The Naming of Dogs

Our dog is called Perdita.  This is the same name as in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and also in 101 Dalmatians. I am sometimes asked if it is pronounced PerDEEta or PERdita.

The thing is: this is a name than gets pronounced both ways. Listen for example to

What did Shakespeare intend? Hard to be sure.  Sometimes, a name in Shakespeare appears in a formal verse form, such that one can tell where he intended the stress to lie.  Not so here. Although, there are these lines from Paulina:

That she is living,
Were it but told you, should be hooted at
Like an old tale: but it appears she lives,
Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.
Please you to interpose, fair madam: kneel
And pray your mother’s blessing. Turn, good lady;
Our Perdita is found.

Which to my ear sound as if the name sits more happily with the stress on the first syllable.  And this is how it is usually pronounced in classical productions.  Albeit that Yahoo Answers is the other way around.

Neither is it clear what Dodie Smith would have had in mind.  But by the time 101 Dalmations the big screen with Disney, is was PerDEETa, with the stress on the second syllable.  Not that we care much how other people pronounce the name.

For the time being, she is PerDEEta, because she is still the deeter dog. When she grows up, and becomes better behaved, she might grow into a PERdita.  We shall see.



Filed under News from at home

6 responses to “The Naming of Dogs

  1. I always remember being lectured as a 20 something year old, by John Guest [ winner of the Heinemann award for literature for his book Broken Images ] in the Travellers club of all places , that in England it is correct to pronounce names with the stress on the first syllable – and he cited WESTminster – scoffing at those who dared pronounce it WestMINster ….. I thought then – Lorks I’d never given it a second thought – but ever since something in the back of my mind [ him I suppose ] wags a finger whenever I hear stress placed on a second syllable or indeed am tempted to do so myself .

  2. Yes, but several of the exceptions are girls’ names ending in vowels. As Lucinda, Olivia, Nigella, Persephone and Roberta would agree.
    Westminster is different, I think. Stress on the first syllable for civil purposes, and on the second for clerical.

  3. Hmm! I would be impressed if you can manage this sentence: “Eventually, excessive reliance on pronunciation presumptions entails the impression of buffoonery concerning Edwina, Louisa and Penelope, whether in Geneva, Wincanton or Northumberland”.

  4. Oh that’s just plain s iiiiiiiiii lly

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