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  #1  
Old 11-04-2010, 08:30 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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Pronunciation of the surname "Boehner"

I would pronounce this name "Boner." But U.S. Senator John A. Boehner pronounced it "BAY-ner."

Does anyone know what country this surname comes from, how it is pronounced there and how it is normally pronounced in the U.S.? If the normal pronunciation is not "BAY-ner" then does anyone know who in John Boehner's family changed the pronunciation (i.e. was it he or one of his ancestors)?
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2010, 08:35 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Clearly a Germanic language, with the "oe" being an englishification of the o-umlaut. So it's not quite the long-"o" sound, nor the long-"a" sound.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:44 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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The German pronunciation is closer to 'Burner' where the ur sound is sort of swallowed. Not easy for the non-teutonic to correctly pronounce.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:06 AM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Agreed that it is German. The German pronunciation is close to a long A. To my ear, it sounds like a cross between a long A, and a "eh" sound.

It is not a true case of anglicizing the name, like Smith for Schmidt, or Vienna for Wien would be. "oe" "ae" "ue" are standard substitutions in German when the umlauted vowels are not supported by a font. The Germans I know will make the substitution without a second thought, just as writing an Eszett (beta) for "ss". These vowel combinations do not occur in German, so the implied umlaut is unambiguous.

It goes back at least to the days of telegrams. Even though the Germans had Morse code characters for the umlauted vowels, the receiving telegrapher of an international cable likely wouldn't know them, and would not have them on his mill. It is worth noting that in international Morse code, "E" is the fastest possible letter, being a single dit, so there was very little bandwidth increase for sending two letters instead of the umlauted vowel.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:11 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is online now
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I would just add to this that in a speech by Adm. Hyman Rickover, he brought up the name [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe, and he pronounced it as "gate-uh."
  #6  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:23 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Jimmy Kimmel did a whole schtick Tuesday night about Boner vs. Baner
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:07 AM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
The German pronunciation is closer to 'Burner' where the ur sound is sort of swallowed. Not easy for the non-teutonic to correctly pronounce.
So What you're saying is that people who address Mr. Boehner will need to do some swallowing?
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:26 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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If memory serves, when he first won the post of minority leader, he had been opposed by a Rep. Stoner.
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:27 AM
Capitaine Zombie Capitaine Zombie is offline
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Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
So What you're saying is that people who address Mr. Boehner will need to do some swallowing?
I'm mentally 12 years old and this one made me laugh.

BTW, is there any possibility in the future for a Boehner vs Wiener debate? That would be one hot debate.
  #10  
Old 11-04-2010, 10:55 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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In American English, the "bay" sound [eɪ] is not unheard of as a substitution for the German [] vowel (spelled in German orthography as oe or .

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Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
It goes back at least to the days of telegrams. Even though the Germans had Morse code characters for the umlauted vowels, the receiving telegrapher of an international cable likely wouldn't know them, and would not have them on his mill. It is worth noting that in international Morse code, "E" is the fastest possible letter, being a single dit, so there was very little bandwidth increase for sending two letters instead of the umlauted vowel.
It goes back a lot further than that. The two-dotted umlaut originated as a tiny minuscule e written above the letter. In traditional German script, the lower-case e looked like two vertical lines connected by a thin diagonal - very much line a minuscule n. It gradually reduced to two lines and then two dots. See -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umlaut_...c%29#History_2
  #11  
Old 11-04-2010, 11:12 AM
RitterSport RitterSport is offline
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IIRC, Matt Groening, cartoonist and genius, also pronounces his name Graining.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:17 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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This is also related to Wayne Newton's abominable pronunciation of Danke Schn, usually rendered as Danke Schoen. There is a street outside St. Louis called Spoede that the locals call "SPAY-dee."

I do not speak German but I have been to Germany and the sound is a bit like an "o" but with slightly pursed lips. To a non-German speaker this might sound a little like an English long "a", but if you've ever heard a German say, "danke schn" I don't see how you would ever think it sounds like "danke shayn." Here is a page with two native speakers saying it.

The vowel sound in Boehner should be the same.
  #13  
Old 11-04-2010, 11:26 AM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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In the eighties everybody in Ohio referred to him as Boner; including himself. But that shouldn't be a surprise if you come from that area of Ohio, they pretty much bastardize all foreign names. For example, people look at you strange if you don't pronounce the Ohio town of Versailles as Ver-Sales. And they will correct you until you pronounce the correct way. Likewise Lima is pronuced Lie-Ma and Russia is pronounced Roo-sha. So it's no wonder the guy just gave up and let the hicks call him Boner; I've known other Boehner's in Ohio that gave up as well. I don't care for SOB, but I have other bones to pick with him and don't don't need to resort to name calling.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:28 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I do not speak German but I have been to Germany and the sound is a bit like an "o" but with slightly pursed lips.
It's like an [e] -- similar to the vowel in "fate" -- with rounded lips. So, really, Boehner's pronunciation is a logical choice.

