Richter

No, not judges again, but the Richter scale. Following a small earthquake in Kent, John Wells points out that we usually pronounce Richter wrong:

Saturday’s minor earthquake in Kent meant that the newsreaders made several references to the Richter scale. As usual, they mostly pronounced it either [MM: in the German way or in an approximation of it]. But Charles Richter, the creator of the earthquale magnitude scale, was not from a German-speaking country, and the newsreaders’ otherwise admirable familiarity with German pronunciation is here misapplied. He was an American, born in Ohio. Being American, he naturally pronounced his name [MM: like Rictor, as in Victor] , and we should do the same …

I am not taking the time to reproduce the phonetic alphabet here, nor could I identify a permalink in John Wells’ weblog.

For German, Muret-Sanders and Collins both recommend the German pronunciation or the Rictor pronunciation.

das Erdbeben erreichte Stärke acht auf der Richter-Skala the earthquake registered eight on the Richter scale
© Langenscheidt KG, Berlin und München [Collins]

2 thoughts on “Richter

  1. Some drunken thoughts:
    * I’ll start pronouncing Richter the American way if the Americans and just about everyone else promise to try a bit harder with poor old Van Gogh.
    * Since none of us know how God pronounced his name, should we abstain from its use until futher communications? What about the humble ferret?
    * To a European audience a German Richter sounds much more trustworthy than one from Ohio, and trussed is surely what we require in tectonic science, for all the poor reputation of some bridges of this construction in earthquakes.
    * There was a nice case a while back down your way involving the transcription of Greek names http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&numdoc=61991J0168&lg=en

  2. It’s difficult to answer this sober, but I must report that Greek translators in Bavaria talk of little else than that case. It comes up in lists of hints on doing certified translations.

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