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Porl Air-dursh: a public service announcement

Since we’re all talking and writing about Paul Erdős today, I just thought I’d make a little post clearing up how to write, and how to say, his name.

How to write Paul Erdős

The ő has a couple of little swishes above it. It’s not an o-umlaut ö; it’s a double-acute ő. I don’t think there’s a keyboard shortcut for it in Windows; I normally get it by googling “Erdos”, or using Shapecatcher.

If you want to be really really correct, his name is written in the original Hungarian as Erdős Pál.

In LaTeX, his name is written as Erd\H{o}s P\'al.

How to say Paul Erdős

You can get away with pronouncing ‘Paul’ how you normally do. ‘Pál’ is written [paːl]; in IPA – the ‘a’ is a long ‘ah’, like how a Southerner would pronounce ‘father’.

‘Erdős’ is pronounced, roughly, ‘air-dursh’. In IPA, it’s  [ˈɛrdøːʃ]; – ‘e’ as in ‘bed’, a rolled ‘r’, ‘d’, ‘ur’ as in ‘nurse’, and ‘sh’ as in ‘ship’. Make your best effort at saying it that way, but we won’t mind if you don’t get it perfect.

Now that’s cleared up. As you were!

2 Responses to “Porl Air-dursh: a public service announcement”

  1. Lucas

    Could we also have one on LaTeX?

    It’s “La-Tech”. It’s okay to pronounce the “ch” as “k”, although I once confirmed with Knuth that the “ch” is actually a xi (whic isn’t too far from the Scottish/German ch in “loch”, if you know those.)

    “Lay-teks” and “lay-tek” are definitely “wrong”, though. :-P

    • Christian Perfect

      As is always the case, my linguistic prescriptivism is riddled with hypocrisy. I just can’t make myself pronounce it “Lah-Tech”. I’m a “Lay-Tek” man all the way. Maybe because I’m a Northerner and the long ‘ah’ sounds pretentious in other words.


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