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View Poll Results: How do you pronounce "Van Gogh"?
"Van Go" 249 83.00%
"Van Goff" 22 7.33%
"Van Goth" 1 0.33%
"Ven Hokh" 5 1.67%
Other 23 7.67%
Voters: 300. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05-27-2011, 05:18 AM
Smapti Smapti is offline
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How do YOU pronounce "Van Gogh"?

As discussed in this thread.

When you attempt to speak the name out loud, what is the pronunciation that most easily finds its way to your lips?
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  #2  
Old 05-27-2011, 05:28 AM
shantih shantih is offline
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Van Go. I know that's a totally flat American pronunciation, but I would feel silly and affected trying to pronounce it as the artist himself would have. When my (German) husband said the name to me for the first time, I actually didn't understand him for a moment because he said it so differently from the way I was used to hearing it.
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  #3  
Old 05-27-2011, 05:49 AM
grimpixie grimpixie is offline
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I pronounce it "Van Goch" with the ch rolled like the scottish "loch" - but that's my inner Afrikaaner coming through...
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  #4  
Old 05-27-2011, 06:47 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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In the U.S. it is pronounced Van Go. When I went to school in Scotland, I didn't quite know what to do with the pronounciation Van Goch (rhymes with loch) which was used by a lot of students from a lot of nationalities there. I tried it back home and felt like a supercilious twit.
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:01 AM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is offline
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Koreans pronounce it Go-heu, sort of. I just say Go, the American way.

Last edited by HazelNutCoffee; 05-27-2011 at 07:01 AM..
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:14 AM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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Van Goff. I would feel like a total arse saying "Vahn Hoccch" or whatever.
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  #7  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:17 AM
phantom lamb phantom lamb is offline
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People from around here (the Balkans) pronounce it "Van Gogg" so I pronounce it like everyone else not to sound like a pretentious ass. But I "accidentally" voted "Ven Hokh" because at first I thought the poll wanted to know the correct Dutch pronounciation. I'm slow today.
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  #8  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:46 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimpixie View Post
I pronounce it "Van Goch" with the ch rolled like the scottish "loch".
That's how I say it, too. Of course, as a Hebrew speaker, it isn't that hard for me.

Here's QI's take on the subject.

Last edited by Alessan; 05-27-2011 at 07:49 AM..
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  #9  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:50 AM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Van Goff for me. It's close enough to the correct translation (slightly anglicised) without being totally different like the American "Van Go".

I'd never heard anyone say the American version till I was about 20 or so and someone said it on a US TV show. I was amazed to realise that an entire country pronounced it completely differently!
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  #10  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:52 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Dammit, another poll where I agree with the majority.

You know what he said when his girlfriend told him she realized how passionate his love was when he cut off his ear?
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  #11  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:57 AM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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Van Go. I know it's not right, but I feel silly saying it any other way.
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  #12  
Old 05-27-2011, 07:59 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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Other: to be exact, like the native Dutch (lived there for 12 years): Van Choch (both pronounced like the ch in "loch").
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  #13  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:18 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft Holmes View Post
Other: to be exact, like the native Dutch (lived there for 12 years): Van Choch (both pronounced like the ch in "loch").
So, to the uninitiated, basically like saying the word "van" and then clearing your throat?

I can't get my voice back there...
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  #14  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:34 AM
yojimbo yojimbo is offline
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Van Goch

But I lived in A'dam for a while so know that the accurate Dutch way is ~Ven Hokh but say with a Dutch accent.
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  #15  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:36 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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I'm a Brit and I always say Van Goff. Most people I know would also say it that way.
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  #16  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:47 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Brit - I used to say Van Goff until I worked with a Dutchy and asked him how to pronounce it. Now I say Ven Hokh even though I know it sounds pretentious.
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  #17  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:49 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by shantih View Post
Van Go. I know that's a totally flat American pronunciation, but I would feel silly and affected trying to pronounce it as the artist himself would have. When my (German) husband said the name to me for the first time, I actually didn't understand him for a moment because he said it so differently from the way I was used to hearing it.
I remember when I said the name Milhaud to my French conducting teacher. He laughed out loud at my American pronunciation, which sounded pretty much like Milhouse.
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  #18  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:53 AM
Shakester Shakester is online now
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I used to say Goff, but I asked a Dutch person and was told that it's Goch (like Loch). So Goch it is.
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  #19  
Old 05-27-2011, 09:13 AM
gregorio gregorio is offline
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Van Go

