tahple or twople?

August 21st, 2008

The word tuple is used quite a lot in computing. That's what database people call a row in a table. It's also what several programming languages call a structure where the fields are ordered but not named.

It seems to be one of those words that is hard to translate, so other languages often use the English word. And yet there is some confusion about pronunciation. Some say tahple, some say twople. As far as I know there is no dispute about the spelling, it's tuple. So where do you get twople from that?

I think having a lot of exceptions on pronunciation from what is the obvious pronunciation is bad for language. There are words that are fancy or interesting enough to perhaps deserve it, but tuple isn't one of them. So I'm going to keep saying tahple.

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6 Responses to "tahple or twople?"

  1. tante says:

    I pronounce it "twople" (as it is pronounced in German) but both versions are correct (see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tuple)

  2. Jay K says:

    I say tuhple now, but I remember saying twople after first reading it. I think I got that because I imagined it sounding like "Quadruple". Also a "duple" is a music term pronounced with that "oo" sound, but a "tuplet" is pronounced with the "uh" sound.

  3. Jonathan says:

    tub, tube.
    tuplet, tuple.

    You say tomayeto...

  4. enigmatic says:

    I'm a two-pull person. I think it's because I see "tu" as in "et tu brute" and ple as in numbers (triple, quadruple, etc). I never through about it as tah-pull until I saw your post. I'm an American, so maybe it's a language thing. Somewhat like color/colour.

  5. As I now understand it, the -tuple suffix comes from the Latin, where (in Classical pronunciation at least) 'u' is invariably pronounced like English 'oo'. I used to pronounce the word in question with the 'u' like in 'cup'. I have *never* heard it pronounced anything like "tahple," unless I'm totally mispronouncing *that*.