How do I pronounce 'Gaudi', in the name of Antoni Gaudí (the architect)?

  • In my neck of the woods... like Audi (the car). This is, however - not to say that my forest-friends know "their butts" from a Seat. – alex gray Aug 23 '12 at 1:01
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    I like this tip about using YouTube to know the pronounciation of difficult/foreign words & names. "Go to YouTube.com and search for any word followed by ',cc' – this is a YouTube search operator that will only show videos that have closed captions. Example - Eyjafjallajokull, cc [YouTube search for videos with closed captions]. In YouTube search results, pick a video that has that particular word in the transcript. Then click the transcript button and jump to the line containing that word." – mvark Aug 23 '12 at 10:35
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the pronunciation of non-English surnames cannot remotely be regarded as the remit of EL&U. – David May 1 '18 at 13:30

The "au" in Catalan (his native language) is pronounced like English "ow" (how, cow ...etc) and there's an accent on the "i" to indicate emphasis, so you pronounce it as "gow-DEE". However, most native English speakers would not be aware of the emphasis on the "i", so you most commonly hear "GOW-dee" in English-speaking countries.

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    Unless Pau Casals is an exception, it looks like it would probably be pronounced as Antony Quinn says (in IPA, "ow" like "cow" is written [aw]): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_phonology#Diphthongs – Kosmonaut Sep 22 '10 at 11:11
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    @cindi: "Pau" is pronounced like the first syllable in "Gaudi". – CesarGon Jan 3 '11 at 20:27
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    @AntonyQuinn: The name's Catalan, not Spanish. – Mechanical snail Aug 23 '12 at 0:39
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    @AntonyQuinn As Mechanical snail notes, Gaudí's name is Catalan, not Spanish, and as such he would have pronounced his name [ɡəwˈði], with the 'au' diphthong more akin to the vowel sound in an RP pronunciation of go [ɡəw] (this is because unstressed 'a' and 'e' are reduced to a schwa in Eastern Catalan, which explains the difference in pronunciation between it and the (stressed) Pau [paw]). – ukemi May 1 '18 at 9:00

The closest approximation to how a Spaniard, whether Castilian or Catalan, would say Gaudí is as [ga̠u̯ˈð̞i].

That won’t sound very English, of course. That’s because the second consonant is not one that occurs in English, and English-speakers often struggle to hear it clearly at all. That letter ‹d› there is actually a voiced dental approximant in Spanish, which is like a voiced ‹th› per English this but not so strong. It can be very faint indeed.

If you just say the sound from English this there instead, it will be ok, and people will know whom you mean. If you say the sound of English dud, it won’t be ok — at least if you are trying to sound like it’s Spanish.

More IPA details available here.

  • That won’t sound very English, of course: why should it? – nico Aug 23 '12 at 11:10
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    @nico It isn’t ever clear what people mean when they ask how to pronounce a foreign word. Do you they want to know how to say it in that foreign language, or do they want some general approximation in English? English speakers typically flub Spanish consonants quite badly, because they are different from those in English, and change depending on the word. ‹t› and ‹d› are dental not alveolar as in English, and the 3 stop/fricative/approximant series all are wont to trip them up: ‹b, v› as [b, β, β̞]; ‹d› as [d̪, ð, ð̞]; ‹g› as [g, ɣ, ɣ̞/ɰ] or [x, χ]. – tchrist Aug 23 '12 at 11:57
  • Note: there is a difference in (Eastern) Catalan pronunciation and standard Spanish due to the unstressed vowel: [ɡəwˈði] vs [ɡawˈði] – ukemi Mar 27 '19 at 17:55

Gaudí's name and language were Catalan, a Romance language related to Spanish and French. There are multiple common ways to pronounce his name:

  • The Catalan way: [ɡəwˈði]
    How Gaudí himself and most people in Catalonia would pronounce it.
    • the 'au' is pronounced similar to the vowel sound in an RP pronunciation of go
    • The 'di' is pronounced like thee
    • The stress is on the second syllable 'gau-DÍ'

  • The Spanish way: [ɡawˈði]
    How most non-Catalan people in Spain would pronounce it.
    • similar to the Catalan pronunciation, except the 'au' is pronounced like the 'ow' in cow

  • The English way: [ˈɡaʊdi]
    How most of the English-speaking world pronounce it.
    • Rhymes with rowdy

If you want to sound authentically Catalan just stressing the second syllable (instead of the first) gets you most of the way there, but it's common for loanwords to undergo changes in pronunciation using the 'closest approximations' of phonemes native to the target language, so there's no shame in using the anglicised pronunciation.

There's a famous anecdote about the Basque essayist Miguel de Unamuno pronouncing Shakespeare in the Spanish way /sakespeˈaɾe/ (sa-kes-pay-AH-ray) during a conference. He was apparently laughed at by his compatriots for this 'faux pas', but to their embarrassment and surprise he then delivered the rest of the lecture in fluent English.

Or see, for example, how Dalí (another Catalan architect, among other achievements) pronounces Velazquez's name when speaking English, vs when he is speaking Spanish.

  • Listening to some recordings of Catalans pronouncing it online, it's not exactly the RP go. But that's certainly the closest English vowel. – Peter Shor Mar 27 '19 at 13:45
  • @PeterShor True, there are subtle differences in how central RP's schwa and that of unstressed vowels in Catalan are, and the 'u' would properly be /ʊ/ in RP but /u/ in Catalan, but it's the closest analogue I can think of. – ukemi Mar 27 '19 at 13:59

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