I read the name to myself as mɪŋˈkɒfski and thought no more about it.
(About the name Minkowski, that is. I’m still trying to get my head round spacetime.)
In supplying this mental pronunciation of his name, I was following the pattern of other -owski names I know: the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, whom my UCL teachers referred to as ˌmælɪˈnɒfski, or Jacob Bronowski, presenter of the 1973 BBC TV documentary series The Ascent of Man, whom everyone called brəˈnɒfski.
Mention of Hermann Minkowski revealed a gap in my general knowledge. He was evidently an important figure in the mathematics underlying modern cosmology. In Wikipedia we read that he came from Kaunas (Kovno), now in Lithuania but then part of the Russian Empire, and was of Jewish descent, educated in Germany. He was awarded his doctorate at the University of Königsberg and subsequently taught there and at Bonn, Göttingen, and Zürich, all German-speaking universities.
The mathematician Hilbert called him his best and most reliable friend.
Seit meiner Studienzeit war mir Minkowski der beste und zuverlässigste Freund…As a German name, Minkowski is pronounced mɪŋˈkɔfski. This indeed anglicizes as (BrE) mɪŋˈkɒfski.
Since he is such an important figure in cosmology, I was thinking that I ought to add his name to LPD.
But if I do that I must check how it is actually pronounced by English-speaking physicists, mathematicians and cosmologists. Do they use the same pronunciation as I inferred?
It’s possible that they don’t, because Americans tend to treat -owski names differently, rendering them in accordance with English spelling-to-sound conventions as -aʊski. Do Americans refer to him as mɪŋˈkaʊski, then? Given the dominance of Americans in most fields of scientific research, would you find this pronunciation among British scientists too?
There’s no way to find out except to listen to people or to ask them. Fortunately we can nowadays sometimes save time by exploiting on-line resources.
I did a quick YouTube search. Given the existence of a classical musician and recording artist Marc Minkowski, the search term had to be “Minkowski -Marc”. This brought up this video and this one, showing that at least two Americans do call our man mɪŋˈkaʊski, as I suspected.
This British one, despite a promising title, has a sound track containing no speech.
Probably my entry for Minkowski, if I decide to add one, should read
But I need to check the BrE. Any British cosmologists out there?