How is the word "leitmotif" pronounced?
Leitmotif is a word most commonly used in music to describe a recurring theme associated with a particular subject. In stage and film, leitmotifs are often used musically to denote a character; each significant character has a specific musical cue that is mixed in with the soundtrack, subconsciously telling the audience the who/what/why of the character's appearance and behavior.
Leitmotif is derived from the German Leitmotiv, or "lead motive," and it is pronounced similarly. The most common pronunciation is "lite-moat-eef," in three syllables. "Leit" is pronounced identically to "light," or "lite" for simplicity. "Motif," instead of the harder "motive" with which it shares the root German word, is pronounced "moat-eef," with an "O" sound on "mot" and a long "E" sound on "if." Click on this link to hear it pronounced through your computer's speakers.
"Late-moat-eef" is also heard in conversation, but is considered a vernacular pronunciation instead of an accepted pronunciation.