How do you pronounce "Eccyclema"?
August 23, 2007 12:50 PM   Subscribe

How do you pronounce "Eccyclema"? Are there variations?
posted by Julia F***ing Sugarbaker to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My answer is not authoritative but I am usually good at guessing these things. I'd go with: EK-se-KLEE-ma. I'm sure an official answer will be coming down the pipe.
posted by chef_boyardee at 1:21 PM on August 23, 2007

I'd say "eck-SY-klem-uh"
posted by rhizome at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2007

In the ancient Greek it would have been ekkyklema and given that it's purely an ancient usage it may not have been anglicised. So it might be hard c's and a long e (eh) - see here for a pronunciation (direct link to WAV file, although this is a dictionary of classical terms so goes for the ancient pronunciation - the issue is whether it's changed).
posted by greycap at 2:24 PM on August 23, 2007

As a Classics student, I've said "ek-KOOK-lay-muh." Hard c, and pronouncing the y as a masquerading upsilon (i.e. u).
posted by Bromius at 2:34 PM on August 23, 2007

Guessing on pronunciation is perhaps not a good idea.

I just searched the online Oxford English Dictionary and it doesn't list the word, but the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary does list it - behind a paywall; there might be a pronunciation there, if anyone's got access to it.

*keeps hunting for an actual source*
posted by mdonley at 3:05 PM on August 23, 2007

OK - a little more digging:

Eccyclema isn't in the OED, but ekkyklema is in the Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, which seems to imply (I'm no lexicographer...) that it could (there's no pronunciation indicated) be pronounced as it would have been in greycap's .wav file.
posted by mdonley at 3:17 PM on August 23, 2007

Also spelled 'ekkyklema', according to some sites, as noted by mdonley. "Hear it" here. Sounds like 'eck ee CLAY ma'.
posted by namret at 3:26 PM on August 23, 2007

For those who are wondering what the hell this word means, here's what the online Britannica library edition says (unfortunately without pronounciation guide):
(Greek Ekkyklema, also called Exostra)

In classical Greek theatre, stage mechanism consisting of a low platform that rolled on wheels or revolved on an axis and could be pushed onstage to reveal an interior or some offstage scene such as a tableau. It was introduced to the Attic stage in the 5th century to provide directors a means for clarifying the action. Because violence was prohibited from the Greek stage, it is thought by some that murdered bodies may have been displayed on the device.

The eccyclema was used mainly in tragedy but was occasionally employed in comedy. In the Acharnians by Aristophanes, for example, a character representing the playwright Euripides is reluctant to leave his house until Dicaeopolis, who wants to borrow a costume, brings him the “scene shifter” to wheel him onstage surrounded by costumes. After violence was no longer proscribed onstage, the eccyclema still served as a scene-shifting device, eventually giving rise to modern turntables and other revolving stage mechanisms.

posted by rob511 at 3:40 PM on August 23, 2007

Hmm interesting word, I see it's also spelt ekkuklema.
posted by tellurian at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2007

The u/y variation is because the original Greek is spelled with an upsilon - denoted by the character u but fulfilling a function somewhere between a y and a u. But it tends to get transliterated to y.
posted by greycap at 11:20 PM on August 23, 2007

I preface all this with the statement that if there's an accepted pronunciation among those who actually use the term in speech (the farflung and powerful community of historians of ancient theater), that's the "correct" pronunciation in today's English-speaking world. Otherwise:

The ancient pronunciation would have been ek-KÜK-leh-mah, where the second syllable had high pitch and the eh vowel in the third syllable was long (drawn out noticeably longer than the other vowels). The u/y vowel, Greek upsilon, started out as a normal u vowel (oo as in boot), but by (approximately) the 7th century BCE it had gotten pushed forward (by various other changes in the vowel system) so that it sounded like the u of French or the ü of German.

By the Byzantine period the ancient pitch accent had been converted to the kind of stress accent we're all familiar with (just hit the syllable harder), the double consonant was simplified, and both the long e in the third syllable and (later) the upsilon had become i (ee as in feed), producing the Modern Greek eh-KEEK-lee-mah. But that's pretty much irrelevant unless you're a Modern Greek or wish to communicate with them. (One odd fact about Modern Greeks is that they refuse to admit the pronunciation of Greek has changed in the last few thousand years; they will swear to you that Sophocles pronounced it just like they do.)

Now this was Latinized as eccyclema (pronounced by the Romans ek-kih-KLAY-mah, as in namret's audio file, because Latin had a stress accent and the long vowel in the third syllable attracted the stress) and this, in the normal course of events, would have been Anglicized as ek-sih-KLEE-muh (as in chef_boyardee's guess). And checking with Webster's Third International, I see that is indeed the accepted pronunciation: give chef_boyardee a gold star!
posted by languagehat at 12:37 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

As ever, I bow down before languagehat's knowledge. The fact that the OED failed me in answering this but languagehat has trumped the OED says rather a lot...
posted by greycap at 4:12 PM on August 24, 2007

The word is pronounced here. ( Word Tutor)

For people without sound: apparently it's pronounced as EK-se-KLEE-ma.
posted by lioness at 8:15 AM on August 25, 2007

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