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No. 698: Periodic Table: 56 Barium

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Periodic Table: 56 Barium

First | Previous | 2018-03-30 | Next | Latest

Strip by: David Morgan-Mar

T-Rex: T-Rex presents The Periodic Table:
T-Rex: 56 BARIUM
T-Rex: A silvery alkaline metal, first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1808. He named is from the barite ore using the -ium ending of calcium by analogy.
Utahraptor: Cool! I never knew that about barium.
T-Rex: Wait. You said BEAR-ium. Not BARRY-um.
Utahraptor: That's how everyone says it.
T-Rex: I could have sworn when I was a kid it was Berenstein-bearium.

The author writes:

Yeah, it seems Humphry Davy is responsible for over half the periodic table ending in -ium.

When I looked up Barium in Wikipedia, I was shocked to see the pronunciation listed as /ˈbɛəriəm/ ​(BAIR-ee-əm). I thought: Surely that's wrong. Nobody pronounces it like that.

Several pronunciation guide YouTube videos later, I realised that certainly Americans at least pronounce it that way. But a quick survey confirmed that everyone in a sample of half a dozen Australians pronounces it BARRY-um.

Ours is clearly the superior pronunciation, because then we could have made a Barry Humphries pun instead.

EDIT: I now realise that this is probably caused by the fact that most Americans actually pronounce "beary" and "barry" (and "berry") the same way, in another example of the Mary/marry merger.