Travis   Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:02 pm GMT
Actually, ignore part of my previous comment, as I forgot that <y> is not used in modern Dutch orthography, and I was giving a realization of such that is more in line with the orthographies of the Scandinavian languages. Actually, the Dutch word you mean is not <boeye>, but rather <boei>, which would be practically identical in pronunciation to the GAE pronunciation of <buoy>.
Tiffany   Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:09 pm GMT
Hmm, makes me wonder where and when the pronunciation differences sprung up.
Guest   Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:57 pm GMT
Travis is correct about "boei" being the present form in Dutch, "boeye" is Middle Dutch.

Let's try to sort this out:
American English: /'bu:'i/
British English: /'boi/

Modern Dutch: /'bu:i/ or /'bo'ei/, depending on wether the ortography represent the sounds b-oe-i or b-o-ei (I don't know).

Middle Dutch: /'bu:i@/ (@ being schwa).
As buoy is Boje (/'boi@/) in German today, Middle Dutch boeye was probably pronounced similar, just with /u/ instead of /o/ and thus /'boi/ looks most probable for modern Dutch and thus, in order to honour the quentessential Dutch origin of this maritime word, most fitting for English.
Jim   Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:10 am GMT
Yes, it is best not to cause confusion. However, I've never once had a problem when it came to these particular homophones. The language is full of homophones but context is usually enough to aviod trouble.
Travis   Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:58 am GMT
Modern Dutch: /'bu:i/ or /'bo'ei/, depending on wether the ortography represent the sounds b-oe-i or b-o-ei (I don't know). <<

My guess is that it would be spelled as <boëi> were it actually <b-o-ei> (which would make it something like /bOEi/) rather than b-oe-i (which obviously makes it /bui/.
Candy   Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:05 am GMT
I pronounce 'buoy' and 'boy' exactly the same. I don't remember ever hearing another pronunciation for 'buoy', in the parts where I'm from! :) As Jim says, it's unlikely that there'd ever be a misunderstanding between the words, as the context would be clear.
Ted   Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:33 am GMT
Thanks to those who answered the implied question as to how those who say "boo-ee" pronounce "buoyant".

Although the etymology suggested for "buoy" is interesting, and differs from that given by Answers.com ("Middle English boie, from Old French boue, probably of Germanic origin") the fact that some who say "boo-ee" don't say "boo-ee-ant" is very interesting indeed, suggesting that "boy" was not the pronunciation in English prior to 1776.