Most commonly mispronounced scientists' names

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  • #36
fresh_42
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And the Kuiper belt is even difficult for German speakers. More because of ignorance than because of incapability. I erroneously thought it would be "Keuper" (German transliteration), have heard "Kuhieper" (German transliteration) on tv, only to find out that it is according to Wikipedia "Köiper" (German transliteration). I have written the German sounds since I didn't even want to try to find anything similar in English.
 
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StatGuy2000
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Actually, the Google link you provided does not give the correct pronunciation of Tycho Brahe's name.

The key is to understand the orthography and pronunciation rules of Danish. The "y" is a sound similar to the French "u" or German "u" with an umlaut symbol ".." above it -- roughly sounds like the sound of "ee" (like in the English word "feet") with your mouth shaped like you are saying the English word "you".

The "ch" sound is similar to the Scottish sound "ch", German sound "ch" or Russian sound "kh".

Furthermore, in Danish, "ahe" sounds like a lengthened "a" sound in the word sound "father".

See the link below.

https://forvo.com/word/tycho_brahe/
 
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  • #38
pinball1970
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Actually, the Google link you provided does not give the correct pronunciation of Tycho Brahe's name.

The key is to understand the orthography and pronunciation rules of Danish. The "y" is a sound similar to the French "u" or German "u" with an umlaut symbol ".." above it -- roughly sounds like the sound of "ee" (like in the English word "feet") with your mouth shaped like you are saying the English word "you".

The "ch" sound is similar to the Scottish sound "ch", German sound "ch" or Russian sound "kh".

Furthermore, in Danish, "ahe" sounds like a lengthened "a" sound in the word sound "father".

See the link below.

https://forvo.com/word/tycho_brahe/
Ok so there are very different pronunciations there, German, Danish, Swedish and English.
He was Danish so that is the way we should say it? Regardless of our native language?
I tried to say it and it did not sound right because we have no equivalent sounds in English. This was alluded to in post 3 and 4. What is the etiquette?
This applies to place names and borrowed words too?. (This has caused arguments in my life.)
 
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fresh_42
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What is the etiquette?
A guest professor - and I don't remember which corner of the world he came from - said:
"Scientific English is broken English." In the end, it is all about communication. And after three pints ...
 
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  • #40
TeethWhitener
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Peierls is tough in English. It ends up sounding like “piles,” but inevitably most people try to squeeze an r sound in at semi-random locations.

Ramanujan is accented on the second syllable (RaMAnujan, as opposed to RamaNUjan, which seems to be a common pronunciation among Westerners).

Chandrasekhar is accented on the third syllable. Also, it’s his given name, but his culture uses patronymics instead of family names, so he is properly referred to as “Chandrasekhar.” (Kind of like Björk, which, incidentally, rhymes with “work, not “pork.”)

My favorite is Wannier. Half the people I know pronounce it with a German accent (VanEER), half pronounce it with a French accent (wanYAY). Some poor confused individuals do both (vanYAY). I wanted to know for myself whether he was French or German…it turns out he was Swiss. His given names are clearly English (Gregory Hugh). But he’s from Basel so I have to assume his name is pronounced vanEER.
 
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  • #41
fresh_42
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But he’s from Basel so I have to assume his name is pronounced vanEER.

He has an interesting vita:
"Wannier studied at the University of Leuven (1930/31) [Dutch], the University of Cambridge (1933/34) [English] and the University of Basel [German], where he received his doctorate in 1935. In 1935/36 he was an assistant at the University of Geneva [French] and went to Princeton University as an exchange student in 1936/37 [English].

And Basel is a three-countries-corner, so French isn't really off the table.
 
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  • #42
pinball1970
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He has an interesting vita:
"Wannier studied at the University of Leuven (1930/31) [Dutch], the University of Cambridge (1933/34) [English] and the University of Basel [German], where he received his doctorate in 1935. In 1935/36 he was an assistant at the University of Geneva [French] and went to Princeton University as an exchange student in 1936/37 [English].

And Basel is a three-countries-corner, so French isn't really off the table.
Bar-sel lovely place. I pronounced it Barl till I ended up there with work. Not sure why I pronounced it like that.
Place names same issue.
 
  • #43
DrClaude
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Bar-sel lovely place. I pronounced it Barl till I ended up there with work. Not sure why I pronounced it like that.
Place names same issue.
Maybe you used the French name for the place: Bâle.
 
