|Van Gogh by Anne Scrimshaw (after Van Gogh)|
Although of course he wasn't French and he might not have cut off his own ear, but more about that later.
I normally pronounce it something more like Van Goff due to me having a slight hint of a London accent on my “th”s (ok it's a gh but hopefully you get my meaning). However I have heard many, mainly American's pronouncing it Van Go and that is becoming more popular here. I assuming this has happened because in French they tend to leave off the last syllable, or so I understand, not that I was paying much attention in my French lessons, and he was a French impressionist, wasn't he? Well although he was friends with Paul Gauguin and other like him, he was actually Dutch, and he was more of a post-impressionist.
But did he cut off his own ear? There has been some interesting new research that suggested that Paul Gauguin, who like to walk about late at night with a small sword for protection might have accidentally cut it off. Ether because he was surprised by Van Gogh in the street or because he just would not shut up. Van Gogh was apparently quite annoying and a bit smelly, not that I want to be smellist. I was going to say some of my close friends smell, but that's not true. More very distant down wind acquaintances maybe. Van Gogh might even have delivered the part of the ear not as a love token (because let's face it you would have to be really deranged to think a girl would love that?), but so Gauguin could see what he had done.
We may not be able to answer the question of who cut his ear , but we should be able to answer the question of how to pronounce his name. So I asked a friendly Dutch person. As far as I know all Dutch people are friendly, and of course speak perfect English. Dutch is a somewhere between German and English both geographically and linguistically – although that's only in my opinion and as I have already mentioned Language is most definitely not my strongest subject, and it's not at all soft and flowly like French. OK I have made up the term flowly. She said that if you pronounced as you should do if you lived in that are of Holland where he came from you should pronounce it with with an ending that was hard as nails, almost Van Gochk ( I can't in type do justice to the guttural ending of this word however much I try) So there you go, next time you hear someone talking about Van Go, you can tell them where to go – politely of course – he was Dutch after all, and you wouldn't want to go up setting them especially late at night when they have a sharp sword!
What do you think? And did he really shoot himself – they never found the gun you know!