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Have we been mispronouncing Mount Everest /ˌmaʊnt ˈev(ə)rəst/? It is true that the peak was named after Sir George Everest who pronounced his surname as Eve-rest. But does that etymological detail mean that the above pronunciation is wrong?

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SAUNDSPEL/conversations/messages/69103

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  • How do you pronounce the name of that country that more or less sits between Germany and Spain? And how do you pronounce the name of its capital?
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 11, 2015 at 2:46
  • What does "wrong" mean? The way you've worded your question just invites opinions. It would help if you explained what "wrong" means to you as applied to pronunciation.
    – herisson
    Nov 11, 2015 at 3:58
  • It's even worse for botanists. Poor Herr Fuchs (Fuchsia fwjush-e) and Monsieur Mahon (Mahonia me-ho:n-ia).
    – Hugh
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:01

2 Answers 2

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I would say the fact it's named after a person does make the popular pronunciation technically wrong, but also say that this does not have to mean that it needs to be forcibly rectified. The momentum of tradition in this area is unbelievably hard to fight against.

Five minutes drive from my house (I live in Auckland, New Zealand) is a major street called Wellesley Street. Everyone in my country has always pronounced it "WELL es ley". In fact, the street is named after Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, and his name is properly pronounced "WELLES ley."

Every friend and acquaintance that I've explained this to has believed this fact, agreed that it's odd to have attracted an incorrect pronunciation, and commented that it would be good to actually pronounce it the right way. But it stops there: not a single one of them can bring themselves to pronounce it correctly. It's simply too much for them to change the way they've always said it.

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Unfortunately, we can't ask Sir George Everest how he pronounces his name, so there is no simple answer to this. Language and pronunciation changes throughout history though, and language evolves. For example, the word "whatcha" was not been defined in dictionaries until recently. Instead it has always been slang. But we have incorporated it into our language. The same can be said about Mt Everest. If enough people say "ever-rest" then it will become the pronunciation.

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