Not since the days of Hermione (“Hermy-own”), Seamus (“See-miss”), and accio (“ACK-ee-oh”? “AH-see-oh”? No one knows) has the Potter community been presented with such a pronunciation kerfuffle. While we may have said things like “Private Drive” and “DRACK-o Malfoy” whilst growing up, we were secure in the knowledge that we at least knew enough about phonetics to meticulously sound out “Vol-de-mort.”
But apparently, the pronunciation is a lie. According to J.K. Rowling and also the French language, from which the name “Voldemort” actually derives, we should’ve been going t-less this whole time. The t in mort, which means “death,” is silent. Vol de mort = literally “flight of death,” or “theft of death,” or “flight from death.” Take your pick. French homonyms are a fickle beast. I’m more inclined to go with the third one, because that was always Voldemort’s biggest fear, wasn’t it? Going to that great big Chamber of Secrets in the sky?
You caught us early enough with the others, J.K. Rowling. We were able to correct our “Hermy-owns,” our “DRACK-o Malfoys,” and our “Faw-kezes” (was that one just me?), but it might be too late for “Voldemore.” Ugh. I once got pooped on by two birds at the same time, and it gave me the same feeling I get when I look at this newfangled demon word and try to say it out loud. Voldemore. Voldemore. Maybe if I keep saying it, the name won’t sound so unnatural and gross on my tongue. Voldemore. Nope. It’s not working.
Pros of pronouncing it “Voldemore”:
It’s correct. You know, technically.
We’ll gain entry to an exclusive club whose sole other member is J.K. Rowling, our sun and stars. She says she’s pretty sure she’s the only one who pronounces it this way. It could be just her and us. WILL SHE NOTICE US THEN? WILL SHE RESPOND TO OUR TWEETS? WHAT MORE DOES SHE WANT FROM US?
The cons of pronouncing it “Voldemore”:
It sounds like Macklemore’s alter ego.
We don’t have the willpower to override the decades-strong voice in our heads that pronounces the t.
It’s too Edgar Allan Poe. (Quoth the Raven, “Voldemore.”)
It just doesn’t sound as evil. The biting t at the end might very well be what gave He Who Must Not Be Named his power of terror, because it certainly wasn’t his ability to kill babies (he sucked at that), or his flagrant disregard for Harry’s education (Good Guy Voldemore—always attacks Harry at the end of the school year). Have we stumbled upon the truth here? Has the wizarding world been living in fear of a letter? You know what they say—fear of the letter “t” increases fear of the thing itself. Or something like that.
I’M SORRY, J.K. ROWLING. I’m sorry I can’t make “Voldemore” happen. I’m sorry I can’t be better. But you let this charade go on for far too long, and now it’s too late for me to change my ways. It’s too late for “Voldemore.” It’s too late for everything.