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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » What's the correct pronunciation of Zener? (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Rocketeer
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Karl Zener was an associate of JB Rhine who developed the famous five-symbol "ESP deck" that so many of us use in one way or another.

I always pronounced the name as if it were spelled "zenner". That common pronunciation may be why some people misspell the name "Zenner".

Lately I've been wondering if the name should not be pronounced as if it were spelled "zeener."

Does anyone have a definitive explanation for how the name should be pronounced and can you back it up with a citation?

Curiously,

Rocky
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Pit Boss
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I can't verify this, but I believe it is pronounced ZAYner.

JD
Michael Daniels
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This is a tricky one. I have taught parapsychology at University level for over 20 years and have never come across a definitive answer to this. Most parapsychologists I have met tend to pronounce it Zenner, but I think this is probably because they don't know any different. The Zener diode (named after Clarence Zener) is, I understand, pronounced Zeener.

Duke University (where both Rhine and Karl Zener worked) has a Zener Auditorium, named after the psychologist. Maybe someone who has connections with Duke University may know how this is pronounced.

Mike
Frank Douglas
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I've heard it pronounced 3 ways. ZEEner, ZAYner and Zeh-ner

The Rhine Ins. website has historical video clips and they pronounce it Zeh-ner.

Cheers
Frank
Rocketeer
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The Rhine Institute sells Zener decks. (At the absurd price of $25 a piece. They're non-profit so I guess you could write it off.)

So I decided to phone them. I got a recording that did not mention Zener at all!

Oh well. I guess I could call up Duke and just ask whoever answers how do you pronounce the name of Room 130 (the Zener Auditorium) in the Sociology/Psychology Building.
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Frank Douglas
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Rocketeer

Look at some of the historical videos about the Rhine Inst. Zener is used several times.

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Frank
Frank Douglas
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Here's a link to a video about the history of the Rhine Institute, Featuring Rhine's daughter, discussing her father's research, the Institute, and how he got started.

She pronounces it ZEEner.

70 YEARS OF HISTORY (RHINE INSTITUTE)

Zener is discussed around the 7 minute mark.

Cheers
Frank
muse
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To muddy the waters further, if it is a name of German origin (as the "Karl" would corroborate), perhaps it should be pronounced TSEH-ner
Rocketeer
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Thanks Frank!

I could have been lazy and just taken your word for it but I did watch the video and the "zeener" pronunciation is given at 7:05 into the film and again a few seconds later.

And muse, I agree, if he was indeed a native German then TSEH-ner would be the way he would have pronounced his own name. If he was second or third generation, then the family probably caved and anglicized it to "zeener".

I'm of Polish descent and my last name starts with "WR" which is pronounced "VR" in Polish. My grandfather was born in Poland but my father and everybody else in the family just let the W fall silent, as in "wring" or "wrought".
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jonnyboy
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In electronics, the well-known Zener diodes are pronounced ZEEner.
ddyment
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Zenerhyme [by Doug Dyment]

The insight for Joseph Banks Rhine's
Choice of perfect E.S.P. designs
Stemmed from the demeanor
Of Karl Edward Zener ...
Square, circle, star, cross, wavy lines.
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Michael Daniels
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Nice Doug. Here's my attempt:

When asked by Joseph Banks Rhine,
For ESP cards by design,
An artistic Karl Zener,
Used shapes bold and cleaner,
And easy to see in the mind.

Mike
John C
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While seeking an esp design
I came across Joseph banks rhine
He had hired a building maintenance cleaner
A smart man by the name of Karl Zener
In his spare time, he worked for this man Rhine
Making cards that were simple and leaner
DocBenWiz
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Hopefully in the UK it is NOT pronounced "Zed-eener"...!
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JustJohn
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I'm always surprised to see them in different colors or symbols beyond the star. I'd love to hear thoughts on how that happened.
NeverMind
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I heard it being pronounced as ZAKH'NER in Iraq, JAWNER in Somalia, Xi'Neer in Mongolia.
But I think the correct pronunciation is ZENNER
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ddyment
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NeverMind opined:
Quote:
But I think the correct pronunciation is ZENNER

Nope.

The traditional (German) pronunciation of the surname is ZAY-ner. But Karl, the Psychology department he chaired at Duke, the facility named after him, his other colleagues, his family, his friends, and surviving audio recordings all use the ZEE-ner pronunciation.
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Thomas Henry
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Hello All,

Doug is correct.

I never could figure out where that nonsense of "ZEH-ner" came from. A part of my background is in electronics, where the Zener diode is a common component, so from the outset I knew it was pronounced "ZEE-ner." This semiconductor part was invented by the notable physicist Clarence M. Zener, brother of Karl E. Zener. The correct pronunciation is mentioned in the former's New York Times obituary, by the way.

Thomas Henry
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NeverMind
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The flexibility of the English Language as a Tool can sometimes be its drawback. I guess it is time for English 2.0 - add a few more letters to the alphabet, maybe or add a couple more rules to the spelling algorithms?
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NeverMind
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Quote:
On Jul 27, 2023, Thomas Henry wrote:
Hello All,

Doug is correct.

I never could figure out where that nonsense of "ZEH-ner" came from. A part of my background is in electronics, where the Zener diode is a common component, so from the outset I knew it was pronounced "ZEE-ner." This semiconductor part was invented by the notable physicist Clarence M. Zener, brother of Karl E. Zener. The correct pronunciation is mentioned in the former's New York Times obituary, by the way.

Thomas Henry


that's an interesting bit of info, Thomas - that Physicist Clarence and Psychologist Karl are brothers.
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