As I was leaving for The Netherlands, my girlfriend's mother said, "When you return, maybe you'll be able to tell me how to pronounce Van Gogh." I hadn't realized that there was any debate, but, yes, it turns out we Americans are totally mangling the great artist's name. As part of a shore excursion offered by Viking River Cruises, I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. On the way to the museum our tour guide said, "If you ask someone in Amsterdam 'Where is the Van Gogh Museum (pronouncing Gogh: Go),' they will say, 'Don't know.... Is he a French Impressionist?" It turns out that Gogh is not, in fact, pronounced go. Rather, the word sounds like someone clearing his or her throat then spitting a long distance. Van Grhhaufff. Listen below:
That's got to be easier than pronouncing crljenak kaštelanski, the Croatian grape that is the origin of Zinfandel and Primitivo.
I was sent to Amsterdam to cover the christening of Viking River Cruise's new longships for travel blog, EuropeUpClose.com.