Say 'Lapis Lazuli'? Correctly
How To Say 'Lapis Lazuli' Audio
Phonetics For Pronouncing 'Lapis Lazuli'?
Famous Quotes & Facts
A Quick Overview Of Lapis Lazuli
How to pronounce Lapis Lazuli
There are two ways of pronouncing Lapis Lazuli, the first is LA:pis LA:zew:lee and the second is LA:pis l[e]:ZOO:lee (both are. Both of these are acceptable pronunciations, but arguably the second is more correct, and I'm going to tell you why I think that is so.
The etymology of the word 'lazuli' is said to be Arabic in origin, and means 'blue'. Historically there was quite a bit of cross-pollination between the Arab-speaking world and Spain, and in Spanish 'azul' means 'blue'. There is an excellent explanation on Spanishetymology.com of the so-called 'l-to-r shift' where the 'l' and 'r' is swapped over time, which is a long-winded way of saying that our word 'azure' and the Spanish 'azul' are different pronunciations of exactly the same word which have evolved over time. We see this in Italian too, where the word for blue is 'azzurro'.
What all this has to do with modern day English is as follows: the stress in 'azul' is on the second syllabe, you say ah:THUL (in Spain) or ah:SUL (in Latin America). For an explanation of this pronunciation difference, see my Hints on Spanish pronunciation. This stress is what leads me to the view that academically it is more correct to say l[e]:ZOO:lee than LA:zew:lee which is proposed on ikonet.com and on dictionary.com, as well as on the Google result for this word.
Note that I said 'academically more correct' because once a common pronunciation unleashes itself on the world it it becomes 'correct' regardless of whether it is accurate or not. Wars are not going to be fought over this word, but when I'm asked for a pronunciation, I like to give a reasoned explanation of why I choose one pronunciation over another. Most people will not care either way, but for those who find this sort of thing interesting, the background is informative.
Lapis Lazuli is a bright blue metamorphic stone which is composed mainly of lazurite.