I would like to ask a "big list" style question on the main site.

The question would be "How do we pronounce the names of famous mathematicians?".

Each answer would be an audio clip of the pronunciation of the name of a famous mathematician. I often find myself wondering how to pronounce a name like "Thistlethwaite" or "de Bruijn". I think that having a big list of such audio clips would be a great resource for the community. It would be especially fun to have clips of the mathematicians themselves pronouncing their names. I find that it is rare to hear a mathematician pronouncing their own name: usually they are introduced by another speaker.

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    $\begingroup$ You can have a look how some questions about pronouncing a specific name fared on MO: Crapo, Dijkstra , Hartshorne, Munkres. (Of course, that is different from a big-list question.) There was a bit similar question on Mathematics - it was eventually deleted: Re: Mathematicians whose names are commonly mispronounced. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak It seems these questions have not fared well... $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ In case you still want to ask the question, my first advice would be provide a cost function, since there's no objectively correct way to relate symbols to an utterance. One option would be to ask for how the names are pronounced in the countries those scientists were born (or, similarly, where those names are still commonly given to children). Another metric would be to ask for how to pronounce it to be understood in the academic community (you wouldn't want to correct Americans every time they say Einstein, and you'd probably use their way of saying it to be understood). $\endgroup$
    – Nikolaj-K
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe I should have mentioned that Mathematics has a tag called pronunciation. But the questions I see in this tag about names of mathematicians are closed: L'Hospital, Sturm, Kunen, Hessian. $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2022 at 5:42
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    $\begingroup$ And now I noticed this older discussion on MathOverflow Meta: Pronunciation questions. (I would describe the reception there as mostly positive - but you can read the discussion and judge for yourself.) $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2022 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ I asked one such question ( mathoverflow.net/q/71652/454 ) It was closed within 3 hours. Because of that I never asked another question on pronunciation of a name. $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2022 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ Although I am definitely in the "conservative approach to MO" camp, in the sense that I tend to be much stricter than the rest of the community about what I think belongs here (and I do wish we'd get more traffic to HSMSE—although questions like this probably don't belong there either), and my impression should be taken with a corresponding grain of salt, it seems to me that a question like this, however valuable it would be, is clearly not about research-level mathematics. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ Sound files can’t be uploaded in the current MathOverflow interface, and I don’t think this use case provides enough reason to change that. $\endgroup$
    – user44143
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ I'm all for it. If you figure out a way to get audio files hosted somewhere, that'd be great. I could imagine asking people to specify prounciation using IPA, though maybe that would have limited utility for non-linguists. Personally, I think there could still be value even if we had to resort to writing things like "Kleene is pronounced like "clean-y"" (I admit I'd also find it amusing!). Of course, it would ultimately be up to the community whether it should remain open. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion I'd guess that reading IPA is not that problematic even for non-linguists; it is probably more difficult to write something correctly using IPA. I saw that some Stack Exchange sites use SoundCloud as a solution for audio files. I am not sure how suitable that would be - I have tried to ask around, but I did not have much success. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2022 at 7:37


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