Anthony Weiner Pronounces Name Wrong

When Anthony Weiner spoke at Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner, I thought he was very funny. This is especially true when he spoke about living with his last name. It is at the beginning of this 12 minute talk (which is worth watching in full):

Weiner is wrong about how his name ought to be pronounced, however. What’s more, his comment that John Boehner should just go with his name—implying that it should be pronounced “boner”—is also wrong. Both names look German, with the correct spelling of “Boehner” being “Böhner.” With my limited knowledge of German, I would assume pronunciations of “viner” and “booner.”

It seem that both names are German and that these are the way the names were pronounced before coming here to the United States. According to The Internet Surname Database, we have the surname “Weiner” thanks to the Romans. It is derived from the Latin word “vinum,” which means wine, and was applied to people who lived or worked in vineyards. The name then moved with the Romans to Italy (e.g. Vingneri), Spain (Vina), France (Vignaux), England (Vyner), and, of course, Germany (Weiner). The one thing that is very clear in the pronunciations of all these words in their original languages is the “vie” sound. No “wa.” No “ee.”

I don’t know the etymology of the use of the term “weiner” as slang for penis. Certainly, sausages of all kinds have understandably been used in this way. The word “weiner” refers to sausages that come from Vienna, Austria—the German word for this region is “Wein.” If we pronounced the sausage correctly, then the slang would be similarly pronounced. None of this is any good news for Anthony Weiner. But it may make John Boehner feel better.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Anthony Weiner Pronounces Name Wrong

  1. Vienna isn’t Wein in German (that’s "wine"), it’s Wien.

    IE is pronounced ee, EI is pronounced eye.

    So Weiner is VINE-r.

    And the OE in Boehner is like the oe in French oeuvre: a cross between "er" and "oo" with your lips pursed – difficult to pronounce the first time, but easy once heard.

  2. It’s only English speakers who spell the name of the sausage that way. Germans spell it "Wiener" after Vienna, but the English misspelling stuck.

  3. Mairead: Thanks for the comment, but isn’t that what the article says? Weiner is pronounced "viner" and Boehner is pronounced "booner." In both cases, we Americans really hammer on that "er" at the end of the name in a way that Germans do not. You are correct about "wien," of course. But that’s an awful lot of pedantry for a tiny error.

    Jeff: Thanks for clarifying the wein/wien issue. As Tom Stoppard wrote, "You understand, we are tied down to a language which makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style."

    Thanks for commenting. This page is ridiculously popular. I would have thought with all the articles about Anthony Weiner, it would have been ignored. But no: people want to know how you pronounce his name. And Boehner’s too. It’s a funny old world.

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