How to pronounce Prevost: Pree-voh or Pray-voh?

When it comes to the very popular bus brand Prevost, the way you pronounce the name is somewhat of a heated topic amongst those who make a living in or are die-hard fans of the motorcoach industry. 

Let’s take a deeper look at why something as simple as the pronunciation of this brand name is such a hot debate. 

There are two common ways that the name is pronounced: Pree-voh with a long E, or Pray-voh with the e sounding more like an ay given the French Canadian origins of the name. In both pronunciations, the t is silent, again an indication that the name is of French origin. 

I made a video about the history and origin of the brand a while back, and I got many angry comments about how I was pronouncing it wrong.

As a newly minted motorcoach driver just two months into my career, I was as surprised as some of you are right now when I found out just how irritated people can get over the pronunciation of the name Prevost. 

Prevost pronunciation argument

The worst part of it is you can’t win. No matter which way you say it, you’re going to tick off one side or the other. 

I pronounce it the way I was taught to pronounce it and what I got used to, which is Pree-voh, not Pray-voh.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking sides. I’m not saying I’m right and those that say Pray-voh are wrong. I am saying that I can’t possibly say it both ways every time I mention the word, so I might as well say it the way I got used to saying it. 

When it comes to this contested word, there are generally three categories of individuals.

  • Those who strongly believe it should be pronounced Pray-voh.
  • Those who pronounce it Pree-voh.
  • And those who simply don’t really care that much and will say it whichever way they are suggested to. 

I have noticed that those who prefer the pronunciation of Pray-voh tend to be much more insistent that others correct their way of pronouncing the word. They also tend to get more irritated at those who pronounce it Pree-voh or any other variation. One could argue that people who Pray-vos are more passionate about the brand and perhaps more loyal fans.

YouTube vs Google pronunciation

If you search on YouTube about how to pronounce Prevost, adding the accent above the E, it sounds like Pray-voh (with a strong French accent). But if you go to Google Translate and type Prevost into the French language translator with the accent above the E, it’s pronounced with a long E sound but with more of a U ending: Pree-vou. So it seems like even translators can’t even agree.

Every country has something they are proud of and known for – their own culture, their own way of doing things – and it’s flattering when another country likes your idea or design and wishes to embed it into its own culture. 

It’s probably naive to not expect a product to change in one way or another as it adapts and evolves to fit the tastes of a different country that it’s thriving in. 

On a smaller scale, for as long as we have lived on earth, human beings have shared ideas with each other and altered them to better fit our own tastes, whether it be a recipe, an automobile design, or even the pronunciation of a motorcoach brand. 

The name Prevost has evolved in the U.S. and, at some point, our culture developed two popular ways of pronouncing it. Others stick closer to its origins and call it Pray-vou. And some say it closer to their native tongue, Pree-vou.

If you really want to be a critic, everyone in the U.S. is saying it wrong. If you want to stick to its origins and pay homage to the guy who founded the company – Eugene Prevost – and pronounce the brand in accordance with his last name, then everyone should be saying Pray-vou.

But I don’t hear many Americans saying that because we have adopted our own ways of pronouncing the name … all two of them. 

And that is perfectly fine. 

There is enough going on in the world to get worked up about. We should save ourselves the energy and just be OK with however Prevost is pronounced.

I mean, regardless … It’s a really awesome bus. 

Viewers’ thoughts

Here’s what some of you had to say about my take on the Prevost pronunciation debate: 

Prevost: Great video, James! As you said, Prevost is the family name of our founder, Eugene Prevost. He and his descendants – some of whom are Prevost employees today! –- would be the first to say: we only want to provide the Ultimate Experience, so please pronounce as you wish. 

MaFarnz: I’m guessing there’s probably a lot of regional variation as well, at least within the U.S. I fall under the third camp, I don’t really care how it’s actually pronounced, I just like that they’re really good coaches. That being said, here’s a curveball for you. I was taught to pronounce it Pree-vos, with the S. I hear that a lot in the Pacific Northwest.

Beryl White: Excellent video! Maybe you should make a video with the pronunciation of your last name – it’s a little bit on the different side too, LOL, Keep up the great work. You’re beginning to sound more and more like a radio announcer, so now you’ve got a new sideline to fall back on.

Bus & Motorcoach News columnist James Wang is co-owner of Peoria Charter Coach Company and a bus geek who shares his passion for the motorcoach industry on his two YouTube channels, J Wang and Motorcoach World

Read more James Wang’s columns here.

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