I saw the trailer for Bill Maher's new documentary, Religulous, the other night; yesterday I heard Maher and the film's director, Larry Charles, on Fresh Air. The movie, which opens Friday, is a satirical and skeptical look at the world's religions. Sounds like fun to me.
But I do have this little problem with the title.
According to Maher, "religulous" is a portmanteau of religious and ridiculous, which makes sense. Here's what doesn't: it's pronounced with a soft g: relijulous.
Now, God (or whatever) knows there aren't a lot of hard-and-fast rules of pronunciation in English. Ours is the language, after all, in which though, through, and tough don't rhyme. But, dammit, g before u is hard, not soft. I tried and failed to come up with an exception. Ambiguous. Contiguous. Exiguous.
How difficult would it have been to insert an i after the u? Religiulous makes the pronunciation self-evident. Or what about giving it a hard-g pronunciation? I could live with that, too.
Instead, we get this weird spelling-pronunciation schism. It's heresy, I tell you!