Home Forums WWII Pronouncing "Cupola"

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    Avatar photoAnonymous

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    Avatar photoMr. Average


    Avatar photoRod Robertson


    Avatar photoSplod

    I’ve always pronounced it “kuh POH lah” Have I gone insane? How do all you lot pronounced it?


    Like this, comrade.

    Avatar photoMartinR

    Kew po la.

    I used to pronounce it cup oh la many years ago when I’d only read it.

    Not a word which comes up in regular conversations very often.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoEtranger
    Avatar photoRules Junkie Jim

    A Canadian and a Briton agree:


    Looks like it’s kew-poh-la then, and I’ve been thinking it wrong all these years!

    Avatar photoRuarigh

    OED cites different pronunciations for British and US usage. Both agree on KEW-poh-la (/ˈkjuːpələ/) but British also uses kewp-la (/ˈkjuːpl̩ə/), while US uses CUP-oh-la (/ˈkəpələ/). Fascinating. I’ve always pronounced it KEW-poh-la.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


    Avatar photoGeneral Slade

    In my head I have always said CUP-OH-LA. I don’t think I have ever said it out loud.  At least not in polite company,

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    I suspect that Tim and Martin, and possibly other contributors, are old enough to remember, like me, when Airfix kits came with instructions written out in full. None of these new-fangled cartoonish instructions with iconographic symbology (and symbolic iconograpy) that could be followed by Walloons or Ukrainians, but lengthy directives in properly-formed sentences to “Locate and cement port and starboard flange-bracket fairings (parts 55 and 56)”. These fulfilled a double purpose; first, by “the naming of parts”, they gave really quite a good idea of how the original of the model was engineered, and, second, by the unapologetic use of correct technical terms, they painlessly imparted an oddly recondite technical vocabulary to seven- and eight- year-old boys whose principal motivation was to build this Focke-Wulf 190A so that they could run around with it going “NNEEE-Owwww NNEEEE-Owwww Dacka-Dacka-Dacke Wheeee…” along with the Spitfire IX they built last week.

    This inevitably resulted in the impressionable young mind meeting words that were quite outwith the ambit of workaday locutions, except perhaps in the works canteen at Vickers Armstrongs. So it made sense to pronounce the words as they are spelled, failing, in those juvenile years still having had been innocent of the pluperfect of faillir, to allow for the French origins of many technical terms in aviation and armour.

    I always imagined to myself that “cupola” was pronounced “cup-oh-lah” until put right by watching a programme that used the word in its architectural meaning. I had previously heard it pronounced something like “coupler” by Mr. Obbard, our grocer, who had been an RM Commando sniper in WW2 and who I enjoyed listening to as a kid, but I assumed that this was some special Royal Marine pronunciation that the rest of the world did not use. I was similarly deluded about the word “nacelle”, which for many years I imagined was properly pronounced “nackelly”. Fortunately I guessed right with “anhedral”, “dihedral”, “oleo”, and “aileron”, and “gondola” and “fuselage” were common enough to be picked up in everyday speech. Somebody once tried to tell me that “glacis” is correctly pronounced something like “glassee”, but I wasn’t having that.

    Similarly, in later years, when a passion for Airfix kits had been largely usurped by an obsession with SPI boardgames, there was a debate on the correct pronunciation of the strange (to 1970s England) new word “scenario”. Reference to the Concise Oxford (I think it was) suggested that the correct pronunciation was “shanario”. Nobody believed that, and I still don’t, so we carried on haggling between “senario”, “skeenaro”, and “skenario” until the rest of UK culture caught up with wargamers and started using the word in mainstream media.

    It’s probably lucky for my early sanity that the Airfix Bofors gun lay many years in the future, because I think I might have been permanently traumatised by the proper pronunciation of “Stiffkey stick”.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    Accordion to the OED, in RP it is kju: pəla


    …and that’s good enuff for me.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    to save embarrassment, this Brit calls it a sub-turret 🙂

    otherwise, I have been in the good company of Mr. Average (COO-puh-la)

    Avatar photoPatrice

    Thank you all! This is a very interesting thread for all foreigners who can passably read and write in English but are sometimes unable to be understood about very simple matters without knowing why.

    inevitably resulted in the impressionable young mind meeting words that were quite outwith the ambit of workaday locutions

    Yeees and the English teacher was often surprised to hear me talking about machine guns and exhaust pipes which were certainly not mentioned in the school book.

    it made sense to pronounce the words as they are spelled

    I’ve been trying to do that too, and then trying to pronounce what I thought I had heard, and never fully succeeded, and that’s why the Allied sheep opened fire on the bitch.


    Avatar photoSane Max

    John D Salt’s post is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever read.

    As a small boy (very small, 3 or 4 at most) I read the Ladybird book on the Indians of the Western Plains, and was deeply impressed both by the pictures of cowboys shooting indians (especially the Fetterman Massacre and the one where they fought from the dismounted wagon boxes, cos they looked exactly like the 1/72 ACW I happened to own in that one) but also by the simple and informative text. I would scamper up to people and say things like ‘Did you know the Sioux could make 13 different sorts of Jerky from buffalo tongues?’ or ‘The Nez Perce’s resistance to European encroachments on their territories is a neglected part of the so-called frontier period’

    By the time anyone was brave/mean enough to tell me how you actually pronounce Sioux, Nez Perce or Cheyenne I had already shamed myself to about a hundred people. It rankled for a long, long time.

    Then I watched a TV documentary and a real-life Old-timey californian was talking about the nez perce, and bugger me if he didnt pronounce it just the same way 3 year old me did. I bet people in Minnesota are walking around talking about the See-oux even now, and I was right all along.

    Avatar photoSane Max
    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    John D Salt’s post is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever read.

    If that is the sort of thing to warm your cockles, you must be emotionally starved to a degree unusual even at the wargamery end of what we like to call “the spectrum”.

    I blame you for the fact that I have now had to order myself a copy of the Ladybird Book of the Indians of the Western Plains. I was also sorely tempted by the Ladybird Book of Quantum Mechanics by Jim al-Khalili. It is a matter of continuing regret to me that the Ladybird Book of the Soldier was never updated to account for the changed structure of arms and services in the British Army when the original was rendered obsolete by the Strategic Defence Review of 1996. Politicians never think of the consequences when they start mucking about with force structures.

    All the best (within the emotional range of a teaspoon),


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