It's his centenary this year!
My Mum always used to say 'golf' is pronounced 'goff', and that's the way Sir John Betjeman, reading his poem about a place he loved in North Cornwall, pronounced it - the first time I've ever heard it pronounced that way on TV!
Nick
1 2
My Mum always used to say 'golf' is pronounced 'goff', and that's the way Sir John Betjeman, reading his poem about a place he loved . . .

Particular yes: goff for golf was the preferred pronunciation of the post-Victorian upper classes, sometimes thus recorded in the early decades of the phonograph etc. It went out of use (deemed affected or aristocratic) approx. during the WW2 period.

General yes: English spells a number of words with an L that is not sounded orally, e.g. almond, palm. By contrast American English often pronounces every written letter, thus sounds the L in golf, calm etc. but exceptionally not (or not yet) in half.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
My Mum always used to say 'golf' is pronounced 'goff', ... his poem about a place he loved . . .

Particular yes: goff for golf was the preferred pronunciation of the post-Victorian upper classes, sometimes thus recorded in the ... every written letter, thus sounds the L in golf, calm etc. but exceptionally not (or not yet) in half. ~

Thanks - on the 'goff' pronounciation, why do Americans pronounce Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas!) as Van Go?
On another newsgroup, someone even thought that Michael Gough should be pronounced Michael Go.
Surely, it's Van Goff and Michael Goff (phonetically).

I wonder how Kirk pronounced it in his film?
Nick
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Thanks - on the 'goff' pronounciation, why do Americans pronounce Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas!) as Van Go? On another newsgroup, someone even thought that Michael Gough should be pronounced Michael Go. Surely, it's Van Goff and Michael Goff (phonetically).

Being Dutch, the name Gogh is pronounced by its owners with a guttural G (or two slightly dissimilar Gs) that does not exist in the English or British repertoire of phonemes (spoken sounds.) Because the name Van Gogh occurs commonly among Britons discussing pictures, Britons usually pronounce it Van Goff (and a minority pronounces it Van Hoch, displaying a closer familiariity with Dutch.)

Conditions in America appear different, where Van Gogh's name occurs in discourse just as often but acquaintance with Dutch is negligible. It appears Americans settled by consensus more than 50 years ago on the pronunciation Van Go. (I suspect radio or TV may have played a role in fixing this convention.)
The other NG contributor with an opinion about Michael Gough appears ignorant of the prime general convention, which is that people carrying a particular name are the only authorities on how it should be pronounced. Names are not subject to rules or guidelines for pronouncing common nouns, and no rule says that prononciation
of Name # 1 in a specific way means that similarly- spelled Name # 2 must therefore be pronounced in a similar way. The proper name Gough rhymes with OFF but the proper name Slough rhymes with BOUGH but this is a coincidence, i.e. is constrained by no rule.

The reason for the relative independence of proper names from general linguistic guidelines may reflect that (in Britain) oral usage antedated written English, and is thus relatively privileged, i.e. immune from rules proposed in later centuries.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
My Mum always used to say 'golf' is pronounced 'goff', ... his poem about a place he loved . . .

Particular yes: goff for golf was the preferred pronunciation of the post-Victorian upper classes, sometimes thus recorded in the early decades of the phonograph etc. It went out of use (deemed affected or aristocratic) approx. during the WW2 period.

One of my friends, definitely a lady (but not a Lady) and perhaps in her mid-60s, says "goff".
Alan Jones
Thanks - on the 'goff' pronounciation, why do Americans pronounce Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas!) as Van Go?

How is Van Gogh pronounced in French?

John Varela
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Particular yes: goff for golf was the preferred pronunciation ... use (deemed affected or aristocratic) approx. during the WW2 period.

One of my friends, definitely a lady (but not a Lady) and perhaps in her mid-60s, says "goff".

One that is dropping out of usage is 'rayf' for Ralph.
Thanks - on the 'goff' pronounciation, why do Americans pronounce Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas!) as Van Go?

How is Van Gogh pronounced in French?

At the Radio Canada Web site, in a section called "Le fran=E7ais au micro," Guy Bertrand, the "conseiller linguistique de la Radio fran=E7aise de Radio-Canada," gives the following pronunciation advice:

From

(quote)
Dans le nom de ce c=E9l=E8bre peintre, la particule Van rime avec les mots vanne ou vent. Chez nous, on privil=E9gie nettement la prononciation non nasalis=E9e vann. Enfin, les deux G de Gogh sont sonores. On prononcera donc VANN GOG (ou VAN GOG). Il faut =E9viter de prononcer vann go et van go.
(end quote)
(my translation, with ASCII IPA added)
In the name of this famous painter, the particle Van rhymes with the words vanne /van/ or vent /vA~/. Here, the preferred pronunciation is a non-nasalized vann /van/. Finally, the two g's of Gogh are sounded. One would therefore say VANN GOG /van gOg/ (or VAN GOG /vA~ gOg/. Avoid the pronunciations vann go /van go/ and van go /vA~ go/.

(end of translation)
I figure "vann go" would have the closed "o" of "eau" because in French "go," the name of the Japanese game, has that "o."

That such advice needs to be given indicates to me that some French speakers tend not to pronounce two consonant sounds in the second part of "Van Gogh."

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA=20
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
One of my friends, definitely a lady (but not a Lady) and perhaps in her mid-60s, says "goff".

One that is dropping out of usage is 'rayf' for Ralph.~

Ralph Fiennes pronunces it that way, IIRC!
Nick
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