Among the minor royals to be seen at the jubilee celebrations over the weekend was Princess Eugenie. She is the younger daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York; her mother is Sarah Ferguson and she is the Queen’s granddaughter.
(Yesterday she had decorated her fingernails with rather naff union flags. There’s a picture of them in today’s Guardian, though I can’t find it on line.)
I was struck by the fact that the ITV commentator pronounced her name as ˈjuːʒəni. On consulting Wikipedia I find that that pronunciation is given there as appropriate, with a supporting citation from a television documentary now no longer retrievable from the website mentioned. I wonder if this is indeed how she says her name. If so, it is worthy of comment.
The only bearer of the name Eugenie that I know or knew personally was the late Professor Eugénie Henderson (1914-1989), Professor of Phonetics in the University of London at SOAS. She was a former pupil of Daniel Jones and an expert on Thai, Karen, Chin and other southeast Asian languages as well as an inspired theoretical phonetician/phonologist. I knew her as a cheerful, hard-working and helpful older colleague. BAAP awards a biennial Eugénie Henderson prize.
She pronounced her name as juˈʒeɪni, and so did we all. She also spelt it with a French acute accent on the vowel in the middle.
Ever since Jones’s day EPD has prioritized ju:ˈʒeɪni, though also giving juːˈʒiːni and juːˈdʒiːni. The ODP gives BrE juːˈʒeɪni, AmE juˌʒeɪˈni (the ODP doesn’t use length marks for AmE). Forvo, too, gives the pronunciation juˈʒeɪni. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate gives three possibilities, which in IPA would be ˈjuːdʒəˌniː, juːˈdʒeɪni, juːˈdʒiːni.
So our pronunciation authorities give no support whatever to the form ˈjuːʒəni. If that is indeed what Andy and Sarah call her and what she calls herself, it’s an innovation.
As Professor Henderson’s spelling hints, the name is of French origin (and before that, of course, from Greek via Latin: Εὐγενία Eugenia ‘well-born’). In French it is pronounced øʒeni. So ju(ː)- is English rather than French, following words such as eugenics, euphoric, euphemism.