Biden - pronunciation in different languages

< Previous | Next >

Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
Good morning ladies & gentlemen, let's celebrate the results of the USA elections with a linguistic topic. There has been a similar fascinating thread about pronunciation of English names here, so I would like to open a similar thread. The names of some previous USA presidents were easy to pronounce in many different languages and sounded almost 100% the original English pronunciation, e.g: Bush, Kennedy. I think Trump is a rather simple name, too. Joe Biden's name is simple as well, the problem is the second part, where there is schwa in English. Some languages hate schwas. So how do you pronounce Biden in your language? Similar names of USA presidents were: Clinton, Nixon. Thank you for your cooperation and have a productive weekend. Encolpius from the foggy Prague.
My guess is this:
1st category: -den is pronounced with a schwa, so actually the same pronunciation as in English: German, Czech
2nd category: -den is pronounced as den (small cavern): Hungarian, Slovak, Russian, Italian, French
My guess is the second category is prevailing, right?
[I do not mean the "posh" pronunciation in different languages, but the common one.]
 
  • TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Hello.

    You're right about Italian. Standard Italian (as well as regional Italian from several different areas) doesn't have the schwa sound. Since we are used to phonetic spelling, we tend to pronounce every letter as it is spelled; so, "e" is either /e/ or /ɛ/. When I'm speaking Italian, I pronounce Biden as /'baidɛn/.

    As a side note, I have noticed that a small percentage of Italians tend to Italianize the first syllable too, pronouncing it with an /i/ sound (as if it were spelled Beeden). I would say it's only a minority, possibly made up of those people that are not very familiar with English and haven't followed the elections on Italian TV (where the prevalent pronunciation is /'baidɛn/, /-den/).
     
    Last edited:

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Very interesting about the open or closed e in Italian. :thumbsup:
    Somehow I completely forgot you have schwa in Russian. :):thumbsup:
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    In Italian it is considered quite silly and inelegant to try and imitate the original pronunciation of a foreign word: it would make people smile and roll their eyes if you said "Biden" with a schwa just as much as if you pronuonced "Macron" with a French R and nasal sound at the end instead of "Macr'on".
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Spanish: /ˈbai̯ð̞en/

    In Catalan there's a schwa but I'd say most people say /e/ because we use the Spanish pronunciation for foreign names (at least for vowels).

    Similar names of USA presidents were: Clinton, Nixon
    Spanish: /ˈklinton/, /ˈnikson/

    I think Trump is a rather simple name, too.
    Why should it be simple? Not many languages have /ʌ/. In Spain this is rendered as /a/ but in Latin America I've mostly heard /o/.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    As the <e> is a 'full, pure, short' vowel in Cymraeg/Welsh, then we shouldn't pronounce it with a schwa. (This we leave to the short vowel written as <y>, which may or may not be stressed. Yes, schwa can be stressed and accented in Cymraeg.)

    That being the case, I suggest we are in the '-den family': /'baidɛn/. However, there is no indication that the first syllable consists of a Welsh diphthong (which would be written in Cymraeg as <ai>), so theoretically, a proper Welsh pronunciation should be, /'bIdɛn/ ('BID-den). I don't see this happening in practice however, and under English influence (and in particular the American English that we hear in Mr B.'s home country), it's going to be said /'baidən/. (Another phonolgical battle against English lost.)

    _________

    @Dymn Why should it [Trump] be simple? Not many languages have /ʌ/.

    Cymraeg doesn't, and I personally can't distinguish the two vowels in Standard Br. E, of 'butter', although I 'know' that these are two different vowels in that language. And maybe I pronounce them differently, too, but they still both sound as schwa to me. 'Trump' has a stressed schwa in my (incorrect) transcription.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Catalan, Italian, Spanish, Welsh - same family here with 'pure' vowels in /ˈklIntɔn/, /ˈnIksɔn/ and not a schwa in the final (unstressed) syllable. (But liable to be rendered the 'English' way by most Welsh speakers.)
     
    Greek:

    «Μπάιντεν» [ˈbai̯.den], «Κλίντον» [ˈklin.tɔn], «Νίξον» [ˈni.k͡sɔn], «Τραμπ» [ˈtramp], «Μπους» [ˈbus] (Standard MoGreek has no /ʃ/ sound).
    In Italian it is considered quite silly and inelegant to try and imitate the original pronunciation of a foreign word: it would make people smile and roll their eyes if you said "Biden" with a schwa just as much as if you pronuonced "Macron" with a French R and nasal sound at the end instead of "Macr'on".
    Likewise here, although I've heard anchormen and anchorwomen on Greek tv news pronouncing English names with heavy BrEnglish or USEnglish accent (which is indeed quite silly)

    Edit: Added Trump
     
    Last edited:

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Macedonian:

    Бајден ['baj.dɛn]

    Кенеди ['kɛ.nɛ.di], Никсон ['nik.sɔn], Клинтон ['klin.tɔn], Буш ['buʃ], Трамп ['tramp]
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    It's pronounced in Russian with the same second syllable as Баден. I'm wondering if our non-Russian foreros would identify that sound as a schwa in all the recordings.

