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"Pronounce "Montjoie!"" Topic

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3,162 hits since 11 Mar 2007
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Comments or corrections?

XRaysVision12 Mar 2007 5:38 p.m. PST

I got the rules. I don't speak French.

So far I've been able to narrow the options to:




Both came from French speakers.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2007 5:42 p.m. PST

I like a refinement on the first:

But, if I feel like Mr. Bush in the Hornblower books, it's:

rmaker12 Mar 2007 5:53 p.m. PST

Or Mont-joey.

Ed the Two Hour Wargames guy12 Mar 2007 6:12 p.m. PST


Personal logo Saginaw Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2007 6:21 p.m. PST

Yeah. What the OFM said.


XRaysVision12 Mar 2007 6:21 p.m. PST

Thanks all!

TredHedJon Inactive Member12 Mar 2007 6:51 p.m. PST

Between French and Irish Gaelic (my wife is studying it) it is absolutely amazing the human race hasnt summoned some elder god…..

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2007 7:22 p.m. PST

It's bad enought trying to pronounce English words, and then those darn foreigners have to use our letters, for Heaven knows what.

artslave Inactive Member12 Mar 2007 8:11 p.m. PST

It is rather just the opposite. Here is a fun quote:
seen on a T-Shirt

English doesn't borrow from other languages. It follows them down dark alleyways and mugs them for loose grammar.

by Caroline Meeks on 09/07/04

So, for this sort-of French speaker, it would be "mon-zwah".

TredHedJon Inactive Member12 Mar 2007 8:26 p.m. PST

Ok English may mug other languages but here….join me in the slow spiral into insanity…..

Criochnaigh = "creek knee" Irish Gaelic for finished.
Failte Romhat = "full-sha row-it" Your welcome in the infernal language of the Emerald Isle.

Seriously……I think I lose sanity points every time she start summoning dem….er speaking Irish.

Wardlaw Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 12:58 a.m. PST

Mon (lose the t) and then something that is cross between a j and a sh and wah.


Doesn't help a all, does it!

SteveJ Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 1:47 a.m. PST

Monjwa- with a soft 'j'.

yowiedemon Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 3:41 a.m. PST

Montjoie – pronounced 'purple rabbit'

But then, I'm common as muck.

wyeayeman Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 3:58 a.m. PST

Its Mont Joy.
The reason is that French pronunciation changed AFTER the revolution. and words ending in OY or OI bcame 'wah' as this was deemed more egalitarian.
Thus the motto of the England is pronounced 'Jew et mon Droyt' as it is medieval french.

SteveJ Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 6:57 a.m. PST

More egalitarian?- you'll have to explain that one to me Wyeayeman.

Altius Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 7:38 a.m. PST

Um, that theory doesn't sound right to me, Wyeayman. My mom is French-Canadian, and I grew up hearing it spoken on a daily basis by my family, neighbors, and classmates. Our brand of French predates the revolution, and is not pronounced the way you suggest. As independant as the Acadians are/were (like any other North Americans), I doubt they would be so influenced by a revolution in far-off Europe that they would change the way they speak their own language. Especially given the chilly climate between the two nations during the late 18th Century.

Grinning Norm Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 8:00 a.m. PST

Wah was deemed more egalitarian, why? Well, the masses, le peuple, used the 'wah' pronunciation while the aristocracy didn't. When it became lethally hazardous to sound like an aristocrat, suddenly everybody started to use the pronuciation of the people.


wyeayeman Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 8:37 a.m. PST

Grinning Norm has it the way I understand it. Also like our Dr Johnson, French was the subject of overhaul and revision in the mid – late 18th C (revolution notwithstanding.
Also the spellings suggest the oi sound originally. We have ROYal, Right(from Droyt, otherwise it would be like that silly exchange in the movie Gettysburg), 'Bevvy' from boive etc. seems like as good an explanation as any to me.
Also I had to study 18th C French history in French at uni and was told this by a multi-lingual (half french) tutor, who was big into social consequences of the French Revolution.

Altius Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 8:44 a.m. PST

Well then, if that is so, it probably indicates the social origins of the French-Canadian people.

