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This question already has an answer here:

In programming languages like C, Go, and C++, the character pointer data type is denoted using:

char *

What is the correct English pronunciation for this data type?

  1. Is it /kɑr stɑr/, so with the ‹ch› of char pronounced as in character /ˈkerəktər/ and choir /kwɑɪr/?
  2. Is it /tʃɑr stɑr/, so with the ‹ch› of char pronounced as in chair /tʃer/ and child /tʃɑɪld/?

My colleague has been arguing that the correct way is the second version, not the first version.

Who’s right?

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Jan 24 '14 at 16:33

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  • An additional difficulty is the vowel—if you pronounce the ch as [k] (like in ‘character’), do you then also pronounce the a as [æ] (as in ‘character’)? Or do you make the word homophonous with ‘car’? ’Cause /kær/ is not usually a permitted structure for a word to have in English. (I usually ignore this and /kær/, similar to how I pronounce charset as /'kær.set/.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 23 '14 at 17:15
  • I have never heard char * pronounced as "char star", only "char pointer". – Mr Lister Jan 23 '14 at 17:44
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    There's this gem in comp.lang.c infrequently asked questions: Q: How do you pronounce "char"? A: Like the first word of "char *". The accent is generally on the first syllable. – Gnawme Jan 23 '14 at 18:06
  • And do you pronounce ++ and either "pre- or post-increment"? – Jim Jan 24 '14 at 6:26
  • @Jim ++ is just "plus plus", just like * is "times" where appropriate. Oh, and I just realised that /* for comment is "slash star". Sorry for not being more consistent. – Mr Lister Jan 24 '14 at 11:22
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As was pointed out in in a comment to this question, char is already a word in the English language; you should pronounce it the same way:

char /CHär/

In my 20+ years as a C++ developer, I'd say 95% of the developers I've worked with have pronounced char * so the two parts rhyme:

char* /CHär stär/

(Pronounced char-star, which makes me think of a hamburger chef.)

However, software development is such an international community that I'd say that the most important rule is this: Say it in a way that you are understood.

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Such things don't always have a correct answer. In the English language, what works for most people is usually the correct answer - in other words, it's a democratic language.

In this case, saying kar would imply to the listener that you are aware that it's a short form of character. However, is char stands in itself, I've heard folk say ch.ar as in chair.

  • Most people I know pronounce it /tʃa:r/ rhymes with star with a 'ch' like church. That gives "char star" a nice ring. I admit that back in the late 70's I pronounced it /kær/ as short for character, but I quickly came to realize that this was not the accepted way. – Jim Jan 23 '14 at 17:54
  • As time goes on, shortened forms become full words in their own right, so I can see how what started off as /kær/ become the more natural /tʃa:r/. I'd say your own experience embodies the natural evolution of such words in English. – Å Stuart Jan 23 '14 at 18:08
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It is pronounced as character. When you use %c in C language it is a symbol for character.so i believe it is pronounced as character. But in C/C++ books they are pronounce in both way,no differences. However because of the symbol its better to say it as you say character.

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It is pronounced "char pointer" (hard ch) or "pointer to character"

Similarly, char & is "char/character reference" or "reference to character"

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