    This would be the unacclimatised pronunciation with a hard /n/. I doubt it's going to become standard any time soon (some words have been resisting it for a couple of centuries now), but those who wish to (or can't help but) make it sound more like a native word will pronounce it with a soft /nʲ/ like this.
     
    Last edited:

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Spanish: /ˈbai̯ð̞en/
    In Catalan there's a schwa but I'd say most people say /e/ because we use the Spanish pronunciation for foreign names (at least for vowels).
    I see what you mean but I wouldn't say that's so generalized. I say /ˈbai̯ð̞en/ in Spanish but definitely /ˈbai̯ð̞ən/ in Catalan, and that's what I've mostly heard in TV news so far. But being honest, if you listen to Americans saying it, you don't even hear a schwa. Or not a full one as we do.

    Anyway to me, both in Spanish and Catalan, the most prominent feature, rather than the vowel, would be the difference in the pronunciation of the d.

    Edit: By Spanish I mean from Spain. In Latin America, they try to sound more "English". In Spain, trying to be accurate when pronouncing English words is regarded as silly and snobbish, just as Symposium mentioned for Italian above.
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's pronounced in Russian with the same second syllable as Баден.
    The only pronunciation of Баден on Forvo sounds pretty artificial to me, frankly (as it often happens on Forvo :)). Баден-Баден by ae5s and баден-баденский by BorisK are natural enough.
    This would be the unacclimatised pronunciation with a hard /n/. I doubt it's going to become standard any time soon (some words have been resisting it for a couple of centuries now), but those who wish to (or can't help but) make it sound more like a native word will pronounce it with a soft /nʲ/ like this.
    You likely meant /d/ and /dʲ/?..
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Edit: By Spanish I mean from Spain. In Latin America, they try to sound more "English". In Spain, trying to be accurate when pronouncing English words is regarded as silly and snobbish, just as Symposium mentioned for Italian above.
    The same is true as regards Quebec French and European French, although I doubt most European French speakers could pronounce names in the "English" way even if they wanted to.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I had assumed Biden was an Irish name as he takes such pride in his Irish heritage. If this is a known name is it pronounced differently?
    Biden is a proud Irish American but I don't think that his surname is Irish (I've certainly never come across any Irish Bidens). A quick Google Search seems to indicate that it's Anglo-Norman (which could still be "Irish" after all, like Fitzgerald or Fitzmaurice, but it seems unlikely) or Anglo-Saxon in origin.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    In French (Québec) : /baj'dœn/, more or less. All French words are stressed on the last syllable. French does have a schwa / ə /, but it rarely appears in a stressed syllable. (Only in expressions like dis-le, I think. The sound /œ/ is close enough. I think it's about the same in France, though some people less familiar with English may prononce /baj'dɛn/.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    In French (Québec) : /baj'dœn/, more or less. All French words are stressed on the last syllable. French does have a schwa / ə /, but it rarely appears in a stressed syllable. (Only in expressions like dis-le, I think. The sound /œ/ is close enough. I think it's about the same in France, though some people less familiar with English may prononce /baj'dɛn/.
    Yes, definitely :thumbsup: I'm sure I've heard people say /baj'dɛn/ with a pure <e>, but /baj'dœn/ is equally (if not more) common.
    [œ] is pretty much a stressed schwa. It's close to the English vowel you hear in nurse, word, girl.

    Incidentally, we use the same vowel for "Trump" : /tʁœmp/ (or /tmp/ if you're more 'clued-up').
    By contrast, I suspect an Italian or a Spanish speaker would use an [a] here.
     
    Last edited:

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thanks for the very interesting answers.

    Байден "Báyden" (['bˠaɪ̯d̪ˠən̪ˠ] would be the most exact transcription).
    I had not had enought time to listen carefully how you pronounce Biden, but is "de" soft just like in день?