Just like Jonathan Richman.
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  #20  
Old 05-27-2011, 09:35 AM
Tom Scud Tom Scud is offline
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Oddly enough, Van Go for the painter, Van Goff for the filmmaker.
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  #21  
Old 05-27-2011, 09:38 AM
Dave Hartwick Dave Hartwick is offline
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Smith
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  #22  
Old 05-27-2011, 09:43 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Can't we just all get Van Gong?
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  #23  
Old 05-27-2011, 10:18 AM
gwendee gwendee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAF1138 View Post
Van Go. I know it's not right, but I feel silly saying it any other way.
As do I . And really, anyone to whom I'm likely to be saying "Van Gogh" is most used to hearing "Van Go" and might think I was being snooty and pretentious. (Or that I was stupid for saying it wrong.)
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  #24  
Old 05-27-2011, 10:23 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
Van Goff. I would feel like a total arse saying "Vahn Hoccch" or whatever.
Same here and Van Go sounds like I am trying to say it like a Frenchman would, which makes no sense whatsoever.
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  #25  
Old 05-27-2011, 10:56 AM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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Voted Van Goff, but actually Van Goch. I'm english, and I think most people here would use one of those. Van Go just sounds a bit silly to be honest.
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  #26  
Old 05-27-2011, 01:42 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
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Van Go. How many Americans here remember Deputy Dawg's friend, Vincent Van Gopher?
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  #27  
Old 05-27-2011, 02:21 PM
MickNickMaggies MickNickMaggies is offline
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I usually give it the 'Ven Goch' version. Close enough to the British 'Gof' that I don't stick out, but not quite 'Van Go'.

Interestingly, people seem to have maybe heard it as 'Gof' in Britain, as Waldemar Januszczak (a British art critic) showed a church register/list from his time in Brixton with the name rendered as 'Gof'. Januszczak points to this inability to say/spell the name from hearing it as the reason he starts signing as 'Vincent'.

The 1991 French film, Van Gogh, by Maurice Pialat has the most different pronunciation I've ever heard- 'ven Goh-geh'.
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  #28  
Old 05-27-2011, 08:38 PM
Polerius Polerius is offline
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It looks like the Dutch pronunciation is like this , but anyone in the US who doesn't pronounce it like this , comes off as very pretentious.
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  #29  
Old 05-28-2011, 01:33 AM
Marlitharn Marlitharn is offline
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Van Go. I didn't even realize there was a different pronunciation until I heard that guy who played Slartibartfast saying Van Goch (like loch) in a Doctor Who episode last year.
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  #30  
Old 05-28-2011, 02:21 AM
Polerius Polerius is offline
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Originally Posted by Marlitharn View Post
Van Go. I didn't even realize there was a different pronunciation until I heard that guy who played Slartibartfast saying Van Goch (like loch) in a Doctor Who episode last year.
It's funny that many people in this thread are saying "Van Goch (like loch)" because it starts bringing into question how "loch" is pronounced. I thought "loch", as in "loch ness monster" was pronounced "lock ness monster" in the US, i.e. similar to /ˈlɒk/ in IPA.

Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia say that loch is pronounced either as /ˈlɒk/ or /ˈlɒx/.
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  #31  
Old 05-28-2011, 03:16 AM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Originally Posted by Polerius View Post
It's funny that many people in this thread are saying "Van Goch (like loch)" because it starts bringing into question how "loch" is pronounced. I thought "loch", as in "loch ness monster" was pronounced "lock ness monster" in the US, i.e. similar to /ˈlɒk/ in IPA.

Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia say that loch is pronounced either as /ˈlɒk/ or /ˈlɒx/.
The sound is really not so difficult, it's just a bit unusual to American ears. It does sound the tiniest bit like clearing your throat, but it's actually just an "h" with more sound. That is, incidentally, also how "Bach" is pronounced.

