Over the past two weeks there has been a huge interest in Windows Azure, the cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform.
From a terminological point of view, azure is a very interesting word. Both the noun and the adjective denote the bright blue colour of the sky and have a fascinating etymology:
c.1325, from O.Fr. azur, false separation of Arabic lazaward "lapis lazuli," as though the -l- were the French article l'. The Arabic name is from Persian lajward, from Lajward, a place in Turkestan, mentioned by Marco Polo, where the stone was collected. [Online Etymology Dictionary]
Pronunciation, however, can be a bit challenging and even native speakers do not seem to agree on what it should be. Several variations are recorded by English dictionaries, with or without final /r/ depending on rhotic or non-rhotic accents:
The French variation /a'zyr/ is also used by some.
So how should we pronounce azure when it refers to the Microsoft services? You can listen to Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect, first announcing Windows Azure here: it's /'æ??r/.
Licia Corbolante, Italian terminologist