‘SQL’ is not pronounced ‘sequel’ ! Where the hell did those vowells come from?

Posted in Pet Hates at 9:59 am by blog

This is something that annoys me greatly, the acronym ‘SQL’ is just that, an acronym, it is not pronounceable as a word because it has no vowels.
Why is it that some unpronounceable acronyms are always referred to as such (eg DVD) and yet others are seemingly acceptable to arbitrarily modify.
There is a comedy TV show called ‘Fonejacker’ where someone makes humorous telephone calls to unsuspecting members of the public, and one of his sketches is posing as a man who tries to arbitrarily modify unpronounceable acronyms so that he can say them, often causing great confusion to the person on the other end of the phone. For instance, he will call an electronics store and ask for a “Doovde player” (DVD player) or perhaps a “Puss 3” (PS3). A few examples of this can be found on Youtube:
And many more can be found simply by searching for ‘fonejacker’.

So why is it considered acceptable to mispronounce ‘SQL’ as ‘sequel’ and yet mispronouncing ‘DVD’ as ‘doovde’ is considered ridiculous? This becomes even more stupid once you consider that ‘sequel’ is an actual word which has a different meaning, whereas ‘doovde’ doesn’t have any other meaning, and could thus easily be used as a word referring to ‘DVD’.


  1. NSK said,

    October 26, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    There was an IBM language long time ago named SEQUEL and made by Chamberlin and Boyce, IIRC, so perhaps people say sequel for historical reasons. I prefer the S-Q-L pronunciation, though.

  2. Sahmeepee said,

    February 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Technically, by calling SQL an acronym you are implicitly endorsing the “sequel” pronunciation. Acronyms are pronounced as words; initialisms are pronounced as letters (see linked uri).

    I have no strong preference for either version, although I probably use “sequel” more often. There’s also a strong tendency to use “sequel” when saying “Microsoft SQL Server”.

  3. Jorophose said,

    March 14, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Hey Bert! Not sure if this is the proper place to put this, but a while back you were asking about VIA’s quad-core monster… Well it seems they didn’t release it, or at least nobody has it anymore. I did find the VT310-DP though, the dual-socket version.

    SQL is probably one of the weirdest acronyms to say… Normally you want to go “Sequel” or “Squewl”. Pronouncing PostgreSQL is a nightmare. 🙁

  4. cory said,

    March 20, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    My biggest annoyance is when people say GUI as Goowy. I don’t care what they think when they say it, but it makes them look retarded and/or buzzword-dropping.
    Also when people say things like “I dropped shell and …”. No, you opened the damn terminal (or switched to a TTY via ALT+F1, etc.)
    SQL is a bad one as well, I don’t like it and hear people use it all the time. That’s like trying to pronounce PHP as Pfffp.
    I can see it now “Yeah, I have mad Pfffp skillz!” …. only to get the response “You’re a poofer? Well, buddy, your sexual orientation is none of my business.”
    /rant — sorry

  5. Dan said,

    April 25, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Words like DVD are pronounced using the letters because they already include the vowel sounds. “Dee-vee-dee”.

    Worlds like SQL do not and so “Ess-qyou-ehl” don’t roll off the tongue quite the same as “See-qwell”.

    It’s not just acronyms that are pronounced differently by different people — there’s a whole slew of them (tomato, potato, roof, Linux).

    In the end you just come off sounding like a douchebag for even complaining about it in the first place. So my suggestion to you is take your nickers off and remove the knot.

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