Slyde Klewlis Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 9:07 a.m. PST

Question still remains how Montjoie was actually pronounced by the French nobility during the Medieval period ?


Slyde Klewlis Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 9:12 a.m. PST

Oops almost forgot this link too.


English version of that same boardgame is below:


Altius Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 9:23 a.m. PST

Well, if you want my inexpert, lower-class French colonial opinion, it looks like "Mon-jwee" with a soft J sound. The "ie" in French is usually pronounced as "ee". The "o" is providing the "w" sound. If it were spelled Montjoi, THEN I could see it pronounced "Mon-jwa".

But whether mideval French nobility pronounced it that way – ya got me. I've already got my hands full trying to decipher Chaucer's writings in mideval English. (How DOES one pronounce "swyvened" anyway.)

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2007 10:38 a.m. PST

When people would ask Lieutenant Wojciehowicz on "Barmey Miller" how to pronounce his name, he always got indignantly puzzled. "Like it's spelled!"

His middle name was Tadeusz.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2007 12:07 p.m. PST

(How DOES one pronounce "swyvened" anyway.)

Is that a trick question? grin

Streitax Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 2:04 p.m. PST

Get it right and you win the prize, the demon Swyv comes to take you for a ride back to his crib.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 2:57 p.m. PST

Oh, come on, now: it isn't the first of April yet.

Someone needs to do a little homework on the history of the French language, but a start point is here:


There was no "oy" vice "wah" distinction between the French aristos and the ordinary people to be resolved by the revolution. What the revolution did, spurred primarily by Abbé Grégoire, was to complete the process of establishing a standard French, based primarily on the Francien or Parisien dialect of Paris, as the official language. The effort to do this, and to set aside patois--the regional dialects and in some cases very different "oïl" languages--had begun in the c.16th, and had been promoted for a century and a half by the Académie.

Acadien (and by derivation Cajun) differs from modern French because the early settlers were primarily from Anjou and Poitou and spoke those oïl languages. Québécois is different and derives from a different regional mix: the oïl languages of Normandy and Picardy, and regional variations of the modern language.

The aristocracy at the time of the revolution would have spoken primarily Parisien in society, although rural nobles would certainly have been able to communicate in their regional patois as well. Abhominations (with an "h"!) such as "Jew et mon Droyt" simply result from generations of Britons refusing to learn to speak French!

Allen (who grew up learning both Acadien and Québécois cant from neighbors while trying to learn proper Parisien in school and from a tutor, and then had to go on and pick up Early and Middle French in college to read historical source material; who pays no attention whatseover to the official efforts to meddle with Metropolitan French over the last century; and who never has the slightest difficulty making himself understood by a French waiter--but is quite capable of condemning a surly one a l'enfer in many interesting and confusing variations)

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 3:05 p.m. PST

By the way, I think the OFM has it closest.

Unless you go back far enough that it's Mons Gaudiae…


Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 3:18 p.m. PST

It's pronounced "Bob".

Jack Burton13 Mar 2007 5:05 p.m. PST

It's pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove"

subliminal death threat Inactive Member13 Mar 2007 6:48 p.m. PST

I thought it was "I'll swallow your soul".

kreoseus Inactive Member14 Mar 2007 5:38 a.m. PST


Why is your wife learning irish ?


Daffy Doug Inactive Member14 Mar 2007 7:57 a.m. PST

I think the French publically pronounce this MON ZWA, only so they can snigger to each other at how stupid Anglos sound. Really, it is "Mount Joy", and any Frenchie KNOWS this to be true: they just won't admit it (plagued Frenchie sense of humor, you can't deal with it….)

SteveJ Inactive Member14 Mar 2007 9:44 a.m. PST

Look_ I know it's difficult to use phonetic language over the net when there's no equivalent in English pronunciation, but let's put this one to bed- there is NO 'z' in there!.
Soft 'j'.
Thank you.

sgt bilko Inactive Member15 Mar 2007 2:09 a.m. PST

Shakespeare spells it 'Montjoy' in Henry V, and presumably pronounced it so…

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member15 Mar 2007 12:50 p.m. PST

Allen, would you tell that waiter to "va a l'enfer" or "va t'en a l'infer"?

