Why isn’t Robert Mueller’s last name pronounced like Ferris Bueller’s?

Mueller, Mueller, Mueller?

Why isn’t Robert Mueller’s last name pronounced like “Bueller” of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” fame? Is there a correct pronunciation?

I’ve been pronouncing it like Bueller for nearly 2 years. I’ve heard some people on TV pronounce it like I do, but most pronounce it “Muller.”

Answer

The simple answer is that in English, the pronunciation of a name has no definite connection to the name’s spelling or etymology.

Nevertheless, here’s some background information that may make the variation that you mention less surprising.

  • In Standard German, “ue” represents the sounds /yː/ and /ʏ/. The usual spelling is “ü”; “ue” is used instead of “ü” in contexts where it is not possible to write “ü”, and also in other contexts in the names of certain individuals. The surname Müller (as well as the variant spelling Mueller) is pronounced with /mʏl/ in Standard German.

  • The sounds /yː/ and /ʏ/ can correspond to other sounds like /iː/ or /ɪ/ in regional varieties of German. The English cognate of Müller/Mueller is “Miller” (with /mɪl), and I’ve heard that pronunciation used as well for the name “Mueller”.

  • In English, the sequence “ue” is uncommon in word-internal position. In word-final position, when “ue” represents a vowel sound, it is usually the sound /(j)u(ː)/ (as in cue, hue, sue, due, flue, blue, true, rue), which is somewhat similar to German /yː/. So the use of the pronunciation /bjuːlr̩/ “byooler” for Bueller may be partly due to influence from the spelling.

  • There is also variation in the English pronunciation of “oe” and “eu” in names from German.

  • German vowels don’t map straightforwardly onto English ones. Many American English speakers find that German /ʏ/ sounds most similar to English /ʊ/ as in bull or put, but German /ʏ/ can also be perceived as /ʌ/ as in gull or cut (p. 32, “Cross-Language Perception of German Vowels by
    Speakers of American English
    “, by Lore Katharina Gerti Schultheiss, 2008; summarizing the results of Strange, Bohn, Nishi & Trent (2005) “Contextual Variation in the Acoustic and Perceptual Similarity of North German and American English Vowels”).

    Recent studies like these might have limited applicability to the question of how Robert Mueller‘s name came to be pronounced /ˈmʌlr̩/, as Wikipedia indicates that Mueller’s name comes from his ancestor August C. E. Müller who immigrated to the U.S. in 1855.

There is no consensus on a single definition of “correct pronunciation”. For names, a common view is that the “correct pronunciation” is whatever pronunciation the bearer of the name uses (although in practical terms this is not a very clear-cut criterion).

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Devil07 , Answer Author : herisson

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