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J.K. Rowling has gone on record a few times that she pronounces Voldemort with a silent T, so like vol-de-more.

Are there any hints in the book that basically the entire English-speaking world is mispronouncing He-who-must-not-be-named's name? The original audio books read by Jim Dale, he pronounced it with a silent T, and then changed to saying the T after the first movie, which annoyed audio book fans.

Did J.K. Rowling tell Jim Dale how it should be pronounced with a silent T? Did the movies know the J.K. Rowling way of saying it, but went with the vastly more popular pronounced T?

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    See, this is really why no one wanted to name him, everyone gets it wrong. Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 17:18
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    You mean, "the entire world except all French-speaking countries".
    – Stef
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 15:03
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    I guess Voldemort saying "Harry, before I kill you, there is something you need to know - the T is silent!" might not build his evil wizard cred. Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 15:07
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    This one isn't as annoying to me as one that goes the other way: in the movies "Pensieve" is pronounced as if it were French, thus destroying the pun on "pensive" (and maybe on "sieve", if you think of a Pensieve as a tool for sifting out what's valuable from your memories). Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 17:31
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    In-book clues? Would it have to look something like: "Bellatrix", he whispered, and the hiss hung in the air. "Voldemort", she cooed breathlessly back, letting the roll of the "r" linger before fading into silence....
    – Zayn
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 19:15

1 Answer 1

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It's because most Americans don't speak French:

In an exchange with a fan on Twitter, author JK Rowling confirmed that the 't' in Voldemort is actually silent, contrary to its pronunciation in the movies. It seems that the rogue 't' crept into the Dark Lord's name after the first movie, and was then repeated in the US audiobooks by voice actor Jim Dale.

However, not everybody was scandalised by the news. French aficionados of the child wizard saga added that they'd been pronouncing it correctly all along, highlighting that "Voldemort" means "flight of death" in their native tongue.

The Rowling tweet referenced in the article is here.

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    Some relevant cultural context is that French is widely taught in schools in the UK, so it's reasonable for Rowling to assume her readers would spot the French spelling. I've encountered the opposite with the use of Spanish in fiction from the USA.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 17:12
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    @FreeMan Perhaps "the reverse" or "the flipside" would be a better choice of words: when I see Spanish names or phrases in American fiction, I often get the feeling that the author assumes I'll know not just how to pronounce them but what they mean. Jokes and references go straight over my head. My guess was that American readers might have the same experience on seeing "Voldemort".
    – IMSoP
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 20:06
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    That article seems a bit bold; it wasn't a "rogue 't' that crept in"... it was put there by the author herself. Where in the books is it ever mentioned he adopted a French origin or pronunciation of his pseudonym? He's British and basically the entire story takes place in the UK. Seems like a low-quality retcon to me.
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 15:39
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    @TylerH I'm assuming that is partly adressed by IMSoP's comment about "French is widely taught in schools in the UK", although I see your point too. I like the idea of assuming that it should be pronounced like a French sentence.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 15:57
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    When I read the books, as a 12 year old, I picked up on the intend French pronunciation despite barely knowing any French. It is very easy for me to assume that the majority of readers from my country would have picked up on it, too. Similarly, a character called De la Cruz or Von Kreuz would be assumed to not follow typical English pronunciation. Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 0:54

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