Does he pronounce English or French?

A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will
save you from most poisons”
(Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

first reader (Stephen Fry) / bi’:zɔ:r /
second reader (Jim Dale)
/ b3zɔɑ’ː/

The second reader’s pronunciation doesn’t sound like English for me, and suspect whether he pronounces French. Would you check whether it is English or French?


I think you are quite right to detect a French-ish reading in the Dale pronunciation.

Oxford Dictionaries Online gives two pronunciations.

  • The first is Fry’s: /ˈbiːzɔː/.
  • The second is /ˈbɛzəʊɑː/. This is closer to Dale’s but not the same: Dale palatalizes the /z/ to /ʒ/, reduces the /əʊ/ to /w/, and removes the stress to the resultant second syllable. In effect, it’s the second syllable of a word borrowed from the French and still pronounced after the French: bourgeois.

I have no idea where Dale gets his pronunciation. It may be a misunderstanding of the second dictionary-licensed pronunciation; it may be the closest version of the second pronunciation he found himself able to speak naturally; or it may be a deliberate effort to make the word sound exotic. It may even be a pronunciation learned in speech, though I would be surprised to hear that the word was spoken often enough in any modern circle for a reading to become current.

Interestingly, the OED observes that

In 17th c. Eng., as in F. and Sp., bezahar, bezaar was reduced to two syllables, bezar, beazar, beazer (bēzəɹ), of which the mod. pronunc. would be regularly ((bīzəɹ). The spelling bezoar (for bezaär) appears to be of mod.L. origin; it has influenced the pronunciation given in dictionaries since the end of last century.

To translate into modern notation: before the end of the 18th century the word was pronounced /ˈbiːzə/; after that (probably from Walker’s 1791 Critical Pronouncing Dictionary on), dictionaries gave the pronunciation noted in IPA as /ˈbiːzɔː/.

I imagine most pronunciations for the last century or so have been based on spelling rather than aural experience.

Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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