A lady from Magdala
February 3, 2010 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Pronouncing the word "Magdalene."

How does one pronounce the word "Magdalene" as in "Mary Magdalene"? I spent some time at Oxford and am aware that the word magdalen in "Magdalen College" is pronounced maudlin. Is this common pronunciation, and does it carry over?

Truth is I would like to know how one ought to pronounce the word "Magdala."
posted by phaedon to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My father, a United Church minister, and all of his associates that I can ever recall mentioning the name, pronounce it mag (as in magnum) - dah (as in Da Vinci) - len (as in lentil).

He was born, raised, and studied in southern Ontario, so there's always the chance of some sort of accent at play, but I figure theological college probably gave him a pretty solid pronunciation of the name.
posted by Shepherd at 5:16 PM on February 3, 2010

As a Catholic, growing up we pronounced it mag-duh-lin, though I've heard mag-duh-leen. According to the Merriam-Webster site, both seem to be acceptable.
posted by inturnaround at 5:18 PM on February 3, 2010

The pronunciation doesn't carry over; as far as I know it's only the college that's pronounced that way. In other contexts, MAG - duh - lin (American) or MAG - duh - len (British).
posted by Paragon at 5:19 PM on February 3, 2010

Merriam Webster gives \-ˈmag-də-lən, -ˌlēn; -ˌmag-də-ˈlē-nē\. I've only ever heard the first version. The etymology suggests that the third pronunciation is closest to the original Greek, Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή.

It gives \ˈmag-də-lə\ for Magdala.
posted by jedicus at 5:21 PM on February 3, 2010

my friend, who's name is Magdalene pronounces it as the posters above suggested Mag-duh-lin.
posted by patheral at 5:22 PM on February 3, 2010

An online dictionary. Fancy that. Thanks everyone!
posted by phaedon at 5:28 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Interestingly the Cambridge "Maudlin" college has an explanation on why its that way

posted by bitdamaged at 5:35 PM on February 3, 2010

My grandmother's name is Magdalene. People pronounce it either Mag-duh-lin or Mag-duh-leen (rhymes with Maybelline), although there seems to be a slight preference for the first. I'm not sure even she's consistent with it.
posted by dilettante at 5:35 PM on February 3, 2010

posted by defmute at 6:43 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Because of the college, whenever we feel down, my husband and I will say that we feel very "mag-da-len".
posted by jb at 8:10 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've always heard it pronounced as "Mary Mag-duh-LEEN", but conversely "the MAG-duh-lin". Don't know that that makes any sense.
posted by worldswalker at 8:32 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

My RPG character by that name, a classic drunken mech pilot, was MAG-duh-lin.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:52 PM on February 3, 2010

In the east coast of Canada, where we're privileged enough to be able to take a ferry ride to the gorgeous Magdalen Islands, we get about an even number of people who pronounce it "mag-duh-len" and "mag-duh-lene". The ferry drop is located on a popular tourist destination so the conclusion I've been got is that it's a regional thing.
posted by Hiker at 3:42 AM on February 4, 2010

FWIW, the college in Oxford is Maudlin, the bridge is Maudlin, but the street off Broad is most definitely pronounced Mag-da-lin. Unless my workmates were screwing with me (which is taking the piss).
posted by fatllama at 6:33 AM on February 4, 2010

Also found this article in the Oxford Mail.
posted by phaedon at 12:32 PM on February 4, 2010

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