In response to my guide on how to say the names of German philosophers, I had a request to do one for French philosophers. Personal experience tells me that giving pronunciation tips for French words or names is a good way to get into an argument – probably with another English speaker who is very confident in French pronunciation but shouldn’t be (although French speakers are also known for having little leeway for deviation from what each considers the best French, even though it varies quite a bit from person to person). But what the heck. It’s fun. And at the very least, it will help English speakers who really aren’t sure. So here you go: the full names of Abélard, Althusser, Bachelard, Barthes, Bataille, Baudrillard, de Beauvoir, Bergson, Bourdieu, Brunschvicg, Camus, Canguilhem, Cavaillès, Cixous, Comte, Debord, Deleuze, Derrida, Descartes, Diderot, Duhem, Foucault, Gilson, Kojève, Lacan, Levinas, Lévi-Strauss, Lyotard, Macherey, Malebranche, Merleau-Ponty, Montaigne, Montesquieu, Poincaré, Ricœur, Rousseau, Sartre, Saussure, Tocqueville, Voltaire, Vuillemin, and Wahl.
For my latest pronunciation tip, I’m focusing on something that has given me some issues over the years: the names of German philosophers. One can’t grow up in Canada without seeing their names just all over the place, of course, and yet no one seems to know how to say many of them. So I called in some help. Now you too can find out the German way to say the names of Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (von) Schlegel, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, Jakob Friedrich Fries, Wilhelm Dilthey, Ernst Alfred Cassirer, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl, Karl Theodor Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas. Sing along, now!
Pronunciation tip: Canada’s provinces, territories, and main cities
July 1 is Canada Day, and so in honour of that, I’ve done a video about the names of all the provinces and territories and their capitals and largest cities. If you’re not Canadian and intend to talk about Canada, you will probably find this useful. If you are Canadian and know how to say all these names, you may still find this useful because I say where all the names are from. I bet you don’t know! Hint: It’s mostly rivers, lakes, and Queen Victoria’s family.
It’s been too long since I’ve done a pronunciation tip. So here, to make up for that, are 23 of them. It’s all 23 of Mozart’s operas and opera-like works, with the original language and what you might say in English. I’ve done it in reverse chronological order, since people usually care more about the later ones.
If you’re just looking for a specific one, here are the times for all of them:
0:41 Die Zauberflöte
1:04 La clemenza di Tito
1:23 Der Stein der Weisen
1:44 Così fan tutte
2:58 Don Giovanni
3:39 Le nozze di Figaro
4:02 Der Schauspieldirektor
4:31 Lo sposo deluso
4:50 L’oca del Cairo
5:06 Die Entführung aus dem Serail
5:44 Idomeneo, re di Creta
6:20 Thamos, König in Ägypten
7:06 Il re pastore
7:21 La finta giardiniera
7:49 Lucio Silla
8:06 Il sogno di Scipione
8:26 Ascanio in Alba
8:47 Mitridate, re di Ponto
9:04 La finta semplice
9:18 Bastien und Bastienne
9:37 Apollo et Hyacinthus
9:46 Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots
There’s probably not a person who knows this word who wasn’t confused about the pronunciation the first time they saw it. It’s OK, though: there are many different accepted and established pronunciations. But there is one that, in my experience, is more reliable than the others. Here’s a bit of talk-head-gemony to lay it down for you.
There are, probably unsurprisingly, many people who are unsure how to pronounce the name of the opera Turandot (and its title character). There are also, also (alas) unsurprisingly, people with very strong opinions on the subject, and they don’t all agree. So it’s my turn with the facts. No one sleeps until we sort this out!
Over the holidays I was in Banff, where I spent an important part of my formative years, and I thought I should do a pronunciation tip. What did I choose? Wapiti? Norquay? Kootenay? Mount Lefroy? Nope, something trickier: Banff.
Oh, you know how to say “Banff.” You do! No one gets it wrong, unless they’re doing it on purpose or don’t speak English comfortably. But the odds are very good that you don’t know how you’re actually saying it. Guess what: This is really a phonology tip!
Patrick Neylan, Eeditor of business reports. Permanently angry about the abuse of English, maths and logic. Terms and conditions: by reading this blog you accept that all opinions expressed herein will henceforth be your opinions.
The Economist "Johnson" language blog
In this blog, named for the dictionary-maker Samuel Johnson, correspondents write about the effects that the use (and sometimes abuse) of language have on politics, society and culture around the world