No “I” in “VIOLA”

For our English-speaking readers….

The following train of thought arose during a breakfast table debate about the proper pronunciation of “VIOLA” in English: Why, if similar-looking words like VIOLIN and VIOLENCE are pronounced with an “EYE” (“I”), would the viola be pronounced “vee-ohla”? Well as we all know, English isn’t particularly excelling in consistency with such matters, so the argument “just because” is as good as any you’ll get served up in advanced English class. But there is at least one other reasoning which, while no more logical than the others, at least has the advantage of carrying a certain colloquial punch. It goes like this:


The more you think about it, the more truth it seems to carry, right?
It is such a charming find, because it provokingly negates the superficial fact of spelling, while at the same time proposing/reinforcing the standard pronunciation.

And of course, no violist (we’ve got to stick to “veye-ohlist” though) will fail to notice how there’s a not-so-subtle lash here to rub at the inferiority complex of our E-stringed little brethren (whose instrument name even has TWO of those letters).

So if you ever heard the expression There’s no “I” in “TEAM”…