Stein (steen) or stein (stine)

What’s deal with the pronunciation of a name ending in “stein”? Some, like my step-father, pronounce their name “steen” and others pronounce it as “stine.” My step-father says that his pronunciation is gentile while the other is Jewish but I’ve also heard the opposite is true. So what’s the deal, is one pronunciation Jewish and the other not? Where did this confusion originate?

Some people actually spell it -steen, but the German word Stein is pronounced the other way, and Yiddish derives from German. It might have something to do with immigration back when the authorities would have trouble with names.

Similarly, is it Frank or Fronk.

Isn’t the general rule of thumb that “stine” would be used to describe an object (like a beer stein)?

-Stein at the end of a name is usually pronounced “stine” also, by English speakers anyway. If at the end of a name for the other pronunciation, wouldn’t it be just spelled “steen”? Springsteen?

This is correct. If it were pronounced “steen”, it would be spelled “Stien”.

I don’t speak any Yiddish, but from what I’ve read it depends on the dialect.

In the middle ages when Yiddish branched off Middle High German had two sounds that were later merged into ei in German but remained separate in Yiddish, î and ei. In this case we have the latter. Stein already had its ei in Middle High German. Depending on the dialect of Yiddish apparently this developed into shteyn or shtine, the former being considered more “standard” in recent times.

-een is close enough to -eyn that it looks like a plausible anglicization, but I haven’t seen anything that indicates that it is an original Yiddish pronunciation.

In German words (Frankenstein, Ram(m)stein…) it’s always shtine.

“Steen” according to the young Doctor; and by the way, it’s, “EYE-gore” not “EEE-gore”.

“Now where’s that lightning”?

It’s up to the person with -stein in his or her name to say how it’s pronounced. There’s isn’t always a language-based reason for either pronunciation – one person may have come to the US and into an area where all the people pronounced it one way and over the years, took it on.

My married name ends in -stein, and it’s pronounced steen. It’s supposedly German, but I guess it could have morphed over the years. I never, ever correct people who pronounce it stine.

[seinfeld]Yeah, and I’m Jerry Cougar Mellencamp.[/seinfeld]

Snort! Seriously, my last name is about to be Been, so I have bigger things to worry about than the pronunciation of my old one, but it is interesting to find out that it was probably originally pronounced stine.

As I recall from my first-year college German class, words with “ein” are pronounced “ine” and those with “ien” are pronounced “een.” Works for me.

This really made me laugh. :smiley: (I love the film.)

Here’s the rule (rule, no exceptions ever) for German words with the “ie/ei” combination: always pronounce the second letter.

German teachers always seem to have a good sense of humor, and one of the first words you learn is “schießen”–pronounced "shEEsen–which means “to shoot.” This is not to be confused with “scheißen”–pronounced SHYsen–which means “to shit.”

Even though scheiße is about as common in German as “stuff” is in English, teachers always feign horror that you would dare curse in their class. You learn the difference pretty quickly :smiley:

English is sadly lacking in these hard and fast rules, so you’re never going to truly be able to get it right if you’re talking about an American with a German/Jewish name.