Monophthongs, Diphthongs, And Firearm Terminology…

Monophthongs, Diphthongs, And Firearm Terminology


My daughters, like most of their contemporaries, are avid Harry Potter fans. At one time the English edition was published in advance of the United States edition. Before the practice stopped I ordered English editions which arrived on our doorstep about a week ahead of the US release, giving my girls great status among their circle of friends.

The first volume of J.K. Rowling’s immensely successful series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because a common language separates the two nations. It is not unusual for British books to have different titles in the United States as some words of the King’s English do not translate well to American English. For example, I am a big fan of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels the first of which was titled The Happy Return in England and Beat to Quarters in the United States.

That being said, I took the girls to see the film version of the book and was forced to stand in a long line with them, and their costumed contemporaries, at the local theater. I enjoyed the movie and was transported to the more familiar world of shooting by a scene in which Herminie Granger corrects Ron Weasley’s pronunciation of a word in an incantation “It’s Wingardium LevioSA, not LevioSAR.”

I was taken back to Camp Perry where new tower talker at Perry, unfamiliar with the smallbore discipline, announced the third match of the day, calling us to the line to shoot the “De War Match.”  We cringed at the phonetical mangling of Dewar which is correctly pronounced “Dew-Er.”

That brought up memories of new shooters trying to buy ammunition on Commercial Row. They might ask for Eli when they meant Eley. My shooting crony Kevin Nevius shoots for Team Lapua, commonly called La-Pu-Ah when its correct Finnish pronunciation is La-Pwa. We never had pronunciationproblems with domestic Winchester, Remington, Federal, or CCI. In retrospect no matter what the match ammunition’s name it is it can always be pronounced at X-Pen-Sive.

What of the carbine? It was originally a lighter, shortened rifle developed for the cavalry. The name apparently derives from its first users, French cavalry troopers called carabiniers. The most famous of these short rifles are the Spencer Carbine, the Germanshortened version of the Kar 98 the Karabiner 98k, the British modification of SMLE, the Rifle, No. 5 Mk I, “Jungle Carbine”, and the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1.

But, how is it pronounced? Is it Car-Bean or Car-Bine? It appears that the sociolinguistics experts come down on the side of the former.

Then what of the United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1’s big brother, the U.S. Rifle, Caliber 30, M1? It was the first general issue semiautomatic military rifle to be fielded giving the World War II United States Army and Marine Corps infantrymen a distinct advantage over the bolt rifle wielding members of the Wehrmacht and the Dai-Nippon Teikoku Rikugun.

Development of the M1 began at the Springfield Armory in 1927 when a French Canadian born US arms designer began work on a primer actuated blowback semiautomatic rifle. It finally saw adoption in 1937. By the end of production, 20 years later, some 5.4 million had been manufactured. The rifle quickly took on the surname name of its inventor, St. Jean le BaptisteCantius Garand.

But what is the correct pronunciation of Garand? No one really cared until the Civilian Marksmanship Program opened sales of surplus M1s and ammunition to the masses. Among the Cosmoline encrusted customers of the CMP M1 sales program the pronunciation question took on a status well out of proportion to its importance.

Bunkered down with their rarely, if ever, fired annual purchasesof 12 rifles and cached cases of Lake City or HPX .30-06 ammunition the correct pronunciation of the inventor’s name became yet another way to establish caste. Having a fanciful Garand related handle on the CMP Forum, at least a four-figure number of posts, a low numbered CMP Customer number, membership in the Garand Collectors Association-all vaingloriously noted at the bottom of one’s post, along with boasting of being able to pronounce Garand properly helped establish one as a Brahmin in the Celestial Cosmoline Cosmos.

As youngster I heard about the Grand Rifle and about the Garand Rifle. I soon learned that the most commonly acceptedpronunciation was the second, Guh-Rand. It turns out that the inventor pronounced his name differently. Garand was born in St. Rémi, Quebec, Canada, but, lived there less than two years. He was just beginning to walk and talk when his family moved to the insular little borough of Jewett City, Connecticut, where he grew up. The insolated little hamlet had a dialect all its ownand it’s likely that, sandwiched between a Québécois lilt and a Yankee twang, he learned how to pronounce his name.

The answer to the pronunciation conundrum lies at the bottom of the first page of General Julian Hatcher’s seminal work, The Book of the Garand. Its first footnote appears at the 25th word and states that the name was, “Pronounced with G as in go, and the stress on the first syllable, to rhyme with parent (except the final sound is d instead of t) by the inventor.” I, for one, am not going to argue with an authority the stature of Hatcher.

With the French influence on the word carbine and Garand’s French-Canadian heritage perhaps the musical My Fair Lady’s Professor Henry Higgins, sums it all up best when he sings, “In France every Frenchman knows his language from A to Zed. The French don’t care what they do, actually, if they pronounce it properly.”

About Hap Rocketto

Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. He was the 2002 Intermediate Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion, the 2012 Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion a member of the 2007 and 2012 National Four Position Indoor Championship team, coach and captain of the US Drew Cup Team, and adjutant of the United States 2009 Roberts and 2013 Pershing Teams. Rocketto is very active in coaching juniors. He is, along with his brother Steve, a cofounder of the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s website, and most recently, the apogee of his literary career,
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1 Response to Monophthongs, Diphthongs, And Firearm Terminology…

  1. Ted Janacek says:

    Hap, thanks for “Garand” article! Ted J

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