Yesterday a colleague who is quite respected in the field of computer/user interfaces was giving a technical talk, and happened to mention some work of the great eighteenth century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler.

Until that moment, I had always assumed that there are two kinds of people in the world: People who have simply never heard of Euler, and people who revere him and his influential work. But suddenly I realized that there is a third category.

For my colleague had pronounced the great mathematician’s name as “Yoo-ler”, whereas the proper pronunciation sounds more like “Oiler”. So here was someone who knew about Euler, and was even properly citing his work, but apparently had never before heard the great man’s name spoken aloud.

There should be a word for this phenomenon — getting the work right but pronouncing the name wrong. I vote for “eulergy”.

It’s a cool word, isn’t it? Now I just need to figure out the right way to pronounce it…

3 Responses to “Eulergy”

  1. Richard smith says:

    And perfectly apropos for an Erdős number situation. I had never heard of him (let alone knew how to pronounce his name), until I HAD an Erdős number.

  2. x says:

    I wonder if the French pronunciation of Euler is different from the English. They tend to pronounce things in other languages “the French way”.

  3. admin says:

    Apparently it is indeed pronounced something like “Oiler” in france. See, for example, this discussion thread.

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