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How can you pronounce a name quickly and correctly? They may or may not conform to regular patterns. Currently I'm using "online website" to do the speaking each time.

Are there any shortcuts that I can use?

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closed as not a real question by onomatomaniak, RegDwigнt Oct 14 '11 at 12:44

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I suspect the answer will be "no". There's so many variations, and most names derive from other languages anyway - some have kept their original pronunciation, some haven't. When I was teaching, calling the roll was the worst part of the job because of this. –  Optimal Cynic Oct 14 '11 at 5:06

2 Answers 2

I'd concur with OC. Names like "Featherstonehaugh", pronounced "fanshaw"; "St. John", pronounced "sinjun"; "Keynes", pronounced "kaynes"; "Home", pronounced "hume" are just a few of the more outlandish examples that come to mind.

I only put this as an answer, rather than a comment, in order to include the following link, which you might find useful.

http://www.debretts.com/forms-of-address/surname-pronunciation.aspx

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True. No wonder my address book software has separate fields for "phonetic first name" and "phonetic last name". –  Raku Oct 14 '11 at 7:26
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I've never seen anything like Debrett's before. Thank you! Although it seems to be for British (or UK) English rather than American names, it is exceptional for well, being what I'd refer to as "robust" in statistics. There may be equivalents for American English names, but none that I know of. Also, I only thought books like Debrett's existed for the British peerage, but Debrett's includes all surnames, not only nobility. –  Feral Oink Oct 14 '11 at 8:33
    
Certainly not all surnames, but a pretty comprehensive list of those likely to be mispronounced. The problem is that, although these are the 'officially' accepted forms, what is considered correct by the individual person/family may differ again. One example that comes to mind is the Scottish footballer Ian St. John who's surname was always (one assumes with his blessing) pronounced "Saint John" and he was often called, simply, "The Saint" (perhaps showing my age there!). –  Matt Oct 14 '11 at 8:54
    
But it seems to say that "Beresford" is pronounced "Barkli". Shurely shome mishtake. –  Colin Fine Oct 14 '11 at 12:05
    
"Kean", pronounced "cane" in New Jersey, does not seem to be in Debrett's, so it misses at least one of the influential American families most likely to be mispronounced. –  Peter Shor Oct 14 '11 at 13:39

Gerard Nolst Trenité wrote the definitive guide.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
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That poem, called The Chaos, was written not by Bernard Shaw but by the Dutch teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité. –  ShreevatsaR Oct 14 '11 at 13:21
    
Thanks, I've updated the reference. –  Ed Guiness Oct 14 '11 at 13:23

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