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As far as I can tell the two have different etymologies and have both possible pronunciations, CLUH-J and CLOO-J but seem to be used interchangeably. I had not idea CLOO-J even existed until my school business librarian used it.

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"CLUH-J" = [klʌdʒ] and "CLOO-J" = [kludʒ] –  Kosmonaut Dec 18 '10 at 16:53
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nope, CLOO-J = [klu:dʒ] –  Mark Dec 18 '10 at 20:55
    
@Mark: Depends on whether you consider vowel height or vowel length more important, I suppose. And the more correct the transcription, the less universal anyway. –  Jon Purdy Dec 19 '10 at 18:49
    
True. I only added the comment because I'd never heard CLOO-J uttered, and had to find out whether it was pronounced in a strange German way [kludʒ] or French [klu:dʒ]. –  Mark Jan 1 '11 at 20:00
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4 Answers 4

In thirty years as an engineer, the only pronunciation I have heard from other engineers is CLOO-J.

On the rare occasions when I heard someone say CLUH-J, the speaker was NOT an engineer and was pronouncing the word as they had seen it written: kludge.

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I've also seen and heard both. In my experience, kludge is more common these days; kluge seems to be used by older programmers/engineers, or those who believe that it's more correct because it's apparently older. To me, the kludge spelling and "fudgy" pronunciation seem more American. That is, I can see it looking and sounding more comfortable to average Americans, while the other may seem a bit stilted (trying too hard to maintain foreign origins).

I know you have to be careful when relying on Wikipedia, but I think its article on this subject is pretty good.

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+1 for the Wikipedia article; it could be nice to add some of its well-documented points (in particular, that in some usage kluge and kludge are essentially different words) into the text of your answer. –  PLL Dec 18 '10 at 19:19
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I always use the CLOOJ pronunciation, because that is how I've always heard it. In fact, I've never heard it the other way.

Nevertheless, I always spell it kludge, possibly because kluge always brings to mind the German word meaning "clever" and is pronounced "KLOO-GEH".

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But only clever feminine or plural things :) –  Kosmonaut Dec 18 '10 at 16:55
    
@Kosmonaut: Or der word complements in the nominative case, as in der kluge Mann or das kluge Pferd. With ein words, of course, you would add the gender-specific signifier, as in ein kluger Mann or ein kluges Pferd. –  Robusto Dec 18 '10 at 17:12
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True, I should say indefinite feminine or plural things, or definite non-plural things. Okay, I guess it isn't all that funny sounding anymore... nevermind :) –  Kosmonaut Dec 18 '10 at 18:15
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I've had people tell me I'm wrong for saying kludge, that kluge is the right pronunciation. I'm not sure I like that answer though, so hopefully someone can prove me wrong.

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