Serene Life

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In the US/Canada, I've heard Nikon pronounced as nye-con, as in n-eye-con.

When I was in Southeast Asia, I heard it pronounced as knee-con. I'm assuming everywhere else in the world would pronounce it this way as well.

Is there a correct or universal way of pronouncing "Nikon"? I got some funny looks when I pronounced it as the former during my stay in SE Asia.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 19 down vote accepted

This is a regional thing - there is no universal way per se. In the UK most people pronounce it nick-on.

Considering Nikon is Japanese, however, and in Japan it's pronounced knee-con, one could argue that that is the 'correct' pronunciation. The Wikipedia article on Nikon gives the following pronunciation guide, which is very Japanese, with a palatised n at the end:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Nikon.ogg

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I don't agree that this is a regional thing. It is just wrong Americanese. Just as they butchered IKEA, SUBARU and more. –  ysap Jun 27 '11 at 7:43
    
+1 for everything except the first sentence! –  elwyn Jun 27 '11 at 8:30
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@ysap: Erm... how can it be "wrong"? Americans don't speak Japanese -- We speak English. Expecting a word to be translated faithfully in spelling as well as pronunciation is unrealistic whenever a word is borrowed across languages. English usually borrows the spelling but it rarely borrows pronunciation without at least some anglicizing . –  Billy ONeal Jun 27 '11 at 8:51
    
+1 for using per_se (and in italics! :) (oh, also, a great answer ;) –  AJ Finch Jun 27 '11 at 9:44
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@ysap: this is absolutely a regional thing: it's pronounced differently in different regions. Americans pronounce I in such a position eye (v-eye-tamin), Brits pronounce it ih (vitt-amin), and East Asians pronounce it ee, as in the Japanese for Japan nihon/nee-hon. @AJ Finch: sprinkling Latin into your posts makes you sound clever :D –  ElendilTheTall Jun 27 '11 at 11:54

I live and work in Japan as a translator and am fully bilingual, with a number of bilingual camera geeks in my social circle (some of whom actually work for Nikon).

I can confirm that there is no "correct" way to pronounce the word. Bilinguals when speaking Japanese pronounce it ニコン, which cannot be correctly replicated with English phonemes (the i is like an "ee" sound but shorter, the o is an "oh" sound but shorter, and the final n sound just doesn't exist in English). When speaking English, we pronounce it as Nigh-kon when speaking North American English and Nick-on when speaking British English.

In conversations with North American bilinguals, many voice the opinion that it sounds pretentious to pronounce it Nick rather than Nike when speaking with a North American accent. But that's a matter of personal taste, not correctness.

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