Pronouncing Web 2.0

I’ve just returned from England, where the weather was wonderful, the fish and chips crisp, the Hendrick’s gin cucumber-y, the food surprisingly delightful, the hand-drawn ales appropriately lukewarm, and the meeting I attended engaging.

Among other things on the trip, I’ve noticed that the Brits have a tendency to say “web two” as opposed to the American (dare I say original) “web two dot oh” (or alternatively, “web two point oh”). I believe, last I was in France, that they do the same thing en disant “web deux” et pas “web deux point zero.”

But with an American accent, saying “I’m hip; I ‘get’ web two” is antithetical. (Dude, you can’t even pronounce it!) Whereas, with a British accent, it’s fine. (One can only pity the ex-pat American who learns web-speak across the pond.)

Other than precluding a minor release of the new web (e.g., Web 2.1), it’s simply a local pronunciation difference. But it nevertheless reminded me of the numerous verbal hints that tip off either (1) one’s degree or hip-ness in the tech community or (2) simply where you’re from.

For example,

• The Brits said “kicks” and not C-I-C-S when referring to the grand-daddy of transaction monitors. Americans were split down the middle on this one.

• Saying S-Q-L instead of “sequel” used to be popular everywhere, but now people just say sequel. In addition, much to Microsoft’s presumed delight, they also increasingly just say “sequel” when they mean “sequel server,” referring to the generically named SQL Server DBMS.

• I’ve never heard “my S-Q-L” when speaking of to the open source MySQL (my-sequel).

• It’s definitely B-I for business intelligence and not “bi”.

• Never, when speaking of Business Objects, should one use the dreaded abbreviation B-O, as they call the company in France (which regrettably stands for “body odor” in America).

• It’s most definitely B-E-A and not “be-ah” for the large middleware firm, BEA.

• However, most Americans pronounce SAP as S-A-P, while Europeans usually say “sap”.

• But always E-R-P and never “erp”.

• In the “web two dot oh” vowel omission department, Flickr and Scribd are pronounced flicker and scribed, not “flick-R” and “scribbed”

What fun. If you’ve got examples, of either fun antithetical tech statements or simply, fun local pronunciation differences and/or asymmetries like those above, I’d love to hear them.

3 responses to “Pronouncing Web 2.0

  1. My comments as a German speaker:- In Germany, “S-Q-L” ist much more popluar than “Sequel”.- I’ve never heard of MySQL being called “My-Sequel”, always “My-S-Q-L”.- For SAP, it is mixed S-A-P and “Sap” (rhymes with “cup”)- For BEA, I’d say “Be-ah”, but maybe that’s just me. (With German pronounciation, that is with a kind of ‘e’ that doesn’t exist in English. I guess, a long version of the sound like in “get” might come closest)

  2. SaaS is certainly becoming more popular instead of “software-as-a-service”. This could be good or bad for SAS not “S eh S”. (Btw, anybody know what SAS – not the airline or the elite fighting force – actually stands for?)Most people tend to refer to salesforce.com as just Salesforce – not SFDC or “salesforce dot com”As for BO vs. BOBJ, I now realize that it’s really only the employees that call it “Bob-jay”, or even “Business Objects”, while the rest of the world tends to go with BO. Sorry Dave, I tried!

  3. Your post brings to mind my favorite British programming expression. When a program “crashes” in the U.K. it “fell over” as in “There was a SQL syntax error and the program fell over.” Much more gentle, don’t you think?

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