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.