Pronounciation of Eleanor & usage

. Sorry this post might get a bit longer, but I have to start at the beginning :)

I'm not pregnant (and most probably won't be any time soon), but I love names a lot and sometimes wander off thinking about possible names for future children I may or may not have. A few months ago I've posted a thread about English names that would work in Germany. That's where I'm from, where I grew up and where I live. However I am not very keen on the pronounciation of most German names and here it is considered strange to give your children English names unless there's some kind of connection to an English speaking country. Also it is very common for people of 'lower social classes' - if I may say so, without intending to offense anyone - to give their children English names (these include certain names like Jason and Jeremy for example) whenever people hear parents call their children Jason or Jeremy they usually assume that the family must be of a lower social class - which is quite sad. 

I'm always trying to find names that work in both languages and don't seem strange here in Germany and especially don't scream 'low class' to Germans

One name I have loved for a very long time is Eleanor! But it's a name where it seems like the pronounciation can actually vary a lot. I've checked it on forvo and there were quite a few differences. In the US they seem to pronounce the 'nor' part pretty much the way it's written. For the UK i found one that was similar and another where it sounded more like nah - which is the way I'd pronounce it. I don't believe I have a strong German accent when I speak English - maybe a bit - and I'd say it's somewhat close to the English spoken in the UK (I'm aware that there are many different dialects, but I couldn't possibly say which one mine gets closest to, it's probably a mix) rather than any US dialect. Anyhow, that's the pronounciation I like the most! So I was wondering how you'd pronounce the name and where you are from. I'd be especially curious to know where in the UK people use which pronounciation

My next question is: Do you think it'd work on a German baby with that exact pronounciation? Here the name Eleanor - pronounced Eh-leh-ah-nor is considered sort of a grandma name. And I absolutely dislike the German pronounciation and would think of it as a grandma name too. To get a similar pronounciation Elena would be the closest here in Germany. I don't like it as much, though. It just doesn't look as elegant and classic to me. I think people would initially mispronounce Eleanor or misspell it,  but I think it could be easily clarified by saying Elena spelled Eleanor. 

I apologise for the long post! :) 

 

Replies

1
July 26, 2016 6:51 PM

Is Elinor used at all in German? Would it fall into the Kevin and Jeremy category?

You appear to have a non-rhotic accent. In a rhotic accent like mine, 'r' is pronounced the same, regardless of where it is in a word. In non-rhotic accents, 'r' is only pronounced before vowels; all 'r's that come after vowels are merely historical artifacts. (As I understand it, "before" and "after" are within the scope of a syllable: the 'r' in Jeremy is pronounced, but not the one in Margot.)

According to Wikipedia, most of England, Australia, and New Zealand are non-rhotic, but Scotland, Ireland, and most of North America are rhotic. Most Europeans learn the standard British dialect, which is non-rhotic. Thus, you can expect the r-less pronunciation of Eleanor from most people you encounter -- if they're pronouncing it in English. If they pronounce it in German (or Italian, or Spanish, or Hungarian, etc.), it'll have four syllables and three consonant sounds, including the 'r' at the end. (Or, if they're not paying attention and/or automatically substituting the name they know, it'll have five syllables: Eleanora.)

Unfortunately, it's generally best to avoid names where you despise a particular nickname or pronunciation. If you don't like Eleanor with four syllables, then even in a completely English-speaking environment, you shouldn't use Eleanor, because some people will default to saying it that way.

2
July 27, 2016 6:45 PM

Yes, pretty much all of this.  I asked my husband to read the name to me "in German" (he's a native speaker) and it pretty much sounded like HNG described above (4 syllables + the R).

3
July 27, 2016 9:02 AM

I live in the US, and here most people pronounce it "Eh-luh-nor," though I've heard "Eh-luh-ner." Another thing to note about the pronunciation is that in the US people have many different accents (Western, Northern, New Jersey, etc.), so I am not familiar with all of them.

I definitely think that Eleanor would work for a German baby, but I have have never been to Germany. I really like Elinor and Eleanora, too.

4
July 27, 2016 5:46 PM

I live in the UK (south-east England) and I would use the nah ending as my default. 

As for if it would work on a German baby I really couldn't say but from your description it sounds like maybe it wouldn't. Because it seems like almost all people would pronounce it in the way you dislike, and people would probably spell it wrong at first too. I do agree that it wouldn't be too hard to clarify but keep in mind that you/your daughter would be clarifying to most everyone she meets for her whole life, and what if your daughter decided she would rather not correct that and just go with the German pronounciation? If you didn't mind the German pronounciation then I think it would be less of an issue but I would be wary of choosing a name that means you will constantly be hearing a name you don't like said instead.

For what it's worth to me Elena looks just as classic as Eleanor.