Sunday, March 14, 2010

How to pronounce Kolkata

Now that the IPL is well and truly underway, commentators, wannabe commentators, anchors, wannabe anchors, cricket fans, newsreaders and people all around the world would generally be talking about the world's greatest cricket team - KKR. Yes the Kolkata Knight Riders. Love them or hate them, but you can't ignore them. And as a result, one gets a lot of people saying the world Kolkata and all too often in a wrong manner. Something that makes me cringe. And Kolkata is a very simple and easy word to pronounce. It's not as if you are pronouncing Thiruvanathapuram or Machilipatnam - is it? Some of the common ways in which people have been going around mispronouncing are :
CALL-KATA, CALL-KATTA, COOL-KATTA, KAL-KATA etc etc. For your understanding when I say, CALL here I am refering to the pronounciation of CALL as you would say CALL CENTRE. All right, enough of these.
So here's how you pronounce the word - KOLKATA. Try it like this by breaking it into three parts:
COAL- KAA-TAA. Yes, COAL (कोल)  as in Coal the fuel or Coal India. Like that. KAA is simple - KAA (का). And TAA is like you say TAA in  ताल (Ya - TAAL The Subhash Ghai movie)  and not like TA (टा) of Tata Steel. This is how the word is pronounced in Hindi text - कोल का ता
 And I am doing this as a public service initiative because even Tata Sky Active will not teach you this "pronunciation".
Look I don't mind you calling Kolkata as Calcutta or Kal-katta when you are speaking in English or Hindi or whatever. But when you are trying to say Kolkata then say it properly.
And if you don't listen to me about how to pronounce Kolkata, then I will cut you in mid-speech. Or simply as Mamata Di said - "If you don't listen na, I'll cut".


  1. I agree....this is a very serious issue...should be taken up at Lok Sabha by the MP from Jadavpur. Also to be taken up with Lalit bhai by Jaggu da.....simply not done.....maybe we can threaten offenders with one room locked up stay with sidhu(s) for one night and two days...

  2. Thanks for taking up this other favourite pet peeve of mine. SMS-ese obviously tops the list. And lack of traffic sense.

  3. My dear Sir,
    let's talk about only Indians here and this is a problem with most Indians. Indian children have never been taught that sounds of one language CANNOT be reproduced in another language AND hence, COAL is NOT pronounced as कोल (which is close to /kɔːl/) but as /kəʊl/

    Due to this reason of limitations in various sounds that exist in a language, cities and countries are called differently in different languages.
    When you speak or write English call it Calcutta. In German Calcutta is called Kalkutta or /kalˈkʊta/.

    The city of Cologne is called 'Köln' or /ˈkœln/ in German, /kɔˈlɔɲ/ in French.

    Uncouth, uncultured and ugly politicians raise these kind of inoccuous topics to stir communal unrest and they gain political mileage out of all this.

    Please stop this nonsense of fighting over non-native speakers mispronouncing your proper nouns. That's how it is brother!
    Don't Indians say /ˈdʒɜr'mənɪ/ (GERRRMANI) instead of /ˈdʒɜː'mənɪ/.

    By the way, I speak, read and write 21 languages fluently and Bengali is one of them.

    Jai Hind


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