Term Pronunciation

Something I’ve noticed in my time working with systems is that the vast majority of our terms are written down 90% of the time, it’s very rare that they are verbalized. This leads to interesting divisions within our community where we develop different ways to pronounce things.

One of those that seems more common is SQL. Some people term it “sequel” while others use each letter, “S, Q, L” Which one is right seems to depend on which specific SQL implementation is being referred to. In Microsoft circles, it’s Sequel Server. The popular open-source database is considered My Ess Queue Ell.

The goal of this page is list a few of the written terms, and how I tend to pronounce them. By no means are they necessarily accurate, and it really doesn’t matter so long as whoever is listening to you understands what you are saying when you speak them out load. If you say one of them differently, drop me a comment, I’d be interested to know what it is and how you say it, and possibly why.

IRC – Eye Are See. When I was in high school, I had a friend who would say it as “urk”, and his client of choice was “murk.” It took me a while to realize what he was saying, but for me it’s always been an acronym, I, R, C.

SQL – Depends how I feel, but usually again, S, Q, L. If I’m having a conversation with someone, it may vary based on what they call it just to reduce confusion. This one I’m flexible on.

/var – The name stems from the word “variable” as the contents of this directory are subject to change regularly, things like /var/log and /var/spool, but how I say it usually rhymes with “bar,” “far” or “car.” I guess it should possibly be said closer to “there” as in “there-ee-ah-bull” but I don’t care. (If we’re going by that rule, “lib” should be said as “lyb”, since it’s short for “libraries” – most people call it “lib” to rhyme with “bib” or “fib”)

/etc – This gets referred to by different names also. Some people around here call it “etsy” others call it “E, T, C”, I usually skip the debate entirely. When I do have to pronounce it, it tends to be as “etcetera” as it’s how you usually pronounce things that are written as “etc”

eth0 – The rarely spoken name of the primary network interface on common Linux, and some other Unix-based systems. My verbalization of this comes from my pronunciation of what it’s short for, ethernet or “ee-ther-net.” That said, I tend to say it as “eeeth”, to sound similar to “beef” (without the b). Others I’ve heard recently say it as “eth” to rhyme with “Beth.” I guess I just contradicted my rule on saying things based on how they look, rather than what they’re short for!

Linux – This is pretty well standard now, “linnix” is the common. When first introduced, however, it tended to be said more in line with the name of it’s creator, Linus (Ly-niss), we would say it “lie-nicks” or “lie-nucks”

Those are the ones I can think of, there may be an update to this post, or perhaps a SQL in the future.

I do want to see your comments, however, what are some tech/IT terms you see written down all the time but hear pronounced differently from time to time?

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