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Topic: Pronouncing "Chebyshev"
Replies: 13   Last Post: Feb 6, 2013 4:47 AM

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Doug Magnoli

Posts: 783
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Pronouncing "Chebyshev"
Posted: Oct 9, 2002 8:53 AM
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I suspect the name to be Russian, because if it were some other Slavic
language written in the Roman alphabet, it wouldn't be spelled that way,
i.e., this is obviously a trnaliteration.

Since Russian has unpredictable stress, we don't know which syllable is
accented. However, if it's the last, then 'shev' is pronounced 'shoff,'
as in Gorbachov (or did we spell that with -ev?). If the stress isn't
on the last syllable, then that syllable is pronounced - 'sheff.'
(Notice that in Russian, final voiced consonants are devoiced.)

The other vowel weirdness is that if the stress is _not_ on the first
syllable, then 'che-' would be pronounced more like 'chi-'.

And when you see a y in a Russian word, it represents a vowel sound we
don't have--the closest we can come to it is the i in 'hit,' but that's
really not a very good approximation. Given, however, that our language
has nothing closer, that will have to do.

So possible pronunciations are:

chi - bih - SHOFF
CHE - bih - sheff
chi - BIH - sheff

I don't know all that much about Russian, but the last of these seems
very unusual to me, so I'd expect it to be one of the first two. I've
always pronounced it 'CHE-bih-cheff,' although from the transliteration
it appears that it shouldn't end in -cheff, but in -shev.

I'm sure that cleared it up a lot for you.

-Doug Magnoli
[Delete the two and the three for email.]

James the Lurker wrote:

> My statistics teacher and I are at odds as how to "Chebyshev" is
> pronounced. She says "Cheh bee' chev". I say "Cheh' bih shov". I
> realize that both or neither of these could be correct, but if anyone
> knows the preferred way to say, I'd be grateful for an answer.
> Many thanks,
> --James

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