Goethe (was: Which and Falaqa)

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Thu Dec 5 17:14:12 UTC 2002

Huh?  "Goethe" is not a "confusing semi-german spelling" that was "chosen"
by some American.  It's the way the name is actually spelled in German.
It's a foreign name, not a loanword subject to the naturalization processes
such words undergo in the recipient language.  While it would be
unreasonable to demand that no one who doesn't have a command of German
should be allowed to utter the name, it is not unreasonable to expect such
a person to approximate the German pronunciation to the best of his or her
ability.  E.g., it's reasonable to accept a syllabic "American r" as an
honest attempt to approximate the first vowel, but it's also reasonable to
expect a t, not a th, for the second consonant, since no American should
have any problem pronouncing the t in a way that's indistinguishable from
the German pronunciation.

Peter Mc.

--On Thursday, December 5, 2002 6:49 AM -0800 James Smith
<jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> Yes, I think Goethe is an example of a similar
> affectation: I guess no one could decide whether to
> simply pronounce it in English as the spelling "Gothe"
> would indicate, or to render an approximation such as
> "Gutta" or "Gurtta", so a confusing semi-german
> spelling was choosen and we were left to stumble over
> the pronunciation!

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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