Dupuytren Pronunciation

How to pronounce Dupuytren if you are not French

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Guillaume Dupuytren (1777–1835), was the leading French surgeon of his day. His fame was established by being the first to perform many surgical procedures; he made the first excision of the lower jaw (1812), first successful ligation of the external iliac artery (1815) and subclavian artery (1819), first successful treatment of aneurysm by compression (1818), surgical treatment of wryneck (1822), and many other surgical accomplishments.  He also created a four division classification of burns (1832).  And, we would not be too concerned about the pronunciation of this name were it not for the fact he was the first to describe a surgical procedure for a debilitating hand contracture deep in the fascia of the palm that reduces finger movement (1831).

The question, and difficulty, in pronunciation of the word Dupuytren arises from the fact that there are two sounds within this French word that are not used in the English language.  For this reason any of the internet discussions about this topic are spent describing two particular sounds an English-speaking person cannot easily make.   Additionally, in the French language no accents are placed on spoken syllables; each syllable has an equal emphasis, unlike the English language.

Now, diving into the more difficult part of the pronunciation, it is helpful to know that both “u” in “Dupuytren” are sounded.  To do this correctly it is necessary to make a thin sort of “u”, where the tongue attempts to say “ee” while the lips are shaped to say “oo”.  The second “u” is rapidly pronounced, so that the syllable sounds like “pwee”.

If the English speaking reader wants to become really confused about the correct pronunciation of Dupuytren simply go to several of the websites that feature a pronunciation speaker where you can hear the word spoken.  Click on the link in any of these and you will hear a French speaker pronounce the word, and you will note all sound a bit different with each speaker.

When I learned there is apparently a difference of opinion amongst the French how to pronounce Dupuytren, I became much more relaxed about the subject.

Dupuytren pronunciation:  You are only wrong in France

The closest pronunciation I can write using English to portray the French word, Dupuytren, is  something like “du-pwee-trahn,” in which the last syllable is made somewhat grand and soft at the same time by using the nose to make the sound.

But you are most likely an English speaking individual, for whom the intricacies of the French language are of little interest, and you only wish to pronounce the man’s name close enough to being correct that your listener will know what it is you are speaking about.

For this reason when I am speaking to someone about Dupuytren contracture treatment, I know they are looking for help when they come to a “D…ah…ah” word that causes them to slow down and stumble a bit.  This is when I will slowly and confidently tell them, “DU-PA-TREN contracture.”   We are then all happy and ready to learn about Dupuytren contracture treatment.  I have a feeling the good Dr. Dupuytren would not mind at all.

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