I recently discovered a new book while visiting a flower friend. And from it I've found an answer to a question I've long pondered over.
What is the correct way to pronounce "Dahlia"?
Think first how you like to say it. Then think of other people you've heard say it differently.
I always have said "dal-yuh", dal like gal and Sal. But I have a good friend who always says "doll-ee-yuh", doll like dollhouse. I'm from Salt Lake. She's from Austin. And I've found that whenever we speak directly to each other about dahlias, we tend to say it one way, then quickly add the other pronunciation, like we're unsure how to say it and don't want to assume who is correct.
We both now live in Washington, where dahlias grow very well and a lot of people have them in their yards. Most people here also say "dal-yuh".
So who is right?
So the book is called 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, by Diana Wells. And reading up on the Dahlia, having forgotten about the pronunciation in that moment, the very first thing said was this:
"Dahlia's are called after Dr. Anders Dahl, a Swedish Botanist."
And that's when it hit me. "Dahl? Like Roald Dahl the author??" I think enough of us know Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda well enough to know that we all say "Dahl" like "doll".
And just to be sure, I've now gone one step further and looked up how to pronounce Dahl in Sweden. According to the voice recording on Forvo, (a fun linguistic website, btw), they actually say it more like, "dohl" like Dole Pineapple.
So there you go! Though I can't claim to be an impartial judge, I think I'm going to rule that my friend was closer. "Doll" is closer to "dole" than "dal". So this round goes to Jill from Austin, Texas. Congrats Jill!
Buuuttt.... I AM going to pull this final card in conclusion: there are probably more than just a few ways to say the name of this flower, and who is to say one is more accurate than another? Language evolves, just like the people who use it. Tomato Tomahto, right?
So how do YOU naturally say Dahlia? I'd love to hear of other pronunciations. Leave a comment and share it with all of us.
I'm personally going to have a really hard time saying anything but "dal-ya".