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Is there an official pronunciation for Porsche? I grew up pronouncing it with a silent final e ("Porsh"). However, I've increasingly heard it was pronunced with a neutral e sound at the end ("Por-shuh").

Is this simply an anomaly in some people's idiolects, is it regional, or is it becoming a general thing in American English? And has the pronunciation with the final e become more common over time?

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"[…] My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends." –  kiamlaluno Dec 16 '11 at 0:20
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Like this. –  Gnawme Dec 16 '11 at 1:25
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It goes like this: if you own one, you pronounce the e. If you don't, you don't. –  Sam Dec 16 '11 at 1:28
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Heh @Sam - so it's not regional, it's...posessional. –  Kevin K. Dec 16 '11 at 6:09
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@Gnawme OK, but only if you pronounce Mercedes like this –  sarah Dec 16 '11 at 7:11

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Car guys and gearheads have (pretty much) always known how to pronounce Por-sche.

Porsche's television ads have always given the proper pronunciation, so anyone who paid attention to them (which may have been limited to car guys and gearheads) knew the proper pronunciation.

I would speculate that Porsche has reached a broader market in the past decade or two, especially with the introduction of the Cayenne crossover in 2003, and so there have been more Porsche ads on television, giving a larger cross-section of people (not just the ones who watched F1 or GTP) exposure to the proper pronunciation.

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+1 for the old ad. –  onomatomaniak Dec 16 '11 at 8:43
    
This makes the most sense. Thanks! –  Kevin K. Jan 7 '12 at 20:45

Porsche is a German word, and the pronunciation of the 'e' at the end is a facsimile of the German pronunciation.

You could have found this out from the company's wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche

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Sorry; I clarified the question to be clearer. I'm interested in if the general pronunciation is changing or if the differences I've observed are just regional or idiolect-driven. –  Kevin K. Dec 16 '11 at 6:15
    
@KevinK. It isn't changing. You're just encountering more people who know the correct pronunciation. There's nothing idiolectic about that, although choices as to whether or not correctly pronounce foreign words may be regional. –  Marcin Dec 16 '11 at 10:39

Nothing about English is, or can be, "official". Sorry.

And Porsche is a German name, not an English one.

The German pronunciation is something like ['pɔəʃə].

How one pronounces a foreign name in English depends on how closely one wishes to reproduce the foreign pronunciation. This varies a lot, especially among Americans, who are usually innocent of any linguistic knowledge.

A German /r/ is hard to make for rhotic English speakers (though non-rhotic speakers say it pretty close to German); /ɔ/ is merged with /a/ in many westcoast American dialects, and the final shwa seems optional, since there's no other English word /porʃ/ that it could be.

Executive summary: You pays your money and you takes your choice.

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Americans, who are usually innocent of any linguistic knowledge - Could you provide a reference for that? (I'm Dutch speaking Belgian, so it's nothing personal) –  ptriek Dec 16 '11 at 0:42
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Wait, he asked for a reference. Or are you using yourself as the reference? –  GEdgar Dec 16 '11 at 1:40
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Americans do not merge /ɔr/ with /ar/. In General American, the vowels are not merged before /r/. And the non-rhotic American dialects are ones that don't merge /ɔ/ with /a/. No American dialect I have heard would pronounce stork and stark the same. –  Peter Shor Dec 16 '11 at 4:44
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True. These are independent phenomena. As for the reference, sure, why not? I've been saying this for years, in print and person. And experiencing it as a college teacher for almost 50 years. Americans are not taught, and by and large do not learn, anything accurate or useful about their own or other languages. They are mostly taught how not to irritate peevers, or at least peevers with the same set of peeves as their teachers. –  John Lawler Dec 16 '11 at 5:03
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@JohnLawler: While I understand the base for your concerns, this is probably not the right forum to discuss them. It's largely a phenomenon that is to each their own. I speak Spanish fluently, for example, and while as a sole source of education, school wouldn't have been enough, I probably never would have attempted using it with friends and acquaintances (which is what really got me fluent) without it. Personal motivation is always a requirement. –  Kevin K. Dec 16 '11 at 6:11

There is probably an element of hypercorrection here, where people may be more used to trying to get French words right by not pronouncing a final vowel. Since the word is German, we need to pronounce the final vowel to be faithful to the original language.

Not everyone knows the right way to pronounce it, and too many people probably do not even care.

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protected by RegDwigнt Apr 11 '13 at 17:10

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