I am notorious for my inability to pronounce words properly. This issue is especially problematic when trying to pronounce the names of people like Proust, Sartre and Nietzsche. Not that these guys come up in conversation all that often. Now, in American English there appear to be acceptable pronunciations that are understood and popular, but not the pronunciation that the particular gentleman himself would have used. I tend to pronounce most Japanese words as native Japanese would due to my heritage. Tempura is the classic word that I pronounce differently than most Americans. I tend to mix and match Spanish depending on what the overwhelming popular local usage is. I pronounce Los Angeles just like everybody else.
I’ve tried my American pronunciation of Sartre (I seem to recall my AP English teacher pronounced it this way) and was snootily reprimanded by some Danish dude. I noticed that Steve Carrell had a distinctively different of Proust than I have. So what’s Straight Dope on pronunciation of Dead European Guys that nobody reads, both the acceptable American pronunciation and the actual pronunciation.
Dead Guy; My American guess; My native language guess.
Proust; prowst; proost.
Sartre; sart; sart.
Nietzsche; NEE-chay; NEE-chay.
Thank you for making appear less stupid. By the way, the snooty Danish dude was carrying around a no cost 200 page computer printed one-sided treatise by Sartre in lieu of a lightweight paperback. This was while backpacking in Patagonia. Now who was looking stupid, anyhow?