This pronunciation question seems to have been a contentious subject for Australian birders since the common name of the several species in the genus Gerygone was changed from fly-eater and/or warbler to the genus name, as recommended by the RAOU (Recommended English Names, RAOU 1978).
Some years ago, seeking to address my own ignorance, I posted an enquiry on Birding-Aus requesting informed comment on the subject, only to receive nothing apparently authoritative. Responses suggested all three pronunciations, seemingly based on little more than personal belief, typically arising from usual practice.
I note Jason Polak’s comment that he learned it as “ger-RIG-a-nee” from ‘one of Sean Dooley’s books’, but it is unclear as to whether that is a hard ‘g’ (gur) or a soft ‘g’ (jer).
I own a copy of the wonderful Australian Bird Names – A Complete Guide by Ian Fraser and Jeannie Gray (CSIRO 2013) in which the matter is dealt with as follows:
Gerygone Gould, 1841 [dje-RI-go-ne]: ‘child of song’, from Greek gerugonos, child of song (an echo), geruo, sing (including to sing of or celebrate), and gone, offspring or birth. (Note that due to technical difficulties I have omitted the accents on the Greek letters which are shown in the book.)
I don’t know just how authoritative this is but it strongly suggests that Jer-RIG-oh-nuh (with a soft ‘g’ and perhaps no distinct ‘nee’ at the end) is the correct/preferred pronunciation.
From: Birding-Aus <> On Behalf Of Jason Polak
Sent: Thursday, 27 August 2020 6:21 AM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Thornbill's R Trcky
Indeed, I pronounce it ger-RIG-a-nee, which I learned from one of Sean Dooley's books (actually I learned a lot of my pronunciations from there)!
On 2020-08-26 2:08 a.m., Carol Probets wrote:
> Hi Chris,
> After the Buff-rumped you have (1) Brown Thornbill, (2)
> (3) Yellow Thornbill, and the last one is Mangrove Gerygone.
> And to answer your gerygone question in the 4th paragraph, in my
> experience it’s usually pronounced “jer-RIG-a-nee” (with accent on the
> second syllable) but I’ve also heard it said with a hard g -
> “ger-RIG-a-nee”. The only people that say “jerry-gone” are people who
> have only read the word and haven’t heard other birders pronounce it