Pronunciation of a name

65 posts in this topic

I'm not sure whether the Israelites had an English pronounciation and indeed said: Lee-veye. <_< Anyone know the pronounication in Ivrit? Can one say that pronuncing the name the German way is wrong? Compare the family name Levi/Levy, as in Primo Levi, the Italian writer, or Claude Lévi-Strauss, the ethnologist. No Lee-veye pronunciation either.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been in Munich a while now and my German/Russian wife and I are expecting our first child very soon. We were thinking of Stella for a girl and Malachi for a boy. Do you think they would work with the German pronunciation?

 

It's really tricky because we have to think of the Russian consequences too for example Malachi sounds slightly like the Russian word for milk.

 

Thanks

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stella won't be a problem, but I can pretty much assure you that no one will know how to pronounce Malachi without prompting. Will the stress be placed on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd syllable? Will the ch be guttural (like in the German ach) or not (like in the English cheese)? If it's the latter, expect the boy to be teased a lot for having a name that sounds like a German sneeze (hätschi).

 

If this isn't a problem for you, go for it. And congrats on your soon-to-be family member.

 

Our story: After much deliberation, my wife and I decided to call our son "Neil", because we like the name. Of course, when a German asks his name and we answer, it inevitably becomes "Nils", because that's what Germans hear. My response (which my son now proudly says himself) is, "Nein, nur ein Neil". And of course, you have the complete bumpkins who, when they read it, insist on pronouncing it "Nile", but that's fewer than 10% (probably the same 10% who say "Yown" instead of "John").

 

In short, no matter what you call the kid, you're probably going to have issues somewhere, so in the end just choose what you like.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

In short, no matter what you call the kid, you're probably going to have issues somewhere, so in the end just choose what you like.

 

Exactly

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. The stress is on the first syllable. Its the name from my Irish uncle and he pronounces it Ma-la-key where the Key is like a door key and not an eye. It should be pronounced with a hard K but my wife thinks it will become a lot more guttural like you suggest El Jeffo.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I have looked through names that are easy on the tongue in both languages but I just don't like them. I wanted something special and unique to him. I'm English so obviously I don't associate the name with American Levi's. I see it as the Hebrew name it is. *shrug* I really don't wish to be talked out of the name, it isn't the reason I wrote the post. I just wanted some confirmation to what I already suspected. Now I know I can work around it.

 

Actually, I do think that Levi is a name that works in both languages. You'll just have to live with it being pronounced Leh-vee by Germans. And unless they are really close friends or family, I would just accept that they pronounce it differently. I don't think many will pronounce it weird like your co-worker did.

 

 

Some Germans can't pronounce V without it sounding like W though.

The former Herr Indoors certainly couldn't, which lead to many sarcastic comments from me about Wedgtables and Wehicles.

 

Really? Just in English or also in German? Because my name has two v's in it that are pronounced like the English v (or German w) and I've never had anyone pronounce the v's in my name wrong. And there are many names with a v in it that Germans pronounce without any issues, such as Vanessa, Verena, etc. I think the v/w mix-up only happens when they (we) are trying to speak English.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I've been in Munich a while now and my German/Russian wife and I are expecting our first child very soon. We were thinking of Stella for a girl and Malachi for a boy. Do you think they would work with the German pronunciation?

 

It's really tricky because we have to think of the Russian consequences too for example Malachi sounds slightly like the Russian word for milk.

 

Thanks

 

Stella should be fine, Malachi is a nice name but probably it will make many people wonder about the child's gender in the fist place.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Germans slaughter both my first and last names. Fortunately, they always seem to make an honest effort to pronounce it correctly. My first name is Zachary and I get all sorts of variations on it. The first is the German pronunciation of the letter "Z" with the "tsch" sound and then the Germanization of "ch" in the middle.

 

I find that the German word "Sag" sounds an awful lot like "Zach", so that's where I usually start people. I think it helps to give them some sort of reference they're familiar with, then they're more likely to remember it. Only problem is now I find a lot of people write my name as "Zag", but at least they pronounce it correctly. Maybe I just can't win either way. :unsure:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still don't understand how Germans can mispronounce my name, I mean, it's quite a normal one.

 

when people call out my name it's always "Kah-tuh". <_<

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Obviously I don't expect people to bend over backwards if a name truly is uncomfortable to pronounce the way I want it.