We all had to learn the "th", at least try and give us the "ch" in return (although I see that doing so might come out pretentious, just like an American saying "Aluminium" might be looked at sideways).
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  #32  
Old 05-28-2011, 06:37 AM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polerius View Post
It looks like the Dutch pronunciation is like this , but anyone in the US who doesn't pronounce it like this , comes off as very pretentious.
So if a British person were in the states and said "Van Goff" (as they would be apt to do) what would most Americans think? That he was stupid/wrong, that he was trying to be pretentious, or that that is how it's pronounced in his country?
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  #33  
Old 05-28-2011, 06:45 AM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
So if a British person were in the states and said "Van Goff" (as they would be apt to do) what would most Americans think? That he was stupid/wrong, that he was trying to be pretentious, or that that is how it's pronounced in his country?
Most American's is a hard one. Depending on where you are the pronunciation would either be not noticed because that's just how the Brits talk, blinked at a bit because you were being pretentious, or met with momentary (possibly permanent) incomprehension. Stupid/wrong probably wouldn't be in the running though.

Last edited by NAF1138; 05-28-2011 at 06:45 AM..
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  #34  
Old 05-28-2011, 06:47 AM
A. Gwilliam A. Gwilliam is offline
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Another Brit using the standard British pronunciation: Van Goff.
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  #35  
Old 05-28-2011, 07:36 AM
ctnguy ctnguy is offline
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Originally Posted by grimpixie View Post
I pronounce it "Van Goch" with the ch rolled like the scottish "loch" - but that's my inner Afrikaaner coming through...
Ditto. And ditto.
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  #36  
Old 05-28-2011, 09:03 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Dammit, another poll where I agree with the majority.

You know what he said when his girlfriend told him she realized how passionate his love was when he cut off his ear?
WHAT?

Van't Hoff. At least trying to get somewhere near the Dutch. But I'd mostly have to translate for my fellow Englishmen anyway. Fortunately, I've spent most of my life doing that.
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  #37  
Old 05-28-2011, 09:34 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
So if a British person were in the states and said "Van Goff" (as they would be apt to do) what would most Americans think? That he was stupid/wrong, that he was trying to be pretentious, or that that is how it's pronounced in his country?
I'm wagging wrong or pretentious. I think most Americans would be surprised to learn that there is a different pronunciation of Van Gogh in Britain.
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  #38  
Old 05-29-2011, 08:04 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
So if a British person were in the states and said "Van Goff" (as they would be apt to do) what would most Americans think? That he was stupid/wrong, that he was trying to be pretentious, or that that is how it's pronounced in his country?
Other: they wouldn't know who you were talking about. If they did figure it out from context, they would most likely consider it wrong. It takes most people a little bit to make the connection that some words are pronounced that differently.

And the American pronunciation isn't how we pronounce gh, but just that we tend to drop the [x] sound if it is soft at the end of words, and replace it with [f] if it's strong.
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  #39  
Old 05-29-2011, 08:59 AM
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Van Go.

I'd never heard any other way until I saw this from Woody Allen's Manhattan.
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  #40  
Old 05-29-2011, 09:12 AM
Katriona Katriona is offline
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Originally Posted by NAF1138 View Post
Van Go. I know it's not right, but I feel silly saying it any other way.
Me too. In fact, I'd never heard it pronounced any other way until the Doctor Who episode where he was featured.
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  #41  
Old 05-29-2011, 09:16 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I think most Americans would be surprised to learn that there is a different pronunciation of Van Gogh in Britain.
I think this is true. At first it would be "Dude - who?!" and then, because it sounds like a funny, throat-clearing pronunciation, there would be some awkward silliness "really?! Van Ghochhhhh?! No way!?!?" with an attempt to make the other person seem foolish. But, over time, a bit of "hmmm, maybe I am the clueless, Yank-o-centric boob here" creeps in, followed by trying out that more Euro/cosmopolitan pronunciation in a variety of settings, followed by teasing by their U.S. friends, followed by simply getting okay with the fact that we pronounce it one way here but folks do it differently in other countries, so quit trying to be what you're not and enjoy the variety.

Not that I have any experience with that.
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  #42  
Old 05-29-2011, 09:39 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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To bs more precise, trying to pronounce it in the authentically Dutch manner would strike one as pretentious. "Van Goff" would sound at first like a joke. The first time I heard it, I thought my leg was being pulled.
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  #43  
Old 05-29-2011, 09:42 AM
Švejk Švejk is offline
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To be sure, there's no /ff/ sound in there, so Goff does not really approximate the real pronunciation. As was indicated above the correct Dutch pronunciation has both /g/ and /gh/ as a guttural, and a short /o/ sound (to rhyme with something between hut and hot) so that's what I say when I speak Dutch, but when speaking English I would not do that, and just go with Ven Go. Makes things a lot easier I find.

