This article might be a bit of an interesting one. When you’re wondering how to pronounce something, most of the time, you’ll go to YouTube or Google Translate, and not something you read like an article, but alas I shall try my best.
All of you will know Notre Dame as being the historical cathedral in Paris which burnt down in April of 2019. But most of you will have been pronouncing it wrong.
When you pronounce it, you should be saying “Not tra Dam” but with a French accent.
The “Not” sounds almost like a northern person saying “nut”. The “tra” should sound like you have some phlegm during the “r”. And the “dam” is almost as if a very softly spoken person is saying “dim”.
I know I might not have made that too clear, but trying to explain how to pronounce a foreign word is easier said than done.
About the cathedral
In the French Language, “Notre Dame” means “Our Lady”, and we’ll get into what lady that is later in the article.
Should you ever be lucky enough to visit, you can see the crown of thorns relic that Christ had to walk through the town wearing when he got crucified.
The building of the cathedral started in 1182, under the supervision of Sully. But it wasn’t until the 1300s that the main structures were finished.
Even though he died in 1196, before it’s completion, Sully still attended the first-ever mass at Notre Dame.
Recently, the cathedral was in the news when it set alight, and pictures of the flames spread quickly on both the news and social media.
The world was so devastated, in just two days, 900 million Euro was raised for the rebuilding of the building.
Most people believe the fire was due to negligence or an electrical fault, although some have questioned these claims.
With Twitter being Twitter, rumours surfaced that it would be rebuilt in a “modern art” style. But French officials were quick to dismiss this.
If you were to talk to a British person, they would most likely call the cathedral either “Not ra Dam” or “Not ra Dahm”.
There is no denying that to say the latter would simply be incorrect, the French say “Dam” not “Darm”. This mistake is likely from trying to pronounce French but misunderstanding the language.
However, maybe there is a justification for saying “Not ra Dam”. One could argue that this is the correct pronunciation, just with a British accent.
If you were to cross the pond to speak to an American, there would be four ways that most of them will pronounce it. How they do so may depend on which part of the country they’re from.
“Noter Dame”, “Note ra dahm”, and “Note ra dame”, “Note ra dam”.
The first three are just straight-up incorrect. And people who say them likely don’t speak French. But the fourth is similar to the British “Not ra dam”, in that you could say it’s the correct pronunciation but with an American accent.
But on the other hand, there will be some who say that the French accent is what makes it the correct pronunciation.
Who is our lady?
There have been trillions of women throughout history. So which one is so important that she has one of the most historic cathedrals in the world named after her?
Who could it be other than the Virgin Mary?
As many of you will know, Mary was a prominent figure in the Bible. Despite being a virgin, she still gave birth to Jesus Christ.
No matter whether or not she was a real person, she is still one of the most influential people ever.
The Story of the Hunchback
We couldn’t talk about Notre Dame without talking about the most famous story where the cathedral is the primary location. The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Quasimodo is not too pleasant to look at. He’s a bell ringer at Notre Dame for his master Frollo. All his life he’s been trapped in the tower.
But when his evil master attempts to take Princess Esmeralda, he must come out of hiding to be able to save her.
The Disney version of this story combines the heart-wrenching tale with music and animation to make it come to life.
The significance of the Hunchback
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” isn’t just a lovely tale. It also has some vital messages that turn fairy tales on their head- it was Shrek before Shrek was a thing.
The first lesson is that ugly people also deserve love and respect. Being attractive shouldn’t mean that you have people falling at your feet.
But it also shows that power dynamics aren’t always akin to morality. In past tales, the hero is often a prince or a God. And the villain is a hermit.
But in this tale, it’s the master who is the bad guy, and the social recluse who’s the hero.
What does the future hold?
Nobody can say for sure what will happen in the future. But Notre Dame has been a part of French culture for so long, nobody will be willing to give it up without a fight.
Once it’s been restored to the way it looked before, I can imagine the fire safety measures they have in place will be taken far more seriously to prevent another disaster.
And when everything is sorted, people from all over the world will continue to come to the cathedral to gaze as it’s beauty.
The pronunciation of “Notre Dame” is something that many in the UK and the USA get wrong. Or maybe it isn’t. Perhaps we say it correctly just with our local accents.
But then again, the French accent may be part of how to pronounce it correctly.
No matter how you pronounce it, the cathedral has been around since the 1300s. It’s home to so much beauty, history, and culture, it’s going to take more than a fire to take it away from us.
This church was named after the Virgin Mary, and just like her legacy, it can’t be destroyed so easily.