Weirdo-wacky pronunciation of 'Gorbachev'.

Why is the name of the former boss of the former USSR pronounced ‘GOR-ba-chov’, when his name is spelled ‘Gorbachev’? Isn’t it supposed to be a transliteration, and thus, as close to the actual pronunciation as possible?

“Gorbuchuf” is the correct pronunciation. It’s spelled with the Russian character that transliterates to “e,” but takes more of a schwa-like sound in that position.

No, it’s not a schwa-like sound! In the correct (Russian) pronunciation the last syllable is stressed. Maybe whoever transliterated his name first made it appear more English-like, with the first syllable stressed, and in such a case, "o’ or “e” at the end doesn’t really matter.

Yep. It’s definitely not a schwa and in proper Russian the last syllable is stressed.

Actaully the first o is weak enough to almost be a schaw sound. When I heard this spoken by a native, is sounded kinda like:

gar-bah-CHYOHWF, but I guess it would easier to write it as


The letter that looks like “e” in Cyrillic, when stressed sometimes sounds like YE and sometimes sounds like YO. To help those learning Russian, teaching books will display YO as ë, but in normal Russian print, the Russian reader is just supposed to know which pronunciation is correct for that word.