Saying Uranus incorrectly has dire and embarrassing consequences. For some reason, NO-ONE is pronouncing the name of this planet correctly – there is only ONE way, and it is revealed in this article. Say it properly, and do your bit towards saving us from the sky falling on our heads.
Before we look at how to say Uranus, let’s just go back a bit and ask ‘who was Uranus’? For those of you who have not had the privilege of an old-fashioned education, this may come as news. Long before Uranus gave his name to the planet, he was the God of the Sky and the First Ruler of the Universe – in other words a VIG (Very Important God). Ok, so there were some family problems, and one of his sons castrated him, but this is not the point. He was a God, people, and he can do things vengeful mortals can only dream of. Somewhere along the way he was eclipsed by more modern gods, and may have remained more or less forgotten had it not been for William Herschel discovering this enormous planet (third largest in the Solar System) in 1781.
Herschel didn’t call it Uranus (probably because he was English and knew this was not a name that would work out well) – he called it the Georgium Sidus after his patron King George III of England. It’s not a very good name, and no-one really took to it. Some people called it ‘Herschel’ – but it doesn’t really have an epic ring, does it? In stepped astronomer Johann Elert Bode, a German, who I’m guessing didn’t really get English pronunciation and punning humour. He pointed out that other planets were all named after the gods of classical mythology, and proposed naming the seventh planet from the sun ‘Uranus’, which eventually stuck. It’s a good fit – the Sky God and the sky blue planet – you can see how the possibility of vulgar semantics was eclipsed by the suitability of the name.
There is nothing wrong with calling the planet Uranus in any language but English. It evokes grandeur and majesty to everyone else in the world. Sadly, it does not have this effect on English speakers for whom it evokes lavatory humour, more lavatory humour, and nothing but lavatory humour. There are entire websites devoted to Uranus jokes – in the unlikely event that you don’t believe me, just google it and find out for yourself. There is no good way of saying ‘Uranus’ in English – it either comes out as (and it’s going too offend my sensibilities to write this) ‘your anus’, or ‘urinous’ (possibly urine us). You can’t say ‘Uranus’ without embarrassing yourself. Generations of school boys have chortled their way through more stupid puns on this name than should be allowed. Because of my youngest brother, I don’t even refer to Uranus as Uranus. I can’t say it – either way. I have to say ‘that seventh planet from the sun’ everytime time it come up in conversation, as these things do.
Recently I had an epiphany. Uranus, the VIG, has not gone away just because people started throwing money and prayers at new-comers. It takes more than a couple of centuries to recover from an insult to the nethers when you are a god – he was on medical leave. He was tired of the whole VIG thing, anyway. Listening to petitions and prayers all day takes it out of you. He would have stayed in retirement, but being the er, butt of numerous pathetic and bad jokes made him realise that nothing short of a terrifying re-appearance would put an end to the insults. The result? The end of the world is nigh, and English punners are responsible. Turn on the news and you will know I’m right. All the extra volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes….. It’s Uranus, I tell you, who is mighty p**sed off, with very good reason. He wants the jokes to stop, and if they do not he will drop the sky on our heads and end it all on February 31st 2012. I know this because I have received Uranian guidance and done the calculations, and I am as certain as Reverend Camping and all the other end-of-the-world prophets are about The Rapture that I too have it right.
Fortunately there is a solution – stop the rudeness. Let me help you. Those of us trying to say ‘Uranus’ with dignity have been going about it the wrong way. You can’t shift the emphasis in syllables and get it right, you have to make a radical change. Uranus has channelled to me that he would like us, henceforth, to pronounce his name as it is pronounced in many other languages – ooh/RAH/nus. Nothing about this is alien to the English tongue. We change the first ‘u’ to sound like the ‘u’ in ‘scuba’. See? Perfectly English. The ‘a’ sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘father’. Anyone can manage this. The rest stays the same. Say it with me: ‘ooh/RAH/nus’. You can even listen to the audio
Do your bit to save the world. Tell your friends, lobby your politicians, post to your social network and give this VIM (Very Important Matter) the attention it deserves, because if you don’t, when February the 31st 2012 rolls around, you probably aren’t going to be there to see it. You can’t say I didn’t warn you……
PS I’m now a bone fide
profit prophet of the Sky God, so if you want to send a large donation my way, I’ll see if I can put in a good word for you.