For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

High and dry with Hyundai, too much poo in Peugeot?

Have you ever wondered how to pronounce "Hyundai"?  This Kat has always pronounced it to rhyme with "high and dry" but without the "r" of "dry", on which basis he has modestly congratulated himself on his complete mastery of the pronunciation of Korean.  This post on the BBC however indicates that there is a good deal of variation in the "official" way that the word "Hyundai" is supposed to sound.

This Kat notes that Hyundai is not the only trade mark to induce anxiety or error with regard to its pronunciation.  Nearly 330,000 people have visited the YouTube clip of how to say "Nike" (and yes, it IS two syllables); the equivalent clip for "Peugeot", visited by over 225,000 good souls, gets a thumbs-down for being an incorrect and, worse, American version with too much "poo" and an over-emphasis on the second syllable. Not sure how to say "Bouygues"? The giant French company's own website teaches how it is pronounced in a variety of languages, generally somewhere between "Bwig" and "Bweeg".

This Kat pines for the good old days when there always used to be just definitive one way of pronouncing a mark, when people who got it wrong were betraying their consumer ignorance, and brand owners used to teach their consumers how to get it right (no schoolboy who travelled on the London Underground in the 1960s would err in his pronunciation of the slightly shocking Cockburn's port, a topic that forms the basis of that brand's marketing even today). Correct pronunciation was the first step to brand loyalty; once earned, that loyalty was not easily lost. This was also the era in which correct pronunciation, with good diction, might spare a child the indignity of corporal punishment or a school detention if he could not deliver a sufficiently precise Pschitt.

Says Merpel, given that a mark's audio impact is a vital part of its scope of protection, particularly in Europe,  where sound is one of the "holy trinity" of a mark's identity along with its visual impact and conceptual meaning, there must be a strong argument for choosing word marks that can be pronounced in the largest number of ways possible, since more marks belonging to others are likely to be confused with them at least somewhere in the European Union. She also wonders whether the fact that Nestle used to be pronounced "nestles" (as in "snuggles into", to rhyme with "vessels") in England in the historic past would be taken into account when considering likelihood of confusion with trade marks applied for today, or whether the popular British mispronunciation would be subject to the five year non-use rule.

Nine commonly mispronounced brand names here
The 17 most commonly mispronounced automotive brands here
28 most frequently mispronounced fashion and beauty words here
How many of these hard-to-pronounce brand names are you saying wrong? here

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if it is true or not but my mum used to say that the anglicised pronunciation of Braun resulted from a confusion with a certain restaurant in Oxford, the town where the company was headquartered.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -- I think that the town to which you refer must have been Oxdorf.

Ron said...

I still pronounce "Nestles" to rhyme with "vessels"! It was pronounced that way in the "Milky Bar Kid" TV adverts of the 1960's /1970's too. Their advertising used to feature a line drawing of a bird on a nest if my memory serves me correctly.

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Ron. I well recall the word "Nestles" rhyming with "vessels" in the detested Milky Bar Kid adverts. Curiously, searching YouTube for Milky Bar ads with the Milky Bar Kid Song, I find that the "Nestles" pronunciation appears to have been retrospectively "corrected" to "Nestlé". Foul play, or brilliant trade mark management?

Anonymous said...

We owned a Hyundai in the US when they first appeared on the market in the mid-1980's. The adverts pronounced it "Hun-dye", accent on the first syllable.

ron said...

I found a 1950's Australian Nestles TV advert here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SKjRiPzIU8

that uses the "vessels" pronounciation and shows a chocolate bar bearing the "bird on nest" logo. Nice to know my recollection was correct!

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