    .... Welsh - same family here with 'pure' vowels in /ˈklIntɔn/, /ˈnIksɔn/ and not a schwa in the final (unstressed) syllable. (But liable to be rendered the 'English' way by most Welsh speakers.)
    Solely a brief comment: unbelievable. :thumbsup: :)
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    As no one has mentioned it, the way I pronounce Biden, and most people I know, there is no schwa and the ď is not hard. It's almost one syllable: 'Bai-dn". If I were to pronounce the "e" I wouldn't pronounce a schwa, I'd pronounce : "Bai-dIn".
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    and the ď is not hard
    In Slavic languages "softness" refers to palatal or palatalized quality, while "hardness" to the absence of such (in Russian it's most typically goes together with velarization, much like in Irish, so the only two possibilities here are [d̪ˠə] and [d̪ʲə̟]~[d̪ʲɪ]; English [də] is interpreted and transcribed as the former).
    It's almost one syllable: 'Baidn
    It cannot be really one syllable, but, obviously, a syllabic /n/ separated by a nazal release is a possibility.
     
    Last edited:

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    From my local paper: he's of a Sussex background (south-east England)
    Biden is a proud Irish American but I don't think that his surname is Irish (I've certainly never come across any Irish Bidens). A quick Google Search seems to indicate that it's Anglo-Norman (which could still be "Irish" after all, like Fitzgerald or Fitzmaurice, but it seems unlikely) or Anglo-Saxon in origin.
    Interesting. Mr. Biden stresses his Irish roots more than his Sussex background. So what is the local pronunciation of the name in south-east England?
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    Greetings from Sussex! I wasn't aware that the P.E. had Sussex roots. As you say, he makes much more of a deal of being Irish.

    But for what it's worth, down here on the coast of SE England, 'Biden' would simply be /'baɪd ən/ - a standard English pronunciation. Compared with the American pronunciation, the British version pronounces two fairly clear syllables: a proper /d/ in the middle and a schwa in the second syllable.

    It's also worth pointing out that Biden is a very unusual name. I have never come across anyone else - in Britain, Ireland or the US - with that name.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish: ['bɑiden]
    There are many other ways to pronounce it as well but I'll leave them be unless you're interested.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Yes, so far only these languages in the 1st category: English, German, Czech, Welsh, Russian.
    It would be interesting to guess, no other members participate here, which other languages belongs to that category. We just need to check our knowledge about languages, right? I think Scandinavian languages, Dutch belong to category 1.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Basically the first group will consist of languages inclined to qualitative reduction in general and/or possessing the schwa as a phoneme. In Germanic languages qualitative reduction has a very long history. In Slavic languages that tendency is generally much less expressed and its degree strongly depends on the particular language.

    Note that some languages which do have a schwa-like phoneme still may be influenced by the English spelling (e.g. Kazakh and Tatar Байден - instead of *Байдын, which would be definitely closer; for Tatar, the Russian spelling may be also a factor).
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Good morning Awwal, I am not a linguist so I am nore sure which languages would follow the original English pronunciation, can you guess? Then we actually do not need any comments from natives at all. And I am not as patient to wait 20 years for replies here. :D
    I think Chinese is in the 1st category, too: 拜登 Bài dēng
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Good morning Awwal, I am not a linguist so I am nore sure which languages would follow the original English pronunciation, can you guess?
    Well, I'm not a professional linguist either, but Germanic languages definitely should. The rest is pretty random. I don't really know many languages which would be that inclined to qualitative reduction. The languages which do have positionally unrestricted phonemic schwa-like sounds (like many Turkic and Finnic ones - not Turkish and Finnish, though) may still prefer frontal vowels for the orthographic reasons, as we can see.

    Bulgarian uses Байдън, which should be quite close.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    ['ba(:)i.dən] in Dutch

    Dropping the schwa like in Canadian English (etc.) is also done in West Flemish and some other accents.
     

    clamor

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Here in France:
    Biden [bajd̪œn̪] or even [bid̪œn̪], Joe [d͡ʒo] but you can hear [ʒo] too
    Trump [t̪ʁœmp], some educated speakers say [tɹʌmp] but it sounds a bit posh, Donald [do'nald]
    Clinton and Nixon both have [ɔ]
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    Here en Québec, children prononce it as if it were la Louine /la luin/ or /la lwin/. La is the feminine definite article. H is mute. So, la Halloween, becomes la Alloween an then la Louine. It has been celebrated for many decades here. It is not, like in France, I think, a novelty. When, as a child, I read for the first time Halloween, I could hardly understand the word !
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Here en Québec, children prononce it as if it were la Louine /la luin/ or /la lwin/. La is the feminine definite article. H is mute. So, la Halloween, becomes la Alloween an then la Louine. It has been celebrated for many decades here. It is not, like in France, I think, a novelty. When, as a child, I read for the first time Halloween, I could hardly understand the word !
    Totally understandable. This is probably because the Québécois culturally adopted the custom, heard the pronunciation and reappropriated it, and then much later saw the form written out. The French start out with the written form on tons of decorations and candies etc., they guess the pronunciation and culturally it still hasn't been really adopted. It's foreign.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top