You may have had the same experience as I when hearing people say vice versa. Some pronounce it as vice (rhyming with rice) verse-ah, while others say vice-ah verse-ah. I decided to find the correct pronunciation (if there is one) and as is often the case, they’re both considered correct. The wikipedia entry states that the literal Latin translation is “with position turned”, making the phrase mean “the other way around” or “conversely.” It also says that historically, vice is more properly pronounced as two syllables, but the one-syllable pronunciation is extremely common.
Even though the audio pronunciation (there’s only one) says it with two ahs, I prefer the single ah variation. It sounds less pretentious and I already get enough grief for pronouncing aunt so that it rhymes with haunt, gaunt, taunt, flaunt, jaunt and daunt.
I’m guessing part of the problem comes from pronouncing it in a non-latin language (English). Take Spanish and it would be naturally pronounced (vee-say vair-sah) and French (I think – I’m not a French speaker) would be more of a (vee-suh vair-sah). Either way, it’s closer.
Yeah, I thought about mentioning that it’s similar to pronouncing croissant with the French accent or just saying crescent.
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The four-syllable pronunciation seems to me like one of those popular mispronuciations that becomes accepted by sheer volume of usage, not for any linguistic reason (although I don’t know about its original Latin roots). My guess is that people just like the sing-songy-ness of vi-suh ver-suh, and so it gets used and passed along to others, and then someone puts it in a dictionary or something, but to take the words at their face value, how many of us pronounce “vice” as vi-suh?
I think I’ve honestly never considered this a pronunciation quandry, and maybe heard people use it, but assumed they were just being silly. But some pronunciation questions endure: ahnt/ant as you mentioned, and I took ribbing in Utah for root/rowt (like Route 66).
The pronunciation of route actually makes sense as rowt, even though I used to pronounce it as root, so I’ve switched.
Technically, it’s Latin so the C would be a K –
@Lauren Interesting, I didn’t know that.
What happened to proper Latin pronunciation? Shouldn’t it be “WEE-KAY WEAR-SUH”?
As to Latin pronunciation, in the phrase, “Veni, vidi, vici,” the word “vici” is pronounced “vee-chee.” So it would seem that the Latin pronunciation for “vice versa” would be “vee-chay vehr-sah.” But as for me? I will continue to pronounce it as “vais vehr-sah” or I will find another appropriate phrase.
In latin ‘C’ after ‘I’ is not pronounced as ‘K’ but like ‘TS’ – like in ” Veni, vidi, vici.” I think ‘vee-chee’ is modern Italian pronunciation. Personal opinion: if you are using Latin- say it in Latin, otherwise just say – other way around.
I disagree: how else would I appear smart to others?
Unless you’re going to use the actual Latin pronunciation, which would be “WEE-kay wear-SAAAH” (note the length of the final vowel), and risk coming off as pretentious, I’d say just pronouncing it like any other English word (i.e. pronouncing “vice” as the English word vice) is the best. If you make it “VAIS-uh VERS-uh” it sounds like you’re mispronouncing the Latin, as with if you used the Italian-like “cha.”
The Latin would be ‘WEE-chay WER-sah’
I don’t see any issue with moderninzing the ‘w’ sound to a ‘v’, and ‘ch’ to ‘s’, while at the same time retaining ‘vice’ as two syllables: VI-sah VER-sah. And, as many sources indicate, this is commonly done and commonly considered to be correct.
The term “vice versa,” pronounced with the first part of the term, “vice,” rhyming with the term “rice,” is the Americanization of the term.
American English has developed over a period 250 years. For 250 years American English has been polished against every language in the world, polished against world literature in translation, polished against older forms of English, and ancient languages. American English has launched poets, astronauts and lyricists to the moon. I love American English. I gush with enthusiasm for American English.