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Classical Notes: January 12, 2007 Archive

F is for Flutist (or Flautist)

Posted at 3:22 PM on January 12, 2007 by Rex Levang

Alison Young just raised a question that comes up from time to time: the one about flutists and flautists.

It wouldn't be the Web if people didn't weigh in on such questions, as they do on Wikipedia and bartleby.com. (Basically: they're both in the dictionary, but "flutist" has a much longer pedigree.) The surprise to me in all this was that the dictionary lists "FLAW-tist" as the first pronunciation of "flautist"; I don't believe I've ever heard anyone use that pronunciation.

For more on word origins, delivered by an expert, give a listen to Kerri Miller's interview with Dr. Anatoly Liberman of the U of M.