Jules Verne - pronunciation

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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Dec 03, 2004 5:05 am

I was watching the TV this evening when the French sci-fi pioneer's name was mentioned, and it occurred to me that in English, the pronunciation is always anglicised; i.e. "jools vurn" rather than "zhuel vaihrn" as it would be in French. As far as I know, this is not the case with most personal names. Why has M. Verne been singled out for this treatment?
Submitted by Simon Beck (London - England)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 5:20 am

Simon, have you ever asked someone who really speaks the languages from where those personal names come? The anglicized (for Britons: anglicised) pronunciation of non-English names is the norm, not the exception.
The correct pronunciation of "Jules" cannot even be represented using English spelling. "Zhuel" is just a desparate attempt, where 'ue' stands for a vowel (not a diphthong!) that doesn't exist in English and is pretty difficult for native English speakers to pronounce. Roughly the same applies to 'zh' as used above, albeit to a lesser extent in that the pronunciation of the French 'j' has some similarity with the English 'sh.'
I have yet to hear my name correctly pronounced by a native English speaker who doesn't fluently speak German or at least Alemannic. The same applies to most non-English names, personal names and place names alike. When in the USA, I often do not even realize that a name I hear on TV or in a conversation with friends actually is French, Italian, German, Greek, Swedish or whatever, not even if it is a name I know very well in its original language.
Nobody in ancient Rome would have understood "Augustus" the way it is pronounced in English, let alone "Julius Caesar" or "Jesus Christ." They wouldn't even have known whom you were speaking about.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 5:34 am

Perhaps, but I don't hear Fermat being pronounced "FUR-mat" or Jean-Jacques Rousseau pronounced "jeen-jakes roo-soo" very often. Oh yes, and it's "hahns yerkh HROH-ten-behr-guh" from "VAHL-'n-shtaht". Or near enough.
Reply from Simon Beck (London - England)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 5:49 am

One other thing; in English, the spelling of Julius Caesar is (with the exception of the "J") identical with the Latin. In French he is called Jules César. The Latin pronunciation, rendered in English phonetics, would have been something like "YOOL-yus KY-sar".
Reply from Simon Beck (London - England)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:03 am

Thanks Simon, and congrats. Yes, definitely near enough, but I virtually never hear anything else than "Hans Yorg Ruthenburger."
You are right, there are languages such as French that adopt foreign names more easily than others, even in spelling. Popes' names are "nationalized" in most languages anyway: Iohannes Paulus = Giovanni Paolo = Jean-Paul = Johannes Paul = Juan Pablo etc.. As for English - it's difficult to tell why certain foreign names get mercilessly anglicized while others are pronounced fairly correctly, as the ones you mentioned above. Very popular names are less prone to mutilation, but not always.
By the way, only few people from English speaking countries pronounce Rousseau's first name correctly, except those who have learned French as a second language. They may not pronounce it "jeen," but it's still far from the original. But then, over here even TV anchors and professional radio reporters often say "Mitchigan," "Tchicago" and "Worchesters-hire," to name just a few of the worst examples.
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:17 am

What I found striking recently was that in the USA, Hurricane Jeanne was universally referred to as 'Hurricane Jeen'. I never once heard it pronounced correctly, i.e. the French way. Equally, the well-known French actress is known here as 'jan muh-ROW' (with a hard J), even among those who ought to know better.

While it would be difficult to defend the proposition that all American educators _must_ offer at least one foreign language and insist that their students take it, it is a pity that the vast majority of Americans leave school almost entirely ignorant of the world beyond their doorstep. Learning a foreign language is an excellent way of also discovering that people living elsewhere have different customs, different cultures, and different ways of thinking, and that they can be as valid as one's own.

However, I expect that the mentality encapsulated in the injunction 'God bless America!' will remain unchallenged for the foreseeable future, and a hundred years the majority of Americans will still be calling van Gogh 'van Go', confusing Danish with Dutch, and asking for tomato ketchup in French restaurants.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:29 am

So Hurricane Jeanne was a French hurricane? Well, I wish she had stayed in France where she belonged then. Fine talk coming from a people who pronounce Juan JEW-un. So I suppose it's a mistake that the character on Gilmore Girls is PAIR-us rather than Pahrhrhr-EE (or however you write one of those rolling glottal r's). BTW, everyone classy here in Texas says fur-MOT not FUR-mat.

I had a least favorite CS professor who put on airs (his favorite word was instanciate, but that's another story) and was always going on and on about his girdle. It was sometime before we clued in that he meant Goethe.
Reply from Russ Cable (Dallas, TX - U.S.A.)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:44 am

Russ, Interesting, that’s exactly how I was told to pronounce Austrian-born U.S. mathematician Kurt Gödel’s name (of Incompleteness/Undecidability Theorem fame). Sure your CS teacher wasn’t referring to him?
______________________

Ken G – November 9, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Jules Verne - pronunciation

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:58 am

"BTW, everyone classy here in Texas says fur-MOT not FUR-mat."
Doesn't matter. They may be "classy" but they're STILL wrong. A close approximation to the correct pronunciation would be "faihr-MAH". No "fur" and no hard "T" on the end.

Reply from Simon Beck (London - England)
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