How do you pronounce Bokonon?

I’ve wondered about this every so often over the years.

How do you think the name Bokonon (specifically, the mountebank(*) from Cat’s Cradle, in case there are others) is supposed to be pronounced?

I’ve heard it said with the accent on the first syllable, and with the accent on the second syllable. I have no idea if there is a defined “canonical” way to say it. (ETA: I’m not aware if Vonnegut himself ever said. Did he ever mention the name in a talk or interview?)

(*) Yes, Bokonon himself calls himself that, towards the end of the book.

I can’t imagine it as anything but dactylous, with an accent on the first syllable, as if it nearly rhymed with Pokemon.

Not only is it how I instinctively read it before I knew what it meant, It’s supposed to be how the name Johnson is pronounced in the area, and Johnson has its first syllable accented. I can only imagine it maps as so: Jo = bo, h = ko nson = non.

boKOnon makes no sense to me.

Once I followed one of the tenets of Bokonon and it worked out well for me.

Lemme guess: You took a shy female out on a date and told her “It is not possible to make a mistake” and now she’s your wife?

ISTM the pronunciation you suggest is the one I’ve heard more often, and I’ve also thought of, and agree with, your logic. But yet, I’ve also heard boKOnon, and it is at least a feasible stress pattern, similar to “forgotten” and “toboggan” and “Pomona”.

I thought there was a pronunciation recommended in the book, with the accent on the second syllable (like Pomona). That’s how I’ve pronounced it (in my head), even though it seems awkward to me.


“Throatwarbler Mangrove”

How do others in your karass say it?

I love how in English there’s a word for everything. What an awesome language! Pity it’s so hard to spell though.

In my head, I’ve always pronounced it as an amphibrach, but I’ll switch the the dactyl if that’s the consensus. That seems to make Bokononism a bit harder to say, but it’s not like I say it aloud very often or, in fact, ever.

Throatwobbler Mangrove. Dammit, if you’re going to trot out this joke in every single “How Do You Pronounce …” thread (before I get a chance to do it), then at least get it right! :wink:

Or asked her to perform boko-maru.

To be fair, “dactylous” is my own preferred term. The proper adjective form of dactyl is “dactylic.” But that looks to me like it could be pronounced dack-TILL-lick, which is not a dactyl.

The original Greek word was daktylos (well δάκτυλος), which was a dactyl. And the Latin word was dactylus, also a dactyl. So I prefer to also use an autological word in English.

I actually prefer to pronounce all of the metric feet in this way. It works for “iamb,” “trochee,” and “anapest,” so I like to do it with all the rest. It makes them easier to remember.

Long-short-short, long-short-short
Dactyls in dimeter,
Verse form with choriambs
(Masculine rhyme):

One sentence (two stanzas)
Challenges poets who
Don’t have the time.

-Roger L. Robison

Maybe it was a koan. I was living in Alabama and was on medical leave. It wasn’t my idea but there I was. I have some friends who live in Washington and Oregon. I mentioned I was in communication with them to my roommate and he suggested since I couldn’t work for a couple of weeks anyway, why not pay them a visit? So I did. The tenet or koan? As I remember it, “Odd travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

Always think of it as buh-KOH-non , because of how the name of a local cereal manufacturer, Bokomo, is pronounced.

Right on. If you say “dactylous” with enough confidence, I’m sure you’ll suppress most of the throaty objections of “Hey, it’s dactylic!” However you pronounce it though, you’ll still have to contend with a bunch of blank stares.

What’s the adjective form of amphibrach anyway?

Isn’t iamb stressed on the first syllable, and doesn’t that make it a trochee? My head is spinning. Poets have a really hard job!

Now, I would have guessed that to be dactylous and/or -ic like Kokomo, but it’s actually an amphibrach?! Also, I just realized that amphibrach is itself a dactyl. This sucks! What a shoddy system!

This is correct. As per the late great Kevin McCarthy in the Bokonon segment of Between Time and Timbuktu.