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Throughout The Fifth Element there are several mentions of the guardian race known as the Mondoshawans.

Or rather, not known as the Mondoshawans. Written as the Mondoshawans in all the different sources that talk about them. Because every time their name is said, it is quite clearly pronounced /mɒndoʊˡtʃiːwən/ (even by Leeloo when she’s speaking in the Divine Language)—that is, something you would expect to be represented in English orthography as Mondocheewan or something like that.

All instances of written English on Earth in the movie seem to follow normal, 20th-century orthography, so a priori you'd expect this to be the same.

The name is clearly a loan word in English, borrowed from the Divine Language, and as such you would expect it to be adapted to English orthography, or alternatively to follow orthographic quirks of the source language.

It is of course entirely possible that Mondocheewan represents a dialectal sound change in the Divine Language as spoken by the Mondoshawans (/ʃa/ > /tʃiː/) which was not reflected in the original orthography. But there is no hint of any such thing within the movie, and it seems rather far-fetched to have to go to such lengths of conjecture for a word that happens to be mentioned sort of in passing a few times in the movie.

So I am assuming here that the reason for the mismatch between spelling and pronunciation lies outside the movie itself, out-of-universe. That doesn't help me much, though, ’cause I can't find any indications, interviews, or other hints as to why the writers (or whoever it was) would choose such an unintuitive spelling out of universe either.

Is there a known explanation for why this race is pronounced /mɒndoʊˡtʃiːwən/ but written Mondoshawan (in or out of universe)?

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    Interestingly, in all of the Making Of documentaries, they're always referred to as "Mondoshawans", not "*Mondocheewans".; youtube.com/watch?v=BnYUao7xP6s / youtube.com/watch?v=ZYUzlrIftNQ / youtube.com/watch?v=lgi7JeDpwxM – Valorum Mar 18 '17 at 0:41
  • @Valorum Now that is interesting! The thot plickens. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 18 '17 at 0:43
  • I always thought it sounded like they were saying "Mondoshawan" the same as it's spelt. It has been a while since I watched the movie, but I don't recall ever noticing this "mispronunciation." – Steve-O Mar 18 '17 at 4:07
  • @Steve-O I can’t seem to find a snippet where they say the name now, but this is something I’ve been noticing ever since I first saw the film nearly 20 years ago. It was on TV last night, which re-kindled my interest, and I listened quite closely to be sure—they do quite clearly say /tʃiː/, not /ʃa/. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 18 '17 at 9:16
  • 1
    You can hear the "mispronunciation" at 00:20 in this clip, which I was looking for while researching another question. – Cascabel Oct 29 '19 at 15:25

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