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What's the phonetic alphabet (text/pronunciation) of the fictional word Goa'uld from the (TV show)/(fictional universe) Stargate?

It seems to have a interestingly and unusually large amount of distinct sounds, perhaps as many as to be similar to "gah-augh-ouwld".

  • Related answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/64752/31178 Multiple pronunciations are common in SG. – user31178 Sep 27 '15 at 1:23
  • It's simple: you learn Hungarian, and then pronounce it as if it were a Hungarian word (ignoring the apostrophe). Wait, what do you mean learning Hungarian isn't simple? I've spoken it since I was 2 years old, it can't be that hard... – Martha Feb 26 '16 at 0:28
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I'm not a phonetician1, so this is going to be a very amateurish answer from a phonetics perspective.

Different characters on the show typically used one of two pronunciations2:

  1. go-aah-oold, typically used by the System Lords, Tok'ra, Jaffa, and nerds like Daniel Jackson

  2. goo-ld, typically used by other military characters, like Jack O'Neill and General Hammond

Just based on who typically uses the different pronunciations, I'm inclined to suggest that go-aah-oold is the correct one; always trust a people when they use their own name for themselves.

Dan Castellaneta's character, the eponymous "Citizen Joe", also feels quite strongly about the pronunciation:

Wikipedia user Puellanivis suggests the proper IPA rendering as [ˈgoɑ.ʔuːld]:

I'll readily agree with anyone who says that the common pronunciations of "GOOLD", and "go-OOLD" is mispronouncing the word, but the pronunciation listed in IPA: [ˈgoʊ˘uːld] is not entirely accurate either. From the correct pronunciations that I have heard, the ' in fact stands for a glottal stop, which would make it consistent with Arabic transliterations. (How one would resolve this with the name "Teal'c", you got me, my best guess is that who ever was making up the names, wasn't a linguist.)

From what I hear, the most accurate pronunciation would be: [ˈgoɑ.ʔuːld].


1 Hey, I learned a new word!

2 With some allowances for regional accents. Jack, for example, is canonically from Illinois3 and played by a Minnesotan, usually pronounces it goold. Compare to General Hammond, canonically a Texan and played by a Missourian, who usually says gewld.

3 "The Fifth Man":

O'Neill: Where're you from, Tyler? Texas

Lt. Tyler: Mostly. We moved around a lot. You?

O'Neill: Born in Chicago, raised in Minnesota.

Stargate SG-1 Season 5 Episode 4: "The Fifth Man"

  • You mean you can't repair phones? – Valorum Sep 26 '15 at 19:14
  • @Richard On the contrary, I am an expert at phone repair – Jason Baker Sep 26 '15 at 19:15
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    I read that as "Phoenician" at first. – March Ho Sep 26 '15 at 23:29
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    My background is almost the exact reverse of yours: I am a phonetician, but I have never seen the series and have no idea who the Goa’uld actually are. I’ve only ever seen or thought of it as a generically alien-sounding name, and therefore one whose spelling is quite likely to represent its pronunciation quite closely. As such, I have always instincitively pronounced it [ɡoɑˈuld], which is quite close to what Puellanivis gives (only difference is I instinctively stressed the last syllable instead of the first and used a short [u] instead of a long one). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 26 '16 at 2:54
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - Interesting perspective of a non-watcher who has never heard it pronounced, especially with the short u in your mind's ear. P.s.- too bad you're not a Phoenician. A Phoenician phonetician would be pretty cool. – iMerchant Jun 9 '16 at 9:42

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