Quote:
The vowel sound in Boehner should be the same.
You can't make people who don't speak German pronounce things like the do in German.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:30 AM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
IIRC, Matt Groening, cartoonist and genius, also pronounces his name Graining.
Or as Matt was fond of explaining in his earlier books (School is Hell, Love is Hell, Life is Hell); rhythms with complaining.
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:47 AM
BubbaDog BubbaDog is offline
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I grew up in a German inhabited section of St. Louis with kids named Koenig (KAY-nig), Poehling (PAY-ling) and Boehm (BAME).

There was one hold out name Roeder (ROW-der)
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:37 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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I'm still puzzled how you get that "Bay-ner" is closer to Boehner/Bhner than "burner" is. Unless you pronounce "bay" different than I do?
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
The German pronunciation is closer to 'Burner' where the ur sound is sort of swallowed.
Think of it this way: Bu[r]ner, same vowel as in Burner, but omit the r.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:41 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Before I answer that question, I am curious to know where you're from, because a difference I. Our accents might be relevant.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:43 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
I'm still puzzled how you get that "Bay-ner" is closer to Boehner/Bhner than "burner" is. Unless you pronounce "bay" different than I do?
The "ay" for "oe" pronounciation trips me up too. I have a passing familiarity with German and would tend to pronounce "Boehner" as if it had an "", which to me is more like "burner" (without the "r" sounds as I have a non-rhotic accent).

I knew about Matt Groening's pronunciation, but remember thinking how counterintuitive it was when I first heard it.
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:53 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is online now
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Originally Posted by BubbaDog View Post
I grew up in a German inhabited section of St. Louis with kids named Koenig (KAY-nig). . . .
Which is also how "Star Trek's" Walter Koenig pronounces his name.
  #22  
Old 11-04-2010, 12:58 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
In the eighties everybody in Ohio referred to him as Boner; including himself.
OK this is what I was wondering about. So he used to call himself "boner." When did he change it to "bay-ner"?
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:00 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Boehner should do a buddy cop show with Ken Cuccinelli.

Boner and the Cooch
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:01 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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OK this is what I was wondering about. So he used to call himself "boner." When did he change it to "bay-ner"?
When he started to notice the snickering.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:01 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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In my German classes this is how we were taught to pronounce a vowel with an umlaut: Shape your mouth for the vowel, and pronounce 'eh'.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:09 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
In my German classes this is how we were taught to pronounce a vowel with an umlaut: Shape your mouth for the vowel, and pronounce 'eh'.
That wouldn't work for or

- is an unrounded vowel [ɛ] as in English "bet."

- comes in short and long --
-- short is [ʏ], which is a rounded [ɪ] as in English "bit."
-- long is [y], which is a rounded [i] as in English "beet."

- also comes in short and long --
-- short is [], which is a rounded [ɛ] as in English "bet."
-- long is [], which is a rounded [e], which isn't in standard American or British English, but sounds to us like the vowel in"bait" [beɪt]
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:12 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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It was a general guide for pronunciation. Specific pronunciations were practiced in class. Also, there were regional differences. (e.g., the Bavarian 'ish' instead of 'i(ch)'.)
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:05 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Don't certain German dialects pronounce the sound of the umlauted o more like "ay"? I think I recall hearing this about, maybe, southern German dialects. As to Wayne Newton's danke shoen, seems to me his pronunciation might reflect the way the Yiddish would be pronounced, no? Same goes for "Bei mir bist du shoen."
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:26 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaDog View Post
I grew up in a German inhabited section of St. Louis with kids named Koenig (KAY-nig), Poehling (PAY-ling) and Boehm (BAME).

There was one hold out name Roeder (ROW-der)
In German the spellings 'oe' and '' are different ways of rendering the O-Umlaut sound, which is approximately what you get when you hold your lips round as if to pronounce a long O-sound, but otherwise shape and position your tongue to pronounce 'A' as in 'gate' or 'take'. The spellings are not interchangeable, and the '' spelling is a lot more common in German today. Different families with these names might spell them either way, with the usual expectation that other people will spell the name their way when referring to them. For instance, you wouldn't spell Wolfgang Goethe's as 'Gthe'.

The "PAY-ler","KAY-nig", etc. pronunciations just reflect the Anglicization of the pronunciation, since we don't have the // sound in English.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 11-04-2010 at 02:27 PM..
  #30  
Old 11-04-2010, 02:36 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
The spellings are not interchangeable, and the '' spelling is a lot more common in German today.
In some personal names, oe cannot be rendered as .

