How is the word `leitmotiv’ pronounced?

The first syllable is pronounced like the word `light’; the following `o’ is like the `o’ in `so’, `no’, and `go’. The `i’ sounds like the `ee’ in `breeze’, `freeze’, and `sneeze’. The final `v’ is like the `f’ in `fish’, `feel’, and `full’, and the stress is on the first syllable.

`Leitmotiv’ is a German word meaning `leading motive’ or `leading theme’. The word, which comes from the world of music, can also be spelt `leitmotif’. In some movies, for example, whenever a particular character appears on the screen, he is always accompanied by the same piece of music. In the old days, whenever a wicked person made his or her appearance, you always had the snake charmer’s music playing in the background; it was the director’s way of telling the audience that the character was evil. This is an example of leitmotif. Nowadays the term is used to refer to any dominant theme that appears repeatedly in something — book, movie and talk.

*The title of his latest movie could serve as the leitmotif for the actor’s life.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) – May 29, 2006

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