say jag-you-are and Eliot spent a lot of time in my territory.

More to the point, in that poem, only jag-you-are will scan.

Balance it, as he does, against the marmoset.

Editing in to explain that my jaguar is a dactyl, like my marmoset. I say the "ar" as a definite syllable, but not stressed. It is as if I were saying it as a part of the verb "to be" in a conversational sentence, not "Ah!" like a Romantic Poet, or "Arrr", like a pirate.

Let's ask the man who really knows the beasts:

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 08-23-2018 at 04:56 AM. Reason: as above.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:37 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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I say it more like Jag-you-uh, like this lady

Though if you're Madness then you rhyme it with "car" for obvious reasons.

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-22-2018 at 01:57 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:47 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Yep, same as Matt and the pronunciation lady.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:52 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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A lot of americans say JAG-wire, and I've always wondered why. Anybody know? Spanish speakers who live where the animals live say HAHG-wahr...

Last edited by Simon Hunt; 08-22-2018 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:12 PM
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Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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I learned to say "JAG-wahr" from Marlin Perkins on Wild Kingdom as a wee person. I didn't know why on earth my teacher pronounced it "JAG-you-are" when she read to us from Winnie the Pooh.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:12 PM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
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If it's a car we Brits pronounce it Jag.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:31 PM
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Duncan Gillies MacLaurin Duncan Gillies MacLaurin is offline
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JAG-you're rather than JAG-you-are. Two syllables, not three.

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Old 08-22-2018, 03:55 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I prefer Jag-you-are, as like "Cad-you-are" from Kiss Me Kate.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:01 PM
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Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
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That's normal for word-endings beginning with u (often Latin endings such as -uous, -ual, -uent, -uit, etc), just as it is with those beginning with "i", often taking a "y" sound.

conduit = cond"wit", cond"you"it, con"do"it
casual = cas"you"al, cas"w"al.
contiguous - contig"you"ous, contig"w"ous

Some may stick to a pronunciation because it is more common in their area, but ultimately it is optional.

In earlier poetry, usually the only way such a word fits the pattern correctly is by going by the shorter consonantal pronunciation, not the longer vocalic one. It makes sense to go for the shorter pronunciation, as you can fit more in your meter if you use up less space with unnecessary syllables.

"And add perpetual tenor to my rhymes"" (Dryden's translation of Metamorphosis)


"With patriot sorrows swelling at his breast,
He sank upon a jaguar's hide to rest."

(William Lisle Bowles' The Missionary)

William Lisle Bowles was British, but is clearly using a two syllable pronunciation of "jaguar" in the above lines.

This is the approach I generally follow, not just in poetry but in everyday speech. Why waste breath pronouncing a word a longer way, when a shorter way is available?


Last edited by Kevin Rainbow; 08-22-2018 at 05:17 PM.
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