How would the German surname Neu be properly pronounced?

+5 votes
My original immigrant ancestor is Noe-809|Peter Noe (a solid brick wall BTW). I am wondering how strong is the possibility that his surname was originally Neu. My Peter Noe was illiterate, as were most of his fellow Palatine immigrants. I can picture how these poor travellers were likely calling out their name to someone who was writing it down for the ship's manifest prior to their voyage to the colonies. My surname is pronounced with long O and E. If the vowels in Neu are pronounced as they are in the word  "Deutsch", for example, then it would be easy to see how my name came to be! Especially if the clerk was not German.

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

WikiTree profile: Peter Noe
in Genealogy Help by Paul Noe G2G1 (1.8k points)
edited by Paul Noe
N O i

6 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

Click on the "play" icon and you will hear the word "neu" here. In case he was really a "Neu", I wonder why he didn't simply change his name to the English "New". 

by Jelena Eckst├Ądt G2G6 Pilot (958k points)
selected by Michel Vorenhout
Thank you, Jelena. That's just what I suspected. Big help!!

I also suspect that Peter was just saying his name and leaving it to others to spell it however they wished. If I couldn't read what others were writing I wouldn't much care about the spelling.
+3 votes
Neu in German is closer to Noyee, than to New, so it make sense to me that if he was illiterate, others recored his name in English as Noe.
by Daniel Bly G2G6 Mach 6 (64.8k points)
"New" would have been the translation of the German "Neu" to English.  I knew a Redfoot family that was originally "Rotfuss" in German, but they translated it into English when they came to the U.S.A.
+5 votes
Noe is also a proper German surname (my wifes surname actually). Old versions can also be "Nohe". Did you do any DNA testing? Check my Noe tree at
by Wolfgang Tremmel G2G1 (1.3k points)
Thanks! I'll try the Nohe spelling and see what comes up.
+2 votes
I grew up in a heavily German region of Michigan and we had several Neu families in our church. They always pronounced it New, but that could have been the English pronunciation.
by Sherrye Woodworth G2G3 (3.5k points)
+9 votes
I am currently taking German. Neu is german for New, but the pronunciation is Noi. as in Annoy.
by Linda Franks G2G2 (2.5k points)
+5 votes
It's pronounced "Noy." If said slowly, e.g., by a Swiss-German or Rheinland-Pfalz speaker, it might have come out more like No-ee, and you are right, someone writing who didn't speak German might spell it phonetically No-e.
by Manley Manley G2G Crew (660 points)

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