It's not that it's uncomfortable to pronounce. For German native speakers, Leev-eye is no more difficult to pronounce than Lev-ee, but the correct pronunciation in German is Lev-ee, so that's what people are going to say when they read the name. The same is true in French, Italian, Swedish and Hebrew for that matter:

http://www.forvo.com/word/yoel_levi/

 

People will accomodate you if you tell them you want it pronounced in English, but initially you'll always get the German version, and you'll probably have to use the German version as well (or spell it out) when you ask someone to write it down. If, for example, you make a doctor's appointment for Leev-eye, chances are they're going to put down 'Liwei', expecting a Chinese kid to walk through the door.

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I am an odd duck, but I enjoy hearing my name pronounced in different native tongues. My name sounds way sexier in French than in English and in German, it sounds like a nice champagne.

 

Probably no matter what name you pick, you will have this happen. I personally find the misspelling of a name way more irritating than mispronouncing. 99% of the time, when asked my name and they must write it down, I must correct it with the oddball spelling my parents decided would be "cool" at the time.

 

Also, if your son turns out like many kids I know, they end up with some nickname or name variation anyway. My daughter is named Natalie but every since primary school has been called Nads by all her friends. Her great-grandmother always called her Madeline for some strange reason. Me and her father are pretty much the only people that call her by her proper name these days.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

My son, at age 3, was constantly correcting ze Germans that his name is "Car-rrrrl", not "Kahl"

Is that an American/Scottish etc. pronunciation? Don't the English also not pronounce the r in Carl (unless that's just me?)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely the [west coast] American pronunciation (it's a family name on my side). My son is still convinced, now age 5, that it's 2 syllables. :) But his German father says "K/Cahl". I imagine someone from Boston would also say "Cahl, please pahk the cah."

 

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.... Is it SO difficult? :D

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

And they absolutely cannot pronounce our daughter's name Maeve, she's just Mev to them. AGHHH!

 

Have to be honest. I'm an English speaker and have NO clue how to pronounce "Maeve". I've actually never seen the name before. I'm guessing it's Irish by the spelling.

 

I'm not sure who said it earlier, but I don't think it would come off as pretentious at all to ask someone in a foreign land to pronounce your name the way it should be pronounced (to you). I would fully expect a foreigner in the US to correct me if I butcher their name, rather than having to adapt their name to something easy for me to pronounce but wrong to them. I just don't see the issue with it.

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Have to be honest. I'm an English speaker and have NO clue how to pronounce "Maeve". I've actually never seen the name before.

 

 

 

I have NO clue how to pronounce "Maeve".

"Maeve? Oh, behave!" :D

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We spent ages coming up with the kids names so that they would work in both languages. Page after page of names were rejected due to the weird way they would be said in one country or the other. James, no way, didn't want to be Ya-mes, etc. We came up with Lara, Ella and Liam. Lara is harder in American English - there are tons of people who insist on saying Laira (rhyming with hair) or the more common Laura. My son's pediatrician here always says "Laim" or something like that, and I haven't had the courage to correct him!

 

With my name, Kathi - I tell people here usually that it is Kah-ti, otherwise I get the German pronunciation of "th" and am called Kezzi...

 

Kate - that is the way Germans would say Kate - with 2 syllables...they don't have the silent "e" at the end...I know it must be annoying, but sometimes we have to give up a losing battle!!!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

And here I was thinking that you were a woman.

 

How about Toytown for a name?

 

I am female. That's why I said I was going to be called that ... and then I was born. "Oh! It's a girl. What shall we call it?" For four days, I was 'it'.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I'm guessing it's Irish by the spelling.

You have guessed correctly :) One of the reasons I love this name so much is because of all it's vowels.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't stress out too much about a name being pronounced differently in different languages, unless it ends up really sounding weird. I grew up bilingual, with my name pronounced differently in each language so it was always normal. Now with German I have yet a third slightly different variation. What's nice is that when someone calls out my name then I immediately know which of the three languages I should use to respond. It's a nice little advantage to have.

 

(or else it explains my multiple personalities :lol: )

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you'll have trouble with Levi, but then you can with practically any name. Son is called "Harry". Germans pronounce him either German way, as "Hurry", which is fine or as "Herry", which I can't stand, but is their attempt at English "a".It's also of course an Opa name in Germany but son doesn't seem to mind.

 

Daughter is called "Eiske" which most Germans like and of course can pronounce, but daughter gets driven made by the fact that English-speakers haven't got a clue how to pronounce it. I now wish very strongly that we'd given them both a second name so that they could have a choice.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now