ENGLISCH/700: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (104) Lieutenant (SB)


104. loo-tenant or leff-tenant?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook,

I listened to a comedy series, called The Navy Lark, which is supposed to be very popular all over Britain and which you can hear on your computer if you take the link to the BBC 7 homepage: Listen Again: .

Listening to the series it reminded me of one question that raised it's head some time ago and I could never remember the answer to it: What is is the pronunciation of "Lieutenant".

I'm not sure if it was in all of the episodes - or just a few - but there was the "Loo-tenant" pronunciation instead of or as well as the "Leff-tenant".

Thank you
Peter Schneider (Austria)


Dear Mr Schneider

The Navy Lark ran for 3,000 years on the radio before being retired from service. And in fact last weekend, sub-lieutenant Leslie Phillips welcomed you aboard the infamous HMS Troutbridge for a three-hour voyage through six classic episodes in the life and times of a legendary comic flagship.

By listening to the programm you might find out how The Navy Lark got started; you will discover who might have been in starring roles and learn how the cast of the radio series were invited to take large bits of a real-life ship! What other popular "Larks" appeared on radio? How did the Troutbridge crew come to be running their own TV company? How exactly did Sub-Lieutenant Phillips get through Dartmouth? The answers are all there in the commentary accomplishing the programm [].

But back to your question and the correct pronunciation which are both dear to me so I am pleased to explain "lieutenant" as follows:

USA "loo-tenant".
UK except Navy "lef-tenant".
UK Navy (only) "le-tenant"."

Mrs Gobbledygook

3 November 2006