JK Rowling reveals we’ve been pronouncing Voldemort wrong

HE is an all-powerful villain known among fearful wizard and witches as “He Must Not Be Named”, but among the legions of Harry Potter fans, it seems “He Who Cannot Be Pronounced” would be a more fitting epithet.

Lord Voldemort. It's pronounced 'Vol de Mawr' apparently. Picture: Contributed
Lord Voldemort. It's pronounced 'Vol de Mawr' apparently. Picture: Contributed
Lord Voldemort. It's pronounced 'Vol de Mawr' apparently. Picture: Contributed

JK Rowling, the author of the best-selling fantasy novels, has revealed her millions of readers have erred in the way they say the name of the arch-antagonist.

Eight years after the final instalment in the series, the writer provided an unexpected and belated twist by confirming that Lord Voldemort, the powerful wizard murdered Harry Potter’s parents when he was just a baby, is pronounced with a silent “t”.

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Fans across the world have regularly pronounced his name with a hard “t”, but Rowling confirmed that the correct pronunciation has a Gallic ring to it, similar to Camembert.

The linguistic disclosure was made by Rowling on social media after one reader, Michael Lucero from South Carolina, said on Twitter he never emphasised the “t” when saying Voldemort’s name. It was, he added, “one piece of Harry Potter trivia I always forget to mention.”

Just twenty minutes later, however, Rowling quoted his tweet and wrote: “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who pronounces it that way.”

Her comments sparked a flurry of responses from fans, many of whom realised they had been mistakenly pronouncing the villain’s name since the series began in 1997.

Ardit Haliti responded to Rowling’s tweet, saying: “I’ve pronounced it with a ‘t’ all my life. I am so sorry, Jo.” Another dismayed fan, Filipa Danielle, posted: “What? I’ve been wrong my whole life?”

Others were in denial, protesting Rowling’s version of the name, saying: “It sounds more frightening with the ‘t’.”

But the tweet proved good news for French fans who said they had long assumed the “t” to be silent. Replying to Rowling, Tracey Depelgrin wrote: “ My 14- year-old daughter pronounces it that way too! She’ll be thrilled.”

The various adaptations of the seven Harry Potter books, which have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, have also been unsure as to how pronounce Voldemort’s name.

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In the bestselling movies, the “t” is audible. The same is true in the popular British version of the audiobooks, narrated by Stephen Fry. But Jim Dale, the narrator of the US version, pronounces the name as Rowling intended.

Rowling’s correct pronunciation of “Voldemore” brings some of the allusions in the character’s name to life, given the word roughly translates to “theft of death” or “flight from death” in French. Both phrases hidden in Voldemort’s name could allude to his quest for immortality in the series.

Rowling’s remarks also prompted a good-natured exchange with Scottish followers who highlighted other mispronounced words.

Broadcaster Muriel Gray gave the example of Ardeonaig, on Loch Tay. “Don’t even try it unless you’re local,” she advised. Rowling replied: “I wouldn’t humiliate myself. I’d just point at the map and cough.”