The pronunciation of "Bowie"

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JonLeBlanc
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The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby JonLeBlanc » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:17 pm

And no, I'm not talking about the space oddity. I was told growing up that a Bowie (knife) was pronounced "boo-ee," but I often hear people pronounce it "bow-ee." Is there a correct pronunciation? How do you folk say it? Thanks!
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby jpm2 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:30 pm

Never heard it pronounced bow-ee, it's always been boo-ee.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby JD Spydo » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:37 pm

Very interesting question about the proper pronunciation of the word "Bowie". I read a long, long time ago all the way back in the 70s in an issue of Rolling Stone magazine that late Rock Star David Bowie whose real birth name was David Jones. He wanted to change his name to David Bowie as to not get confused with David Jones of the Monkees rock group. I heard that he chose the name David Bowie also because he had a fascination with Bowie Knives himself.

I've also heard over the years that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame, Steve Tyler of Aerosmith fame and the late David Bowie were/are all collectors of fine cutlery. I had heard that even before I ever joined this forum. And by the way me and Billy Gibbons share the same Birthday Dec, 16 :D

Jim Bowie who apparently made that style of knife famous has gotten famous again in modern times. I've heard that there are a few towns in the south that have a yearly "Jim Bowie Days" celebration. I know of a couple of towns in Kentucky for sure.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby Doc Dan » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:42 pm

Boo wee

That’s how it is pronounced in Jim Bowie’s part of the country.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby JonLeBlanc » Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:27 pm

Doc Dan wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:42 pm
Boo wee

That’s how it is pronounced in Jim Bowie’s part of the country.
Yes indeed, and that's my part of the country, but strangely enough I've heard lots of people refer to a "bow-ee knife." I don't really like correcting people on things like that because it makes me feel pedantic, but it still strikes me as weird.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby Doc Dan » Thu Dec 19, 2019 12:15 am

JonLeBlanc wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:27 pm
Doc Dan wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:42 pm
Boo wee

That’s how it is pronounced in Jim Bowie’s part of the country.
Yes indeed, and that's my part of the country, but strangely enough I've heard lots of people refer to a "bow-ee knife." I don't really like correcting people on things like that because it makes me feel pedantic, but it still strikes me as weird.
Yeah, but they swim in the boo wee river. :D
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby ChrisinHove » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:54 am

I never knew! Boo-ee... I’ll need to get used to that.

Bow-ee as in bow and arrow?

Bow-ee as in bough/bow of a tree?

I’ve heard them both for the late, great musician.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby VashHash » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:33 am

Boo-wee knife.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby The Deacon » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:48 am

JonLeBlanc wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:27 pm
Yes indeed, and that's my part of the country, but strangely enough I've heard lots of people refer to a "bow-ee knife." I don't really like correcting people on things like that because it makes me feel pedantic, but it still strikes me as weird.

The way I see it, between Bow-ee and Boo-wee there's no right or wrong way to pronounce Bowie.

In my book, correcting someone on how to pronounce the name of something that's essentially the surname of a person who has been dead for over 150 years would be more presumptuous than pedantic. Even different branches of a single family can pronounce the surname they share differently.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby bearfacedkiller » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:29 am

You say tomato and I say tomahto.

I will call it whatever I want. Growing up in New England I always heard if Bow-ee. If someone named Bowie asked me to call them Boo-we then I would obviously respect that and call them what the wanted me to call them. As far as the knife style goes I don’t think it matters.

If I was Jim Bowie or the blacksmith who made his knife it would not be the way Bowie is pronounced that would have me rolling over in my grave. It would be the fact that the definition of a Bowie knife has been watered down to mean little more than a knife with a clip point.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby JD Spydo » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:39 am

bearfacedkiller wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:29 am
You say tomato and I say tomahto.

I will call it whatever I want. Growing up in New England I always heard if Bow-ee. If someone named Bowie asked me to call them Boo-we then I would obviously respect that and call them what the wanted me to call them. As far as the knife style goes I don’t think it matters.

If I was Jim Bowie or the blacksmith who made his knife it would not be the way Bowie is pronounced that would have me rolling over in my grave. It would be the fact that the definition of a Bowie knife has been watered down to mean little more than a knife with a clip point.
That reminds me of a really good friend I had a few years back that was a Blue-Blood British guy who moved here to the USA in the 90s. He had a heavy British accent too. Great guy but it used to just drive me nuts how he would say certain words. Like the word laboratory for instance he would pronounce it La-Bor-a-tory. He would call a television a "telee". Great guy but he just drove me nuts with all of those unusual pronunciations :rolleyes: >> and I could give you at least 50 more examples :o

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby yablanowitz » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:45 am

The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby Doc Dan » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:05 am

What you all are missing here is that this is not a name in England. It is the name from Louisiana with heavy French, Indian, and Creole, influences on the pronunciation. Boowee is how it has been pronounced for generations. This is not unknown. It is well known. David Bohwee is not Jim Boowee and the knife is pronounced that way in the South, too...unless a pronunciation is brought in from the outside.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby ChrisinHove » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:34 am

JD Spydo wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:39 am
bearfacedkiller wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:29 am
You say tomato and I say tomahto.

I will call it whatever I want. Growing up in New England I always heard if Bow-ee. If someone named Bowie asked me to call them Boo-we then I would obviously respect that and call them what the wanted me to call them. As far as the knife style goes I don’t think it matters.

