4

For out-of-universe English speakers, what would be the correct pronunciation of "Accio"?

Has J.K. Rowling ever been heard to say it or commented on the correct phonetic pronunciation?

The question arises because at least three, possibly authoritative sources indicate three different pronunciations.

1) Stephen Fry — Narrator UK (audio book): ax-see-o

2) Jim Dale — Narrator US (audio book): ass-see-o

3) Films — (example: Harry in Goblet of Fire): ack-e-o

  • 10
    [Latin nerds argue until the death of the sun] – MissMonicaE Jul 30 '18 at 16:39
  • 5
    I'd go with Stephen Fry's take on this one. See this answer who mentions he talked a lot with JKR, even if there are no sources. Also, from what I remember of my Latin classes, ax-see-o sounds about right (but those were some time ago, ahah). – Jenayah Jul 30 '18 at 16:39
  • 3
    Classical or church latin? If classical latin I'd go with the film pronunciation as c's are always hard. (see e.g. wikihow.com/Pronounce-Latin). If Church Latin atchio is probably closer (global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780190246778/student/…). – Ian Bush Jul 30 '18 at 16:54
  • 2
    @NKCampbell - JKR never corrected the films when they mispronounced Voldemort, so I don't think you can assume she'd correct them on Accio. – ibid Jul 30 '18 at 18:14
  • 2
    @MissMonicaE Latin nerds can argue all they want, but they need to remember that JKR’s spells are not Latin. They’re JKR-ish, often (though not always: Alohomora, Avada Kedavra, etc.) based on some smattering of Latin stock, but basically just made up. How a string of letters would be pronounced in Latin is pretty much irrelevant. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 30 '18 at 18:23
3

Most spells in Harry Potter are in "dog Latin," a Latinate cant of the kind that gives us real-world phrases such as hocus pocus. With this in mind, I suspect that precision in pronunciation is probably not a critical issue in using these spells; any of the standard Latin pronunciation systems would thus probably be acceptable.

Accio is a very ordinary Latin word. The classical pronunciation would have been AHK-ee-oh. Church Latin (which evolved largely in parallel with the pronunciation of Italian) would give AHX-ee-oh. Either would probably work fine.

  • I've updated the question to add the detail that this question is intended to address out of universe pronunciation. As indicated in the question, each medium pronounces it consistently differently in said medium and the spell 'works' in universe, so the question doesn't address in-universe pronunciation (ie - Wingardum Levio-sah) – NKCampbell Aug 1 '18 at 19:36
  • (ps, I'm not the downvoter, so I'm giving you an upvote since you answered prior to my clarification) – NKCampbell Aug 1 '18 at 20:27
  • 2
    The Italianate pronunciation would use the "ch" sound of "change" (held for a longer period of time, because it is a double consonant). The pronunciation with the "x" /ks/ sound of "axe" comes from the English or French traditional pronunciation, not the Italian pronunciation of Latin. – sumelic Aug 2 '18 at 2:23
  • I always read it as if the root word were "access" (which, after looking up its etymology, has a different Latin origin) - I didn't even consider that it was its own legitimate Latin word. Given that the word itself ostensibly means "summon", that's probably the best guess for how she chose it, and probably what guided the filmmakers in the pronunciation. I always hated the "AHK-ee-oh" pronunciation, but I guess I'll have to get over that now :) – Jason Aug 31 '18 at 21:13
1

In Fantastic Beasts Leta says ack-e-o and as that's the case in HP films as well, I would consider this the correct pronunciation. Both movies were supervised by JKR, if they had questions on spell pronunciations they probably would ask her (unlike audio books narrators).

  • 2
  • @Valorum Yeah, I saw that, but first: Voldemort pronunciations differs not as much as akkeo vs axseeo - maybe wizards themselves pronounce it differently, not a big deal. Can't be the case with a spell, as pronunciation is crucial here. And second: actors might not have questions about Voldemort and just pronounced it as they saw it, but accio doesn't seem obvious at all - I would ask for help there if I were an actor. – Shana Tar Nov 18 '18 at 17:53
  • 2
    I think we've seen that the movies and the books don't necessarily follow the same canon – Valorum Nov 18 '18 at 17:56
  • @Valorum Agree. But from all other evidences, repeated ackeo in the movies seems to be the best we have. Unless JKR comment on it publicly herself. I would also add that in cyrillic languages accio also transliterated as akseeo or even aktsio, but again the people who translated it probably just guessed. Film creators are the only ones who were the closest to the original source if they'd bother to ask. – Shana Tar Nov 18 '18 at 18:08
  • 2
    I'd still like to find a clip of her reading from one of her books – Valorum Nov 18 '18 at 18:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.