Page 1 of 1

J S Bach

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:26 pm
by Bobinwales
This morning when I was listening to the radio I heard the presenter say that the music that had just been played was Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bark (sic). I have always pronounced the ‘ch’ like the Scottish ‘loch’. Or pretty obviously for me, the same as the Welsh ‘bach’ (it means small). What would you say is the ‘correct’ English pronunciation?

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:02 am
by Erik_Kowal
Yours. The other variant is barking up the wrong tree.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:20 pm
by tony h
This post is not to be relied upon :)

I have also heard it pronounced Batch.

You ask which is the correct English pronunciation and then proceeded to give phonic equivalents that exist in Welsh and Scottish but, not obviously, in English. The loch pronunciation is, as far as I am aware, some way off the German pronunciation.


In my mind Bark is the traditional English/British sound. The loch is an attempt to sound more with the classical music "in crowd". The musical equivalent of the false Frenchifcation of Paris to Pareeeee (gay or not).

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:42 pm
by Bobinwales
Precisely the reason I asked the question Tony. We say Cologne, they say Köln, I realise that because the ch pronunciation that I use does not come easily to a lot of people who were not brought up with it, that the more usual English version would not be the one I use. I would guess that something like Baak would be common.

I wonder if this is a good time to bring Van Gogh into the equation. Fan (or Van) Goch (that ch again). Fan (or Van) Gock. Van Go.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:58 pm
by Shelley
Aaah, Bach . . .

-- Radar O'Reilly

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:10 am
by Phil White
In English, we pronounce "Paris" (correctly) as "parriss" and not as "parree". We pronounce "Berlin" as "burrlin", not as "bear lean". We pronounce "Handel" in the same way as "handle" and not as "hendel".

Germans pronounce "London" as "lonn donn" and not as "lunn dunn".

In cases where there is no well established local pronunciation of a proper name, some people bother to try to find out how native speakers pronounce it and usually end up sounding pretentious. I have spent months listening to a friend who grew up in Southern Rhodesia, as it was then, trying to work out how to say "Mnangagwa", and now that I have got it just about right, people think I am just being smart.

For the vast majority of British English speakers, "Bark" is correct. Because I have near-native German, I use a German pronunciation (which is not really like the Welsh "bach". But that is my ideolect. It is not "right". It is the correct German pronunciation, not necessarily the correct English pronunciation.

As far as the correct German pronunciation is concerned, there are two ways of pronouncing the "ch" sound. After close vowels such as "i", "e" and all the vowels with umlauts ("ä", "ö", "ü"), it is a soft sound of escaping air deep at the back of the mouth, but without any great restriction. After open vowels such as "a", "o", "u", it is further back in the throat and rolled, giving a sound much like the one made when clearing one's throat.

The "a" is also further back and is somewhere between an "a" and an "o".

If you want to hear how a veritable master of the German language (Oswald Beaujean) says it, listen to the first twenty seconds of so of this: https://www.br.de/mediathek/podcast/cd- ... ach/107085

But for ordinary English speakers, "bark" is just fine.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:41 am
by Bobinwales
Thanks Phil.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:31 pm
by Erik_Kowal
On the basis that Bach is a particular person's name, and that in principle it is reasonable to expect others to at least attempt to say one's name as one would say it oneself, it is a solecism to make no concessions to the name-owner's pronunciation even if that person is of a different nationality.

Admittedly, J S Bach is now dead and in no position to pronounce an opinion regarding the pronunciation of his name by foreigners, but the principle remains.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:05 pm
by Phil White
Given that the "ch" sound is not available to people who only generally have access to the phonetic resources of the English language, as indeed are the phoneme "mn" that is common in some African languages, or the click sounds of Xhosa, or the rising and falling intonation in many Sino-Tibetan languages, and the rolled "r" of French, or the different rolled "r" of German, or the thousands of sounds and sound combinations that occur in the languages of the world but are largely unknown to ordinary English-speaking folks, you ask a lot. If I, as a competent and curious linguist, have little idea how to accurately pronounce the name "Li Keqiang", you can hardly expect folks without that linguistic background to do so. If I were arranging an official visit and advising a government minister, I would take the time to get as close an approximation as I could in order to pass that on to the person who is about to meet the Chinese premier. Otherwise, I would not bother.

The fact that I have never, since I have been back in the UK, heard "Angela Merkel" pronounced in the way a German would does not bother me. Neither does it bother me that my own name was rarely pronounced correctly in all the time I lived in Germany. For the Germans, I am "Feel-eep Stefan Vite", known as "Feel" to my friends. That'll do me. Nobody else goes under that name in Germany.

Of course, it is polite to do one's best, but given that I am, as you rightly point out, hardly likely to upset the gentleman to whom this thread relates, I shall not lose sleep about it.

As far as I am concerned, the only appropriate form of address were I to have met Johann Sebastian Bach would have been to fall on my knees and worship the ground he walked on, but otherwise maintain an awed and respectful silence.

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:54 pm
by Phil White
And another thing...

I assume from your post that you pronounce "Jesus" (in reference to the historical figure who forms the foundation of Christianity) as "ee-sho".

And I assume that you use the term "Qur'an" (complete with glottal stop) when referring to the holy book of Islam.

And that you use a "v" instead of a "w" in "Beowulf".

And that you say "Knut" instead of "Canute".

And that you pronounce "Alfred" (the Great) as "Elf-raid".

Or "Albert Einstein" as "Albeart Einshtein".

Or "Genghis Khan" as "Tjinghis kachan"...

Shall I go on?

Ed.:

Or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?

Or Imran Khan? (That's a trick one ... As far as I remember, he pronounces it largely in the English manner when speaking English. In Urdu, it sounds to me that both the "k" and the "h" are pronounced. In some broadcasts about him (I am not sure what language - I think it was Hindi), only the "h" is pronounced, and his family is of Pashtun origin, but I have no idea how "Khan" would be pronounced in Pashto. I wonder how I should pronounce that one ... Let me think for a microsecond.)

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:58 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Phil, I admire your vehemence. :D

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:33 pm
by Bobinwales
Image

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:15 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Johan B. Sidehimself

Re: J S Bach

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 5:22 pm
by BonnieL
Shelley wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:58 pm
Aaah, Bach . . .

-- Radar O'Reilly
Thank you! This is often what comes to mind first when I hear Bach's name or music. :D