I have to give my Master's defense soon. I am provided with the name of a "Jury", a professor. And two professors in my 'vowel', one of whom is my advisor. (total 3 on Jury)

What is the definition of this 'vowel' and what does it mean? What is their role in relation to the 'jury'?

My university is also Portuguese and the Portuguese word is Vogal (singular).

  • 3
    What part of the linguistic world are you in? Was this term originally in English? – cag51 Jul 11 '19 at 23:41
  • 1
    I agree with @cag51 ... The word "vowel" here is likely a mistranslation from some other language. – GEdgar Jul 12 '19 at 0:14
  • 1
    This is speculation, but could this be a mistranslation of 'vocal' (e.g. 'vokal', 'vogal')? The word itself would usually translate as 'vowel', but they might have meant the people who are allowed to be vocal (i..e talk) at the defense - e.g. your opponent(s) if the university uses such a system. – Anyon Jul 12 '19 at 1:47
  • 3
    Following your comment to Buffy's answer, I did some searching. I think 'vogal' is short for "Vogal do júri" which Google Translate says means "Member of the jury". That also makes sense given your link - there's a president of the jury, as well as two members of it. – Anyon Jul 12 '19 at 19:47
  • 2
    A Portuguese colleague tells me " “Vogal” (sing.)/“vogais” (pl.) are polysemic words in Portuguese. Deriving from the Latin word “vocale-“ (“that has voice; sound”), “Vogal”/“vogais” means 1. Vowel (in the alphabet) and 2. Board/committee member that can vote (i.e., whose voice can be heard)." – Brian Borchers Jul 12 '19 at 21:16

"Vowel" is likely a translation error from Portuguese, Spanish or another Romance language - probably caused by Google Translate.

In a committee or a board, a "vogal" or "vocal" is a member without a specific role. For example, in a committee I was recently to grade end-of-degree dissertations, the three members were the president (tasked with chairing the committee), the secretary (tasked with writing grades down) and one "vocal", with no specific task besides deciding grades with the other two members.

Another meaning of "vogal" or "vocal" is vowel. Both meanings come from the Latin word for voice or speak, because a "vocal" is a person who just speaks in a committee and vowels are sounds or letters that can be pronounced alone.

I tried to find a translation into English but no dictionary gave me a suitable one. Then, I would translate "vocal" to "board/committee/jury member". Maybe boards are organized in a different way in English speaking countries.

Just for reference, definition of vogal in Portuguese (see meanings 3 and 4), and vocal in Spanish (meaning 5) and Catalan (meaning 2).

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    The Oxford Spanish-English dictionary gives "vocal... B masculine and feminine (de un consejo, tribunal) member". – Peter Taylor Jul 14 '19 at 6:00

I think you have misunderstood the term somehow. On some juries one person will serve as your "advocate" and their job is to support you against unreasonable questions. Often that is the advisor.

But the term "vowel" seems foreign to the readers here.

I suggest that you ask your advisor about the role of each member of the jury and also try to learn what sorts of things you might be asked so the you can prepare.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.