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July 2003
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Pronouncing Ptavv

Larry Niven's first novel was A World of Ptavvs. Some of my readers may wonder how to pronounce "Ptavv".

I assume that the a is flat as in savvy. Some of my readers may be under the impression the "pt" sound is not pronouncable. Not so, although it is not a combination used in English. To produce this sound:

Purse your lips. Stick the point of your tongue slightly outside your mouth with your lips pressed against it. At the same time press your tongue against your upper teeth and the front of the roof of your mouth. Pronounce the word -- you have to do it "explosively". You will note that your lower jaw will drop slightly. Practice this in private. Have a towel handy. You will find that you can pronounce the "p" sound and the "t" sound at the same time as a dipthrong. After some practice you may be able to pronounce ptavv in public without getting arrested.


This page was last updated July 10, 2003.

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July 2003
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