Monday, March 2, 2009

How do you pronounce Silicon Valley?

Living in the land of Apple and eBay and Google this past decade, I've long been intrigued by the diversity of pronunciations for Silicon Valley.

By my reckoning, there are a few obvious choices: SiliCON (as in, "that dude on eBay CONned me), SiliCUN (rhymes with, "I finally got my computer to RUN") and SILikin - with emphasis on the first syllable and an ending the sounds like "Me 'n Pa are kin."

We won't speak of SiliCONE, which is simply wrong.

So I conducted an unscientific poll among my Facebook pals.

SiliCON got 6 votes.

SILikin got 3 votes.

SiliCUN got 2 votes.

Oh, and "Silly Con" got one vote, but that really just an example of Alabama humor.

I understand that both CON and KIN are acceptable pronunciations (not so much for CUN, I'm afraid) but I go with KIN for three reasons:

1. There are parallel examples. To illustrate, here's an example provided by Facebook pal Lindy Lacson: even though dragon ends with ON, it's typically pronounced DRAG-in. IN not ON. Same thing with the pronunciation of Lindy's last name, by the way.

2. When I checked Merriam-Webster's online pronunciation, I got IN not ON. Listen for yourself.

3. Mike Cassidy, author of the well-regarded Silicon Valley Dispatches column (San Jose Mercury News) pronounces it IN, not ON. I checked this with him during a recent chat, and he confirmed it.

So I'm calling it. Silicon may be spelled with ON. But it's IN for the WIN.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I believe the "SiliCONE Valley" is a little further south.
(Thanks folks, you've been great. I'll be here all week.)

If you are from Texas, you definitely say "SiliCON Valley".
If you are from Utah, you say "What's 'silicon'?"
If you are from Redmond, you say "the Mountain View office".