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Pronouncing Foreign Sounding Names April 9, 2009

Posted by lyndastucky in Communication.
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Have you ever hesitated to address someone because you were afraid you might mispronounce their name?  A friend of mine once saw a name that was spelled Orangello.  She thought it was a bit unique and pronounced it like she saw it, orange jello.  However, the person was quick to point out that the name was pronounced oRANGelo and her friend LeMONgelo was frequently mispronounced, too. 

With our increasingly diverse society, we find ourselves trying to pronounce foreign names that are spelled very differently than American English rules would govern.  For example, some names begin with a /q/ but do not sit beside a /u/.   Names that begin with /kn/ are pronounced with a “silent” /k/  in America but the /k/ is often pronounced in other cultures–Knut is KNOOT.  The name Michel may look like “Michael” but is actually pronounced, mee-SHELL or Simon is pronounced see-MONE in some cultures.  How do you know which syllable to stress when you see this name: Bloduedd (BLODweth or BLODwed).  If you couldn’t see or hear the person, would you guess that the person is male or female? 

Next time you are introduced  to someone who has a foreign sounding name, respectively ask them to repeat or spell it.  Then ask them to teach you how to pronounce it.  Practice the name out loud and invite the person to correct you.  The ice will be broken and you can both relax.  You’ll feel  much more comfortable using the person’s name.

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Comments»

1. mssmotorrd - May 3, 2009

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2. 8Asians.com » Asian, Westerners Accents & Language Barriers - August 26, 2009

[…] — I can guarantee you that there will be a big chance they won’t understand each other. The way words are spoken and pronounced are always the key ingredient to better communication. You just have to speak the […]


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