Looking Out To Sea

Char is (probably) not short for Character

I was reading an online discussion recently about the pronunciation of “char” as it appears in C source code. For the non-programmers, the keyword “char” is used to indicate a character (eg, letter or number) in code, like this:

char my_initial = 'D';

Some people pronounce this keyword as it appears, char (as in to blacken by burning). Others pronounce it more like car with a hard /k/ since it’s short for character. But it occured to me that the vowel sound in car and in character are different — at least they are in my accent!

I looked them up and they appear different in IPA rendering too: /ɑ/ in car and /a/ in character.

I’m personally fond of pronouncing it like char, but if I wanted to go with the alternative could I learn to pronounce car with a different vowel sound? How weird would I sound?