Upcoming Database Updates: A Very Brief Pronunciation Guide

Posted by Alex Slotnick on Sep 29, 2016 6:48:13 PM

As many readers already know, it's update season for a couple key database systems. This morning the PostgreSQL Global Development Group released PostgreSQL 9.6 and published an announcement covering need-to-know details. Similarly, MySQL 8.0 is right around the corner, and as the full numeric uptick to 8.0 indicates, it's bound to contain some significant changes. This is major news for many users of these platforms. In recognition of these shifts in the database landscape, we'll be hosting a webinar on October 25, where Baron Schwartz will look at the changes these updates contain, discussing features such as replication capabilities; more extensibility; improved performance; broader SQL implementation; and more. 

In the meantime, we wanted to take a moment to help prep users in a different way: this blog post is a quick, pocket pronunciation and etymology guide that we hope will assist readers in uttering the vowel-phobic names of these systems with confidence.


The Basics

Here are the most fundamental pronunciations you should try to remember when talking about MySQL or PostgreSQL.

  • SQL = "S-Q-L" (each letter pronounced separately) or "Sequel."
    As in, "Did you hear about the new Star Wars sequel? Wait, is it a prequel? Wait, it's neither?"    

  • MySQL = "My-S-Q-L." Not "My-Sequel."
    As in not, "When I have a son, his name will be 'My Sequel.'"

  • PostgreSQL = "Postgres-Q-L," with "postgres" articulated as a single word and "Q-L" each articulated as their letters, separately. 
    (A special note on writing abbreviations of "PostgreSQL": to match the pronunication of "postgres" as a standalone word, the abbreviation of PostgreSQL ought to be "postgres," not "postgre." This also matches the etymology of "PostgreSQL," as it evolved from a project known just as "Postgres," as explained below.)

How They Got Their Names

It's easy and informative to learn a bit about the history behind each system's name. For instance, MySQL's origins are more personal and heartwarming than one might expect. Though the roots of the "SQL" half of the name are obvious (again, it stands for "structured query language"), the preface "my" actually reflects something far less self-centered it may seem: "My" is actually the name of MySQL creator's Michael "Monty" Widenius' daughter.

This wasn't a one-off dedication, either: Widenius also named his other databases after his children, making MaxDB and MariaDB a little bit more obvious in their origins. (The pronunciation of these are more straightforward too: "Max D-B" and "Maria D-B" respectively.) While these might be unexpectedly sweet etymolgies, one wonders if family gatherings ever get tense when articles like this one pop up. 

PostgreSQL's name is a little more direct in its origins, as it simply uses the prefix "post-" to refer to how it grew out of the database Ingres, retaining the "-gres,"  and therefore meaning "after Ingres." (It existed for some time as a project known only as "Postgres," and the letters Q and L were added later.) To that end, it joins a long history of excellent things whose names came out of "post-" being appended to other non-post terms, such as post-modernism in literature and post-punk

S-Q-L Eloquence

If you've ever wondered about these pronunciations, we hope this very brief guide has come in handy. Have any other terms you frequently hear mispronounced, or do you disagree with any of our recommendations? Let us know in the comments! And don't forget to register for our webinar on October 25, to join Baron Schwartz as he takes a closer look at what's new in PostgreSQL 9.6 and MySQL 8.0.

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