If I was Jim Bowie or the blacksmith who made his knife it would not be the way Bowie is pronounced that would have me rolling over in my grave. It would be the fact that the definition of a Bowie knife has been watered down to mean little more than a knife with a clip point.
That reminds me of a really good friend I had a few years back that was a Blue-Blood British guy who moved here to the USA in the 90s. He had a heavy British accent too. Great guy but it used to just drive me nuts how he would say certain words. Like the word laboratory for instance he would pronounce it La-Bor-a-tory. He would call a television a "telee". Great guy but he just drove me nuts with all of those unusual pronunciations :rolleyes: >> and I could give you at least 50 more examples :o
Ahem! I think you guys are the ones with heavy accents....

Anyway... https://youtu.be/uDd5Ps4YqPQ The fact that people debated the pronunciation of David Bowie’s name even when he was alive shows how readily these can evolve after years, decades and centuries.

Pronunciations can vary from town to town, let alone county or country.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby Evil D » Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:27 pm

It's a tomato/tomato thing. In KY you know who's local and who's not by how they say Louisville.
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby James Y » Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:42 pm

JD Spydo wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:39 am
bearfacedkiller wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:29 am
You say tomato and I say tomahto.

I will call it whatever I want. Growing up in New England I always heard if Bow-ee. If someone named Bowie asked me to call them Boo-we then I would obviously respect that and call them what the wanted me to call them. As far as the knife style goes I don’t think it matters.

If I was Jim Bowie or the blacksmith who made his knife it would not be the way Bowie is pronounced that would have me rolling over in my grave. It would be the fact that the definition of a Bowie knife has been watered down to mean little more than a knife with a clip point.
That reminds me of a really good friend I had a few years back that was a Blue-Blood British guy who moved here to the USA in the 90s. He had a heavy British accent too. Great guy but it used to just drive me nuts how he would say certain words. Like the word laboratory for instance he would pronounce it La-Bor-a-tory. He would call a television a "telee". Great guy but he just drove me nuts with all of those unusual pronunciations :rolleyes: >> and I could give you at least 50 more examples :o
I had a few friends from England when I lived in Taiwan, and I got used to it. Some had different regional accents/dialects from each other. One who spoke with a more Received Pronunciation in particular pronounced military “mili-tree.” Or lieutenant as “lef-tenant.” Or going to the drugstore was going to “the chemist.” It never annoyed me, because I understood what they were saying. Even people with English as a second language are usually not a problem for me, as long as THEY know what they’re talking about.

Funny enough, IIRC, the actual Bowie knife looked more like a long butcher knife than the stylish-looking clip point knife.

Jim

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby JD Spydo » Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:37 pm

James Y wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:42 pm
JD Spydo wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:39 am
bearfacedkiller wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:29 am
You say tomato and I say tomahto.

I will call it whatever I want. Growing up in New England I always heard if Bow-ee. If someone named Bowie asked me to call them Boo-we then I would obviously respect that and call them what the wanted me to call them. As far as the knife style goes I don’t think it matters.

If I was Jim Bowie or the blacksmith who made his knife it would not be the way Bowie is pronounced that would have me rolling over in my grave. It would be the fact that the definition of a Bowie knife has been watered down to mean little more than a knife with a clip point.
That reminds me of a really good friend I had a few years back that was a Blue-Blood British guy who moved here to the USA in the 90s. He had a heavy British accent too. Great guy but it used to just drive me nuts how he would say certain words. Like the word laboratory for instance he would pronounce it La-Bor-a-tory. He would call a television a "telee". Great guy but he just drove me nuts with all of those unusual pronunciations :rolleyes: >> and I could give you at least 50 more examples :o
I had a few friends from England when I lived in Taiwan, and I got used to it. Some had different regional accents/dialects from each other. One who spoke with a more Received Pronunciation in particular pronounced military “mili-tree.” Or lieutenant as “lef-tenant.” Or going to the drugstore was going to “the chemist.” It never annoyed me, because I understood what they were saying. Even people with English as a second language are usually not a problem for me, as long as THEY know what they’re talking about.

Funny enough, IIRC, the actual Bowie knife looked more like a long butcher knife than the stylish-looking clip point knife
That's an interesting point Jim because I'm wondering if we really know what Jim Bowie's knife really did look like? I bet that the 2019 Bowie knives are considerably different. Not to mention the stark contrast in changes in materials for handles and blades.
Cold Steel's TRAILMASTER Bowie in the Carbon V era is still one of my all time favorites. But I also like Fallkniven's THOR model as well.

But there's no danger of Jim Bowie being forgotten >> whether or not anyone get's his name pronounced correctly or not.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby James Y » Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:41 pm

I agree that however his name is pronounced, he will be remembered. IMO, the actual account of the “sandbar fight” is extremely fascinating, and a perfect example of how unpredictable real violence can be.

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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby The Meat man » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:05 pm

Evil D wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:27 pm
It's a tomato/tomato thing. In KY you know who's local and who's not by how they say Louisville.
How do the locals say it? With the "S" sound?

It's the same way with a town close to where I live: Versailles, Missouri. It's pronounced how it looks in English.
Lots of French place names but not so much French pronunciation. :)

Re the topic, I grew up pronouncing it boh-ee. Boo-ee sounds very strange to my ears. ;)
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Re: The pronunciation of "Bowie"

Postby OldHoosier62 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:40 pm

Doc Dan wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:05 am
What you all are missing here is that this is not a name in England. It is the name from Louisiana with heavy French, Indian, and Creole, influences on the pronunciation. Boowee is how it has been pronounced for generations. This is not unknown. It is well known. David Bohwee is not Jim Boowee and the knife is pronounced that way in the South, too...unless a pronunciation is brought in from the outside.
The only issues I see with your premise is that the Bowie family hailed from Kentucky...Jim Bowie was born there in Logan County in the late 1700's. They migrated to Louisiana later on. The Bowie surname is of Scottish origins meaning "fair haired", not French. And pronunciation is, like almost every word, regional. Ultimately, neither pronunciation is incorrect.


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