Milan Ilnyckyj: the new definitive guide to pronunciation


in Rants, Writing

Those of you who have been around since the NSN days will find this familiar, but it seemed the time to dust it off and repost it.

Part I: Ilnyckyj

While it looks fearsome, this part of the name is quite easy. It is pronounced: ill-knit-ski, as in sick-crochet-snowboard.

Part II: Milan

For starters, how do you know if you are pronouncing it wrong?

If you pronounce the first syllable ‘mah’, as in “Mah name is Slim, what’s y’urs?” you are pronouncing it wrong. If you pronounce it ‘my’, as in “My blasted quadruped has scampered,” you are also pronouncing it wrong.

The first syllable is ‘mill’ as in: “Let’s head down to the Old Mill, where I hear John Stewart Mill has cooked up his famous cider.”

If you pronounce the second syllable ‘lawn’, you are pronouncing it wrong. This is especially bad if you used ‘mah’ as the first syllable, because then the two together sound like you’re saying: “Mah lawn needs watering.” Lynn, as in Lynn Creek or Linseed Oil, is also incorrect for the last syllable.

The right way to pronounce it is ‘lhun’, as in London.

The hardest part of all is properly timing and stressing those two syllables: mill-lhun. The l-sound should be pronounced twice, with a brief pause between them and the first l-sound lasting quite a bit longer than the second. This part takes practice, but frankly I would be rather pleased just to see the errors described above diminish somewhat in their frequent usage among my friends.

So, there you have it:
Milan Ilnyckyj = mill-lhun ill-knit-ski.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben November 11, 2005 at 11:28 pm

I’d just assumed it was pronouned ‘Milan’…

Z November 12, 2005 at 9:27 am

I’m going to have to make one of these for myself pretty soon.

Tristan Laing November 12, 2005 at 11:43 pm

Now, I cannot be certain if this feeling is a result of several years getting accustomed to your style of speech and writing, but nevertheless I really do believe there is something about it a little bit extrordinary. (Something which shines through just a little brighter in expository or descriptive passages, this entry being a combination of those). It makes me hope that you do at some point become comfortable enough to write and publish fiction, or even write publicly consumable non-fiction (as in the Economist, or similar). Which reminds me, I still havn’t actually read the fish paper, I think it is my Gmail inbox archives…

Milan November 12, 2005 at 11:54 pm


Thanks. One of my great hopes for the next ten years (along with completing a PhD and traveling almost everywhere) is to write either a book-length piece of fiction or a play. Right now, I am just trying to assemble enough experience and writing skill to make it anywhere near possible.

Milan November 13, 2005 at 10:18 pm

Regarding: “you are pronouncing it wrong,” as commenting upon via email.

While some purists may assert that the proper form of the above idea would use the adverb ‘wrongly,’ I can only counter that the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes the use of the word ‘wrong’ in an adverbial sense since at least 1330 A.D. Moreover, it is necessary for producing the proper Hermione Granger-inspired state of priggishness, with regards to pronunciation.

Milan October 15, 2006 at 4:38 pm

The name ‘Ilnyckyj’ started as a Ukrainian word with a silent concluding letter. It was then transliterated through German, contributing to the ‘J’ at the end.

Tom October 19, 2007 at 7:23 pm

What an odd thing to make…

. September 5, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Milan (given name)

Milan is a common Slavic male name derived from the Slavic element mil, meaning gracious. Milan was originally a diminutive or nickname for those whose names began with “Mil-“. It is used predominantly by Czechs and Serbs but also frequently in Russia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria. It was in the top 20 names for boys born in Slovakia in 2004. It was the eighth most popular name for boys born in the Netherlands in 2007.

Darrel MacLeod July 21, 2010 at 2:36 am

The surname I definitely needed help with. I got the first name right , though, as it’s pronounced the same as the second part of the Scots name MacMillan.
As a well-educated Canadian, though,(you, not me!) I’m surprised that you don’t double the l in travelled, or spell programme the British way. Especially after attending Oxford! Please tell me you don’t pronounce it the American way, progr’m.

Milan July 21, 2010 at 2:41 am

In many ways, Canada sits between the British and American traditions.

As such, I feel free to choose whichever spelling I prefer, without obsessing about consistency. I like using ‘z’ in words like ‘analyze’, and I like using ‘u’ in words like ‘colour.’

I don’t like the look of ‘programme,’ but I enjoy pronouncing words like ‘ephedrine’ in the British way.

Darrel MacLeod July 21, 2010 at 2:41 am

P.S. “Political Science” is a misnomer. Politics is an art, not a science. (not all art is beautiful)

Darrel MacLeod July 21, 2010 at 2:51 am

The American influence is overwhelming and obvious, but they made some deliberate changes that we didn’t. I have a romantic preference for British usage, but some battles are not worth fighting. I don’t insist on “vackyoo-um” for vacuum, for instance, which I don’t believe is used anywhere anymore. By the way, is that zed or zee?

Milan June 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm

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