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His name seems to be pronounced by English speaking physicists, who probably do not speak German, as ‘Kronnecker’. What is the correct pronunciation?

  • look at this link www.howtopronounce.com/kronecker – SwissCodeMen Sep 13 '20 at 5:42
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    @SwissCodeMen: What you hear at this site is an American pronunciation. But Leopold Kronecker was a German mathematician, so his name should be pronounced German. – Hubert Schölnast Sep 13 '20 at 7:20
  • Right, though I'd say the American pronunciation actually becomes good enough if only you change the r-sound, which is in German always guttural (in kr) or omitted (in er), but never an alveolar/postalveolar approximant (except in some dialects). – leftaroundabout Sep 13 '20 at 13:06
  • In general, for English speakers a reasonable approximation is allowable when names involve sounds not normally used in English. The emphasis being on 'reasonable', for example "Euler" as "oiler" is okay, while "Euler" as "yooler" will provoke condescending looks. The most trouble comes from ö and ü with "Gödel" pronounced something like 'girdle'. Math is generally considered difficult enough without having to be a linguist as well, considering you have to deal with names from all over the world. – RDBury Sep 13 '20 at 14:46
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Leopold Kronecker was a German mathematician and his brother Hugo Kronecker was a German physiologist. Both were born in Liegnitz which belonged to Prussia when they were born, but now belongs to Poland and is spelled Legnica now.

Both were born and grew up in a German speaking society and both of them lived in a region that became Germany later. So, if you want to pronounce their last name correctly, you have to pronounce it according to the German rules of pronunciation.

The name is a compound word, built from

  1. Kron
  2. Ecker

The first part is the stem of the word Krone (engl: crown). The pronunciation of Krone is [ˈkʁoːnə], so Kron has to be prnonouced [ˈkʁoːn].

American people who pronounce this syllable often add an [u] after the [o] and create a diphthong this way, but the correct German pronunciation of Kron doesn't contain an [u] sound or a diphthong. It's just a strait long [o].

The second part "Ecker" is the German name for beech nut, this is the fruit of beech trees. More often you will hear Buchecker instead of Ecker (because the German name of beech is Buche), but both words are valid names for this nut.

  • "Ecker" is pronounced [ˈɛkɐ]

Join it together and you get Kronecker, the main stress is on the first syllable, so all in all you get:

"Kronecker" [ˈkʁoːnɛkɐ]

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    It may be a variety, but the vocalized <er> in Germany usually becomes an [ə]. – amadeusamadeus Sep 13 '20 at 9:05
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    @amadeusamadeus So bitte and bitter are homophonous? That strikes me as unusual. – I would add the glottal stop in front of the second part to the transcription, otherwise people may pronounce the name as [ˈkʁoː.nɛkɐ]. (Not that that pronunciation wouldn't occur, but people should be aware of the more explicit form.) – David Vogt Sep 13 '20 at 9:29
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    +1. Especially for warning about a typical mistake. I lost count how often I heard German scientists' names butchered to the Oblivion. – infinitezero Sep 13 '20 at 10:27
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    Looks plausible but also like folk etymology? What's your evidence for the etymology? Why is it Kron-Ecker and not Kro-Necker? Is Kroneck/Cronegg explained in the same way? Is it comparable to Honecker? Or is that 'someone from Kroneck'? (A quick search gave me a link saying the origin/meaning of 'Kronecker' was 'not known') – LаngLаngС Sep 13 '20 at 11:55
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    @LangLangC: Kro-Necker doesn't make any sense because "Kro" is neither a German word nor stem of a German word. Kroneck/Kronegg/Cronegg is built from "Kron" (stem of "Krone" and "Eck" (very common variation of "Ecke") (outdated also "Egg") which means "corner" but (in Names) also "ridge". – Hubert Schölnast Sep 13 '20 at 20:09

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