A fairly popular resource over on Latin SE is Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar. Now, "Allen" is fairly straightforward, but how the [redacted] do you pronounce Greenough? Was he a Green-uff or a Green-oh? Or did he use one of the other dozen or so ways to pronounce ough? (I doubt he was a Green-up).

That Wikipedia article implies the surname is "Green-oh", and seeing as the Greenough in question was American, I doubt a river in Western Australia is relevant. But I can't be sure! Are their any records on how J. B. Greenough preferred to pronounce his surname?

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    New Englander here. When I've run into the name, it's been pronounced "Green-oh".
    – user888379
    Commented Jun 23 at 20:00
  • I do not know but I do know it has nothing to do with nationality or type of English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 23 at 20:06
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    pretty sure it would be Green-uff (mild f) in England and Scotland, but I'd be surprised if it were not Green-oh in the U.S..
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jun 24 at 9:18
  • I'm not sure that the pronunciation of a specific person's name should be on-topic. Anyone is free to prefer whatever pronunciation they choose, whether it accords with usual practices or not. (Where it doesn't, they have to live with frequent mispronunciation, like composer Steve Reich who prefers a "-sh" sound instead of "-k" to avoid associations with the Third Reich.) Commented Jun 24 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


In Harvard Magazine’s 2000 Commencement and Reunion Guide article “Grace Notes” we find:

When degrees have been conferred upon candidates from Harvard College to much jubilation, and honorary degrees awarded to much applause, it is time for the entire assembly to sing the “Harvard Hymn.” The creation of professor of Latin James Bradstreet Greenough, A.B. 1856, and the energetic Paine, the Latin text includes not-so-subtle references to the desirability of a university with “eruditi professores” and generous “donatores.”

In the audio accompanying the text (at 5:18), it is pronounced GREE-noh. It appears that the audio is auto-generated from the text, but one imagines that auto-generated audio can be corrected if necessary.

And the magazine seems pretty fussy; on its FAQ page under Policies > Fact-checking it states:

Each text printed in Harvard Magazine (all of which are subsequently published online) is rigorously edited for language and style, and fact-checked, by the senior editor; and read by the other members of the editorial team, who also pose queries, make suggestions, and question matters of fact . . .

That’s a starting place, anyway. Maybe you can find some online Latin grammar lectures to attend, or write to Harvard to inquire.

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    Aw shucks, and here I was hoping it would be Grenna like in Greenwich and Grenville, rhyming with henna.:) This does say that the Ozzie one is /ˈɡrɛnʌf/ so like GREN-uf.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 24 at 1:35
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    @tchrist — I did encounter one convincing pronunciation that sounded like grə-NOH. But if we could just find an extant limerick. — There once was a scholar named GREE-noh, who .... Commented Jun 24 at 2:18
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    @TinfoilHat …shot a poor fellow in Reno? Commented Jun 24 at 5:33
  • 10
    @TinfoilHat ...The police were amazed/That the chap was just dazed/But advised him to leave the casino.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jun 24 at 6:49

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