Last edited by Švejk; 05-29-2011 at 09:43 AM..
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  #44  
Old 05-29-2011, 09:57 AM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
I think this is true. At first it would be "Dude - who?!" and then, because it sounds like a funny, throat-clearing pronunciation, there would be some awkward silliness "really?! Van Ghochhhhh?! No way!?!?" with an attempt to make the other person seem foolish.
I guess I'll just have to make sure to avoid the name entirely next time in the US, then, because there's no way I'll remember to change by pronounciation to fit in.

Luckily, it's not something that comes up in conversation very regularly.
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  #45  
Old 05-29-2011, 11:00 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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I have never heard it said any other way than "Van Go".
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  #46  
Old 05-30-2011, 04:09 AM
kombatminipig kombatminipig is offline
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I can understand the fact that the name has been anglicized (as with many other words containing guttural sounds) to alleviate pronunciation for most English speakers, but why is it seen pretentious to attempt to pronunce somebody's name correctly? Would a Dutchman be treated that way in the states?

What about a Ukrainian pronouncing the word 'borscht' without the 'T', or a Lebanese asking for hummus with a guttural 'H'? Do you get a pass for pronouncing a name correctly when it originates from your native language?
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  #47  
Old 05-30-2011, 04:54 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by kombatminipig View Post
I can understand the fact that the name has been anglicized (as with many other words containing guttural sounds) to alleviate pronunciation for most English speakers, but why is it seen pretentious to attempt to pronunce somebody's name correctly? Would a Dutchman be treated that way in the states?

What about a Ukrainian pronouncing the word 'borscht' without the 'T', or a Lebanese asking for hummus with a guttural 'H'? Do you get a pass for pronouncing a name correctly when it originates from your native language?
From my point of view it is because it creates an unnatural break in the flow in speech. I've had to deal with it since learning a second language (Swedish), which I work in these days. If I refer to London in Swedish I don't adjust my pronunciation to a flatter English-style and say "Luhn-Duhn", I go with the flow of the sentence and pronounce it like a Swede, "Lon-Don". Similarly, despite knowing that the place is called Göteborg and being able to pronounce it, I still say "Gothenburg" if speaking English, because saying something like "I was in Göteborg last weekend" seems a bit precious, a bit "ooh, look at me, I know the correct name".
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  #48  
Old 05-30-2011, 05:32 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimpixie View Post
I pronounce it "Van Goch" with the ch rolled like the scottish "loch" - but that's my inner Afrikaaner coming through...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctnguy View Post
Ditto. And ditto.


Almost thirded, I use the same sound for the start and finish :
faŋˈxɔx

Fun gh-o-gh

That first bit is as important as the guttural G, BTW. It's pronounced "Fun" like the House, not "Van" like the vehicle. "Van" + xɔx sounds even more wrong to me than "Fun" + go does.
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  #49  
Old 05-30-2011, 05:45 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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It actually comes out of my mouth as Ven xox, (the hard h sound in loch) very close to the Dutch way, but I'd change it to Van Gox so that people around me would understand who I meant.
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  #50  
Old 05-30-2011, 08:11 AM
kombatminipig kombatminipig is offline
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From my point of view it is because it creates an unnatural break in the flow in speech. I've had to deal with it since learning a second language (Swedish), which I work in these days. If I refer to London in Swedish I don't adjust my pronunciation to a flatter English-style and say "Luhn-Duhn", I go with the flow of the sentence and pronounce it like a Swede, "Lon-Don". Similarly, despite knowing that the place is called Göteborg and being able to pronounce it, I still say "Gothenburg" if speaking English, because saying something like "I was in Göteborg last weekend" seems a bit precious, a bit "ooh, look at me, I know the correct name".
I don't think the comparison is apt though, because you're comparing a local and a foreign name for a place (compare with Nihon/Japan). Both Gothenburg and Göteborg are proper names for the city in question, depending on the language being used. Likewise, when talking about the Swedish currency in English I (as a Swede) will call them 'crowns' instead of 'kronor', because using the plural conjugation '-or' just doesn't make sense in English.

van Gogh on the other hand was a person, and certainly would himself corrected anybody mispronouncing his name (as most of us do). 'van Goff' was simply not the man's name.

Disclaimer: Until this thread I pronounced it 'van Goch', I now consider myself all the wiser.
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