However, can always be written as oe, so long as it is done consistently throughout the text.

The same one-directional relationship is true of /ae and /ue.

Similarly, can always be written as ss, but not the other way around.
  #31  
Old 11-04-2010, 02:54 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A.
In my German classes this is how we were taught to pronounce a vowel with an umlaut: Shape your mouth for the vowel, and pronounce 'eh'.
That wouldn't work for or
Sure it works for , as I'll illustrate below.
Quote:
- is an unrounded vowel [ɛ] as in English "bet."

- comes in short and long --
-- short is [ʏ], which is a rounded [ɪ] as in English "bit."
-- long is [y], which is a rounded [i] as in English "beet."
The 'rounding' of the vowel is analogous to what happens with . I was taught to say "ee" while holding the lips round as if to say "ooh".

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 11-04-2010 at 02:54 PM..
  #32  
Old 11-04-2010, 03:00 PM
joebuck20 joebuck20 is online now
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We should get it over with and decree that from now on he shall be known as Boner. If nothing else, it'll give us something to snicker about over the next couple of years.
I also decree that Carl Paladino switch out the "d" in his name for an "m".

Last edited by joebuck20; 11-04-2010 at 03:02 PM..
  #33  
Old 11-04-2010, 03:06 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
The "ay" for "oe" pronounciation trips me up too.
It does me too. Can you imagine what I go through, with the commonness of German names in America, the pronunciation of 99% of which is radically different from proper German? On the other hand it's unreasonable to expect these people not to have anglicized their names to some extent, and my own mangled Dutch name is another example. Besides, you can't tell people how to pronounce their own names. Someone here even posted a Pit rant about it once.
Quote:
I have a passing familiarity with German and would tend to pronounce "Boehner" as if it had an "", which to me is more like "burner" (without the "r" sounds as I have a non-rhotic accent).
Interestingly, I used to have a very old English/German phrasebook, intended for speakers of either language wanting to learn the other. For Germans, the sound rendered by "er" or "ur" was explained as being close to //. It does indeed seem to be a fairly apt comparison, depending on which English accent you're thinking of. It wouldn't work with most American accents.
Quote:

I knew about Matt Groening's pronunciation, but remember thinking how counterintuitive it was when I first heard it.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 11-04-2010 at 03:08 PM..
  #34  
Old 11-04-2010, 04:04 PM
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I have relatives named Schoenherr and live near a road of the same name. It's that stupid "long A" sound for the lot of them.

I've seen a pronunciation guide say that the name of the mathematician who had a famous incompleteness theorem is pronounced like "girdle" - it likely assumed that all speakers had a non-rhotic accent, and if they didn't, it was the best alternative since English never uses that vowel outside of the "er" cluster. In fact, pronouncing that vowel gives me the impression of a young child who hasn't learned to pronounce 'r' correctly yet (and I was one of them - I had to go to a speech therapist to learn when I was in grade school) - that vowel sound implies that cluster so strongly that I hear the "mistake" clearly.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:17 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
The 'rounding' of the vowel is analogous to what happens with . I was taught to say "ee" while holding the lips round as if to say "ooh".
It's not entirely clear to me what you're saying here. But I was responding to the comment that implied that all the umlauted vowels were based on "eh," which I'm assuming is meant to be [ɛ]. If you assume that there is a total of six umlauted vowels, only two of them (short and short ) and perhaps a third (long ) can be said to be related to [ɛ] in any way. The other ones -- long , short , and long -- have nothing to do with an "eh" sound.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:20 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I'm starting to cotton on to the idea that this pronunciation might have been influenced by Yiddish pronunciation, as Sal Ammoniac mentioned.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:29 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
It's not entirely clear to me what you're saying here. But I was responding to the comment that implied that all the umlauted vowels were based on "eh," which I'm assuming is meant to be [ɛ].
It's difficult to convey sounds on a message board. When I was in school nobody'd ever heard of IPA. I never heard of it until I saw it on Wiki. I thought of including 'ee' as well as 'eh' in my post, but I didn't feel like it. My post was not meant to be a definitive answer, but only an example of how we were taught in German I. As I said later, the correct pronunciations were practiced in class.

