11 August 2016

Name Pronunciation

How To Pronounce Names, http://www.wikihow.com/Pronounce-Names 
A WikiHow, http://www.wikihow.com, used under Createive Commons license 3.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Name Pronunciation

Pronouncing names and proper words, as well as a bunch of the words found in the dictionary, can be tough!

Knowing how to pronounce names helps us in countless ways.  An important way for genealogists is that it helps us figure out how a clerk might have phonetically written a name.

When my daughter (who's a linguist) and I want a good laugh about pronunciation, we just get in our car and set Google Maps or Waze (navigation app) to some destination.  We are always so struck by issues in pronunciation in terms of emphasis, stress, treatment of vowels and so much more!  Sometimes we can figure out “how” the mispronunciation occurred and other times we are just at a loss.

For example – sometimes historical context determines how we pronounce a word.  The street/family named Trawick is pronounced Tray-wick.  Historically, it was actually spelled that way.  The navigation tools pronounce it was Traw-ick.  That makes sense when you look at it and try to pronounce it.

Unfortunately, there are so many exceptions when it comes to pronunciation, that I don’t anticipate that our navigation apps will ever correctly pronounce every community or street name.

That said, there are some tools to help us learn how to pronounce personal names.  Lisa Louise Cooke shares in her post, How to Pronounce Names.

Be careful when seeking out tools to find American English-based ones and not UK-based ones.  Though historically we shared a common language, they really have morphed through time and there are many everyday words that we pronounce quite differently.  

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries has a great feature where you can listen to the pronunciation for several locales (British = BrE, North American = NAmE, etc).  Here’s the page for how to pronounce “garage.” Take care with this website – it’s dangerous and addicting!  I kept trying out different words and had a blast!

Now if I could only find a tool to help me remember any “new” pronunciations!

What is your favorite pronunciation tool?

What pronunciation did you “learn” about that helped you with finding that name in records?

What name is most butchered by your map/directions software on your cell phone?

Editor’s Note: A related Upfront with NGS post that might interest you -- Misspelled Genealogy Words -- They Really Do Matter!

Editor's Note: 08/12/2016 corrected whose to who's and cellphone to cell phone and made sure link to referenced article was live.

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