I work in the French and Italian dept. at Univ. of Texas so this is fascinating to me (AND work related, boss!)

Merci mille fois!

Chned76 Inactive Member13 Apr 2007 7:36 a.m. PST


Nicolas Vitton de Saint Allais (1773-1842) wrote a dictionnary on French nobility in 1816 where he explains "Montjoie!"

First, in Medieval French he says you'd write it "Mont Joye" and normaly you would add "Saint Denis" to give the complete warcry of royal French army "Mont Joye Saint Denis !"

The origins of this French slogan is vague but French historian now thinks it comes from:

1/ Mont Joye: when medieval French discovered a placed where a miracle had occured, they would errect a cross on top of a small gathering of stonnes to mark it as a holy place for pilgrimage. People of that time being very religious there were quite a lot of these "Monts Joye" across the French kingdom and Mont Joye would soon be used as a word to designate a gathering point.

2/ Saint Denis: was chosen as the holy protector ("saint patron") of French king in the middle ages. And it was the banner of Saint Denis that was the Royal standard in the Army, also called "Oriflamme" (would be in modern French "Or y flambe" ie "Glittering Gold" banners)

Therefore "Mont Joye Saint Denis !" as a warcry could be translated as "On me and follow the King's banner !"

And yes SteveJ is right: "there is NO 'z' in there!.
Soft 'j', Monjwa- with a soft 'j'.


Eric from Paris

Daffy Doug Inactive Member13 Apr 2007 7:43 a.m. PST

You often see it in historical novels, a medieval battle is raging, the "hero" shouts, "To me! To me!" Rallying the troops and winning the day, etc. So THAT's what "Montjoie!" means. Hmm. Thanks Eric.

Chned76 Inactive Member13 Apr 2007 8:09 a.m. PST

Happy to help. In fact when we started wargaming Hundred years some time ago, I was intrigued by this "Montjoie Saint Denis" warcry and did some research on it.

By the way, I also came across the English "Tallyho" warcry, which I think comes from French "Taillez Haut!" literally "Cut them high" or "Chop their head off", ie "No Quarter" !

What a delicate period, middle ages !

Personal logo andygamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2007 3:12 p.m. PST

Oy vey!

streetgang6 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2007 8:40 a.m. PST

Ahh, it's all Greek to me….

Eric Noe06 Nov 2007 9:13 a.m. PST

[By the way, I also came across the English "Tallyho" warcry, which I think comes from French "Taillez Haut!" literally "Cut them high" or "Chop their head off", ie "No Quarter" !]

Interesting. I thought "Tallyho" came from medieval deer hunting, and was a cry given by the hunters when the stag was running from the dogs, "taillant haut" meaning it held its head and antlers high as it fled.

foxbat19 Nov 2007 1:24 a.m. PST

Eric, very interesting post. I did not know about the origins of Montjoie, and you get my sincere thanks. I'd like to bring a minor correction to what you wrote about the Oriflamme. It was bright red, and of a triangular form. That's what good writers (Contamine, Favier) are saying, and if I can find it back, I'll give the references of an "enluminure" displaying it.

Daffy Doug Inactive Member19 Nov 2007 1:40 p.m. PST

Coincidentally, and recently (though I can't now find it, dang), I read that Montjoie literally means "my joy." So are we back to square one on what it means?

ravachol Inactive Member25 Dec 2007 3:33 p.m. PST

prounounce it like montain ( not saying the last part : "ten") + joy but instead of oy you pronounce oo (like in two or too or goof or roof) + end it with wah
and it will sound alike french pronounciation…
(ps I'm french)

Daffy Doug Inactive Member27 Dec 2007 6:45 p.m. PST


Btw, French-speaking persons do not agree necessarily, and there's no reason why they should since dialectic differences abound. I asked a Rouen resident how he pronounced Rouen, and the sound was something like "Raw", one syllable. Just north of there, I asked a lady how SHE pronounces Rouen, and she said something very close to "Roo-ah" (impossible to convey in print the nasals and throaty treatment of the vowels here): and claimed that is the correct way.

weissenwolf Inactive Member28 Dec 2007 7:02 p.m. PST

mein gott, mon dieu, that is french the cajuns speak??!!

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