Pedantry is often at odds with real life. (Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with pedantry -- I use it myself on some subjects.) On a message board where actual sounds cannot be used, mouth shape and 'eh' or 'eh' (or 'ay' or whatever) is close enough to demonstrate a difference between 'BAY-nor' and 'Bhner'. Especially when you consider that different people who follow the guideline will come out with different sounds when they try to play at home.
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:35 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Pedantry is often at odds with real life.
Actually, when it comes to pronunciation, I think the general trend of messages on this board tends to prove that lack of what you call pedantry leads to discussions that go nowhere.
  #39  
Old 11-05-2010, 12:27 AM
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Part of the confusion of this is variations in how we speak English. I suspect that if I were a New Yorker, or Bostonian, I would say Burner very close to the way a German would say Boehner. Having been raised in Denver, though, Burner is far from the mark. I guy from Boston I used to work with had not too thick of an accent until he was telling me about his vacation in Mahthus Vinyuhds. If you do that to the R, then "Burner" is very close to the German.
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:40 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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He'll always be a Boner to me.
  #41  
Old 11-05-2010, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
Which is also how "Star Trek's" Walter Koenig pronounces his name.
Or martin Landau's "Commander Koenig" on Space:1999. They consistently pronounced it "Kern-ig" but with excellent Germanic vowels: kind of "KyeoRn-InG".

Hey, maybe Commander Koenig and Chekov were related!
  #42  
Old 11-05-2010, 04:14 AM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Yeah, I would have called it "Boner" but I can see why he wouldn't want that.

People can pronounce their own names however they want. I once knew a Gagne who pronounced it "guhNAY." The next Gagne I met pronounced it "GONEyuh." I forget how the third one did it, but it was still different. (Funny, it seems like such an obscure name, yet I have run into three unrelated people bearing it.)

I also know a RYEorden and a reeORduh. Both spelled Riordan.

I also know someone who can't put her last name on a license plate in her state. Her last name is Bonk. And there's not a lot of alternative ways to pronounce that, either.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
Before I answer that question, I am curious to know where you're from, because a difference I. Our accents might be relevant.
I'm Swedish with a passing knowledge of German.
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Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
However, can always be written as oe, so long as it is done consistently throughout the text.

The same one-directional relationship is true of /ae and /ue.
As it happens the origins of '' (''), '' and '' ('', '') are 'ae', 'ue' and 'oe' shortened by handwriting monks in the same way that 'et' became '&' and 'at' became '@'. In Scandinavian we also have 'aa' turned into '' and French has 'os' turned into '' ('hostel' > 'htel' > 'hotel').
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:44 AM
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Boy, you Americans have some weird pronunciations My native language is one of the Germanic ones, and I use the following pronounciations:

"oe" ligature: (German, Swedish) / (Danish, Norwegian) / (French) like the "u" in "burner".
"ae" ligature: (German, Swedish) / (Danish, Norwegian) like the "a" in "can" (or US English, "can't" as well).
"aa" ligature: (all Scandinavian languages) like the "o" in "forecast"
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:55 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Si Amigo writes:

> . . . Likewise Lima is pronuced Lie-Ma and Russia is pronounced Roo-sha . . .

I grew up twenty-five miles from Lima. Yes, people in Lima, Ohio pronounce the name of the city like Lie-Ma and not Lee-Ma. It's just like everybody else pronounces it in the term "lima beans". Whenever they have occasion to talk about Lima, Peru, they pronounce it as Lee-Ma. On the other hand, I don't recall anybody ever pronouncing the word "Russia" as "Roo-sha". They call it Ru-sha. Undoubtedly there are a few people in Ohio who say Roo-sha, but there are other Americans who say that too. Using an Americanized pronunciation for an American city (which happens to differ from the standard American pronunciation for a foreign city) isn't the same thing as mispronouncing the standard American pronunciation for a foreign city.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:59 AM
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I've never understood why people think [] and [e] sound so different. I guess the result is somewhat close to [ɜ], but I don't hear it as any further than from [e].

If anything, it's closer to the sound of ugh, when used to display disgust.
  #47  
Old 11-05-2010, 06:13 AM
Floater Floater is offline
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Believe me, they are two totally different sounds.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:16 AM
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The Economist's language blog writes on Boehner.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:46 PM
C. Montgomery Burns C. Montgomery Burns is offline
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Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
For example, people look at you strange if you don't pronounce the Ohio town of Versailles as Ver-Sales. And they will correct you until you pronounce the correct way.
Hey! We pronounce it Ver-sales in Illinois, too! I'm from the town of Versailles. It was names after a town in Kentucky, also pronounced Ver-sales, by the founders of the town. That is the way it's pronounced! It has nothing to do with France.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:53 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by 2square4u View Post
Boy, you Americans have some weird pronunciations My native language is one of the Germanic ones, and I use the following pronounciations:

"oe" ligature: (German, Swedish) / (Danish, Norwegian) / (French) like the "u" in "burner".
"ae" ligature: (German, Swedish) / (Danish, Norwegian) like the "a" in "can" (or US English, "can't" as well).
"aa" ligature: (all Scandinavian languages) like the "o" in "forecast"
The reason you can equate these sounds us that your pronounciation of English is different from ours.
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