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First question: Is this sentence supposed to be humorous ? To me it makes no sense, is it intended in the movie or does the sentence seem logical to you ?

In some languages, j is pronounced /ʒ/ (like in "lesion"), so adding a 'd' makes the sound /dʒ/. That's why the name of Django Reinhardt is written like that, in his language, if there was no 'D' or if the 'D' was silent, his name would be pronounced "ʒango". But how does it make sense for the 'D' of "Django" to be silent ? It would have be pronounced "Jango" anyway.

Would it be pronounced "duh-jango" if the 'D' wasn't silent ? I know it's just to give style but the sentence wouldn't be relevant


I read this before writing my question, it didn't help.

  • If that article didn't help you we can't. I would pronounce the word "Jango" just like I would the Django Software Foundation. It wasn't intended to be humorous. – mstorkson Jan 25 '17 at 19:34
  • For all practical purposes, adding the d just means pronounce it like the hard /j/. Don't consciously try to add a /d/ sound to the front. – Robusto Jan 25 '17 at 19:50
  • @Robusto So I'm right to think it's so people don't say "duh-Jango" ? – Teleporting Goat Jan 25 '17 at 19:54
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    I had an African student whose name was Ndavid. That was as close as the immigration person could come. The 'N' was swallowed. It mattered without mattering, but the 'N' made the 'D' stronger. Most people simply said "David", but the family pronounced an almost indiscernible 'n'. Djanjo is sort of the same. It matters only because it makes the 'J' harder or more pronounced. – WRX Jan 25 '17 at 20:01
  • @WillowRex I don't think that's comparable, because the /d/ sound is included in the english 'J'. It's the point of the question. If he had said "It's Njango, the 'N' is silent." that would have made sense. – Teleporting Goat Jan 25 '17 at 20:04
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Yeah, it's probably meant to make sure people don't say something like "duh-jango". Many English speakers don't know that much about phonetics and aren't consciously aware that the "j" sound is an affricate that starts out the same way as the "d" sound.

Even if they are aware, some might mistakenly think "dj" was supposed to represent a lengthened version of this sound, i.e. /dd͡ʒ/ realized as something like [dː͡ʒ]. See the answers and comments to this ELU question ("In the word “Scent”, is the S or the C silent?") that assert that "scent" is pronounced with a longer initial consonant than "sent" or "cent". I think these comments are wrong, but it shows how someone might think this kind of thing based on the spelling.

  • Thanks, I too think it depends on how native speakers perceive phonetics. – Teleporting Goat Jan 25 '17 at 20:44
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First you should know that there is an old film called "Django", a 1966 "spaghetti western" directed by Sergio Corbucci. The actor who plays Django in that film is Franco Nero, who you might recognize as the same man Jamie Foxx says "the D is silent" to in Tarantino's film.

So it's a hidden joke -- the new Django (Foxx) tells the old Django (Nero) how to pronounce the name, to which the old Django replies "I know." Tarantino is a huge film buff and so his movies are often full of these kind of jokes and references.

But to address your question about pronunciation: I don't know why the original film's main character is named "Django", or why his name is pronounced as "Jango". There is no "Dj" sound in English, so it's a kind of "borrowed (proper) noun" (words in a language that were 'borrowed' or adopted and adapted from another language). The pronunciation is the same as what it would be in the original language, which Wikipedia suggests may be a Romani diminutive of the French name "Jean", from the famous jazz guitarist Django Reinhart.

How the film relates to the guitarist, I don't know. It's possible Corbucci was a fan of Reinhard. More importantly, though, the name of the character in Tarantino's film is almost certainly an homage to the older film and so uses the same pronunciation, even if it doesn't necessarily make perfect sense in the story.

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    I can't stand Tarantino but bravo for knowing that. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/djinn – Lambie Jan 25 '17 at 21:32
  • @Lambie If you've never seen the original "Django" ... don't bother. I remember very little about the plot (other than a couple of spoilers). Sergio Leone's films ("A Fistful of Dollars", "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"), however ... – Andrew Jan 25 '17 at 21:35

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