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What's the history of the non-official pronunciation of SQL?

I hear it every so often, "In sequel server...", and for some reason I cringe every time. Maybe it's because SQL doesn't mean sequel, it means Structured Query Language. However, I hesitate to mention anything because it is a little bit nitpicking after all.

I do see the resemblance between SQL and sequel, but it's still wrong, is it not? Where does this way of phrasing come from?

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marked as duplicate by StuperUser, Rook, Jonas, Anna Lear Sep 15 '11 at 13:31

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At least related: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/8588/… –  delnan Sep 15 '11 at 13:22
    
I used to cringe at 'sequel' too, but then I talked to a friend who used to do tech support for SQL server at Microsoft and he pronounces it 'sequel'. (I still prefer S-Q-L though ;) –  Nate Koppenhaver Sep 16 '11 at 18:06
    
for most people I talk with, "sequel server" means the product sold by Microsft, while S Q L means the language. –  StevenV Sep 16 '11 at 18:24
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I assume this is due to the history of SQL. According to wikipedia, SQL was formerly known as SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language) until it had to be changed because SEQUEL was already a trademark of another company.

SQL was developed at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce in the early 1970s. This version, initially called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language), was designed to manipulate and retrieve data stored in IBM's original quasi-relational database management system, System R, which a group at IBM San Jose Research Laboratory had developed during the 1970s. The acronym SEQUEL was later changed to SQL because "SEQUEL" was a trademark of the UK-based Hawker Siddeley aircraft company.

Moreover, I pronounce SQL "sequel" because it's easier for the tongue, you can say it more fluently.

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I believe this is also related to the fact that QUEL was the name of the other prominent query language back in the dark ages of RDBMS evolution. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QUEL_query_languages –  Malachi Sep 15 '11 at 14:27
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This is a good question and that name is of rather historical meaning:

SQL was developed at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce in the early 1970s. This version, initially called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language), was designed to manipulate and retrieve data stored in IBM's original quasi-relational database management system, System R, which a group at IBM San Jose Research Laboratory had developed during the 1970s.[8] The acronym SEQUEL was later changed to SQL because "SEQUEL" was a trademark of the UK-based Hawker Siddeley aircraft company.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL

After CS School I used to say ESS-QEW-ELL. But in a professional environment it just didn't seem right and made me start calling it "SEQUEL" - And it's so much easier to say, too.

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1  
Hmm, this is difficult. We both have the same answer. How about you honestly pick a random number. If it's even, I'll delete my post, if it's odd, you delete your post. –  Falcon Sep 15 '11 at 13:30
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Saying Ess-Que-Ell is a burdensome mouthful. That's why I and nearly everyone else just relaxes and pronounces it sequel.

Who cares?

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2  
And has anyone confused it with a sequel? If so, they don't know what SQL is either. –  JeffO Sep 15 '11 at 13:30
    
Exactly. It is so utterly ubiquitous within our industry that there is absolutely no ambiguity when someone says, "sequel." I mean, yeah, you are occasionally going to hear someone around the office say something like, "Empire was the greatest sequel of all time," and then the other guy says, "No way! Khan was the great sequel, you philistinic moron." And then the guy walking by is going to say, "Don't you wish Serenity had a sequel?" And the first two just roll their eyes at hime and give him the cold shoulder. –  Adam Crossland Sep 15 '11 at 13:45
    
Answering a "where did this come from?" question with "who cares?" is kinda rude and not even remotely helpful. If you really must say it, a comment would be a better choice. –  Anna Lear Sep 15 '11 at 14:20
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