I would like to know how Ausubel and Vygotsky are pronounced in an English context. As regards the latter, some colleagues pronounce it /vɪ/ and some others /vaɪ/. I’d like to know which the correct one is.My brief answer was that I don’t know. I have never studied educational psychology, and although I have seen these names in writing I am not aware of ever having heard anyone say them aloud.
If I had thought it necessary to include them in LPD, I would have had to do some research. I would have checked various reference books plus Wikipedia. I would have asked one or two psychologist colleagues at UCL. I might have approached the BBC Pronunciation Unit to see if they could help.
To take Vygotsky first: he was Russian (or Belorussian?), and Wikipedia shows his name as Лев Семёнович Выготский or Леў Сямёнавіч Выгоцкі (1896-1934). That tells us that the surname is pronounced vɨˈɡɔtskʲɪj or vɨˈɣɔtskʲi. Clearly the closest anglicization is with vɪ-, not vaɪ-. Depending on your criteria for correctness, that is presumably also the “correct” one: BrE vɪˈɡɒtski. Would Americans say vɪˈɡɑːtski or vɪˈɡoʊtski? I’d have to enquire (or possibly inquire).
The other name Ausubel, is more difficult. It looks as if it is German, though in German Ausübel would literally be “out-evil”, which seems an odd kind of name to have. So perhaps it isn’t German after all. In any case it doesn’t really matter, since the psychologist David Ausubel (1918-2008) was an American, born in New York. American anglicizations of foreign surnames are notoriously difficult for non-Americans to predict. They are generally based on the spelling, so I can surmise he might have been ˈɔːzəbl, but would not be at all confident about that. There’s no substitute for getting hold of someone from his family, or people familiar with him and his work — and asking.
Possibly some reader of this blog will know…