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  • #44
pinball1970
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Maybe you used the French name for the place: Bâle.
Without checking as a Brit, the options are:

Bale - like hail
Bali -As in Ba-li hi - the song and place
Baahl- As in Gnarl
Bale -As in ballet
Barely -As in the crop

Baahl is not the one I would have gone for, ballet would have got my vote.
 
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  • #45
StatGuy2000
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Ok so there are very different pronunciations there, German, Danish, Swedish and English.
He was Danish so that is the way we should say it? Regardless of our native language?
I tried to say it and it did not sound right because we have no equivalent sounds in English. This was alluded to in post 3 and 4. What is the etiquette?
This applies to place names and borrowed words too?. (This has caused arguments in my life.)
My general rule is to always pronounce names to as close an approximation to how the name would be pronounced in the native language of the ethnicity or nationality of the individual of concern.

So in the case of Tycho Brahe, who was Danish, I try to pronounce the name in line with Danish pronunciation to the best of my ability. So I would pronounce it "Tewko Bra a" or Tewkho Br a".

I apply the same principle to other names as well.
 
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  • #46
pinball1970
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My general rule is to always pronounce names to as close an approximation to how the name would be pronounced in the native language of the ethnicity or nationality of the individual of concern.

So in the case of Tycho Brahe, who was Danish, I try to pronounce the name in line with Danish pronunciation to the best of my ability. So I would pronounce it "Tewko Bra a" or Tewkho Br a".

I apply the same principle to other names as well.
Yes agreed. Especially if I am actually there. It is a sign of respect and an indication of 'look I'm trying but this is not easy for me!'
If people laugh a lot then that is fine.
 
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  • #48
zdcyclops
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This is an "English speakers only" thread. Most other languages do not mispronounce names as English speakers do. To their excuse must be said that they normally simply lack the appropriate sound in their language. Making Bach=back jokes simply don't work for anybody who is capable of pronouncing "a" correctly and "ch" at all.

I dare to claim that you can list every single foreign scientist's name in this thread.
It is worth pointing out that Dutch orthography can be very tricky for English speakers to get right, as the diphthong "uy" or "ui" in Dutch does not exist in English (as is the Dutch "g" sound).

Consider the Dutch pronunciation of Christiaan Huyghens in the click:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/ChristianHuygensPronunciation.ogg
The sole purpose of language is communication. There is no such thing as proper pronunciation. There is no governmental body or international organization that set rules or standards for how words are pronounced.
Names of people should be pronounced however the name holder wants. The only thing that really matters is that the people you speak to understand what you are saying. Publishers of dictionaries gather information on words by surveying what is common now and was common in the past. The contact publisher of the printed word, and look for new words changes in meaning and spelling. They do not make decisions in these matters, just report on the state of the language as it is today.
 
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  • #49
StatGuy2000
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The sole purpose of language is communication. There is no such thing as proper pronunciation. There is no governmental body or international organization that set rules or standards for how words are pronounced.
Names of people should be pronounced however the name holder wants. The only thing that really matters is that the people you speak to understand what you are saying. Publishers of dictionaries gather information on words by surveying what is common now and was common in the past. The contact publisher of the printed word, and look for new words changes in meaning and spelling. They do not make decisions in these matters, just report on the state of the language as it is today.
@zdcyclops, I both agree and disagree with your statement above.

I agree with you that languages are living, evolving mechanisms of communication, and that pronunciation and vocabulary are subject to evolution and change over periods of time.

However, here are my disagreements with you:

1. First, there does exist governmental bodies in certain countries (e.g. France, Iceland) that set rules on pronunciation of words, as well as other aspects of the national language in question.

2. Second, even where there does not exist a formal governmental structure, there are agreed upon conventions (a consensus, if you will) among language speakers of how certain words or names are to be pronounced in a given language, which is deemed to be "correct". For example, in Italy, it is an agreed upon convention that the letter "z" in Italian is pronounced like the English equivalent of "ts". So the Italian word "pizza" is pronounced "peetsa".
 
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  • #50
pinball1970
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1. First, there does exist governmental bodies in certain countries (e.g. France, Iceland) that set rules on pronunciation of words, as well as other aspects of the national language in question.
Yes. Also Yorkshire. As a person over this side (of the Pennines ) one has to tread carefully.
If I mess up Slaithwait so spectacularly as a chap from the North West, what chance does a Polish person have?

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/her...e-names-and-how-to-say-them-correctly-3552314
 
  • #51
fresh_42
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I wonder by which rules names are pronounced correctly (as natives do) or are translated. E.g. we say New York in English, London in German, and I have never heard that an English (or German) speaking person swallowed the s in Paris.
 
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