Tip #3 for Ubuntu Evangelists (and Advocates)

In our last episodes, Tip #1, Tip #2, I encouraged you to use Ubuntu yourself, every day. I also encouraged you to drop the computer history lessons.

Now, it's time for the next tip:

Ubuntu AdvocateUbuntu Advocate

Tip #3: Pronounce "Ubuntu" correctly.

It's pronounced “Oo-boon-too”. This might sound like something trivial or pedantic, but please recognize that when you mispronounce a word, your credibility may be immediately called into question. A quick Google search for the correct pronunciation and a few minutes of practice is all it takes.

Over the coming days I'll be sharing more of my tips for Ubuntu advocates. Things I've learned the hard way by trying things myself, failing, re-thinking, and then trying again. Please stay tuned for Tip #4 tomorrow.


Are you an Advocate? Please check out the brand new Advocacy Kit:

An aside: Astute readers might look for Tip #1 dated Dec. 20th on Planet Ubuntu and won't find it. Don't fret. I've noticed its mysterious disappearance too, and I'm about as impressed as you are about our cowardly censor.

"Ubuntu Advocate" image (CC BY-NC 2.0) by John Royer. http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnroyer/4907112377/sizes/z/in/photostream/


Don't take my word for it. Another blogger weighs in:


I agree entirely! I can appreciate that it doesn't roll off an english speakers tongue gracefully at first. But with practice it's much smoother.

Some of the truly awful mispronunciations can be found from YouTube videos produced by enthusiastic users! Go figure?


How do you pronounce "Nike", "Nokia" or "Jolla" or maybe "Birmingham", "Leicester" or "Worcestershire"? I bet you pronounce at least one "incorrectly" thus your credibility is now called into question! Fact is different people pronounce things differently. Especially those from different countries with non-English languages and other dialects. The critical thing to do is convey your message, not brow-beat people into saying words in a prescriptive way.

Telling people to pronounce Ubuntu "correctly" _is_ pedantic, and _is_ trivial. It's the kind of thing obsessive compulsive geeks do to show their superior knowledge and it should be stamped out.

For the record people in the west of the Atlantic tend to pronounce "Nike" like "Mikey" whereas people on the east of the Atlantic often pronounce it like "Bike". Neither is right, or wrong, they're just different. Embrace the difference.


Alan, you're confusing the way things are pronounced colloquially (or regionally) with the way they are pronounced by native speakers in original form. In the case of Ubuntu, there are many good examples: Mandela, Tutu, and others all saying Oo-boon-too. I'm happy to pronounce it that way, and I am encouraging everyone to try.

As for the other example words you cite, I can likely pronounce them pretty close to their original intent. That's not me being pedantic or trivial, showing-off, or even OCD or a geek as you (impolitely) suggest. It's a show of respect.

If you learn a foreign language (e.g. Japanese, Chinese) do you insist on pronouncing their words in the manner that is convenient/easy to you? You won't be looked upon in a positive light. Comically maybe.

Here in Vancouver there are language schools dedicated to accent reduction for non-native English speakers. People come here to learn language and to pronounce the words correctly. How many are OCD?

Joe's comments in this stream are a good read. He sums it up pretty nicely. http://randall.executiv.es/tip3#comment-1893


I love this post in all its aspects!

This point is VERY important. It's understandable that people can make mistakes in pronunciation, but for those who are promoting or heavily involved in the project for a certain amount of time should really get their facts straight. FACT: Ubuntu is pronounced oo-boon-too; there are no acceptable variations. As soon as I here it pronounced incorrectly, I often start to discount any proceeding information (rightfully or NOT... I can't help it).

Furthermore, by not correctly pronoucing this word, we are actually saying: "my language/culture is superior to the origins/language/culture of the word." This is a form of racism.

Languages often "legitimately" assimilate words and bastardize pronunciations, but Ubuntu is one of those things that you CANNOT claim as your own word; we are ALL part of Ubuntu. It is necessary that we standardize such things like pronunciation so that we are all taking about the same thing, and so that people will take us seriously. If we aren't in unity on even the name of our project... then we can't move forward.


You summed it up better than I ever could have. Thank you!


I guess that if the comments on your blog are true, then the picture were a copyright violation, and so would have been removed for that reason ( this or some CoC reason, cause some people do not like the picture ).
But that's not very nice to not even warn you before removal ( if that's the case, of course, but i assume you were not ).

You have checked this couldn't be a technical issue on your side ?


Double and triple-checked. Not an issue on this end. And, not a peep about the post being one that could easily kill baby kittens.

We indeed have a silent and hence cowardly censor amongst us. Not cool.


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