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Does anyone know a tool to look up names like Rumbaugh? Sometimes I hear something like "rumba" or even "rambo".

Is there a dictionary where I could look up the correct pronunciation?

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A little off-topic, but may be of interest: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Remou Nov 30 '10 at 23:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

One major issue with family names is that they can be pronounced however the family decides. Some pronounce the names as they were in the original language, some Anglicize the pronunciation, some Anglicize the spelling then adjust the pronunciation to fit, etc.

A good example of this is Stephen Colbert. He pronounces his last name koʊlˈbɛər while his father and brother use ˈkoʊlbərt.

Because of this flexibility, no reference will be able to tell you exactly how to pronounce any one person's name. The best they could do would be to provide an array of common ones.

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see also Hyacinth Bucket (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyacinth_Bucket) –  Kate Gregory Jul 27 '11 at 21:16
    
And the Czech Antonín Dvořák is often spelt, and always pronounced differently to the American August Dvorak (of the keyboard). –  Jon Hanna Jan 16 '13 at 10:57

Within the limits described by the other poster (Dusty), these websites do this job pretty well:

  • Forvo (If the word does not exist, you can submit it and someone will pronounce it eventually.)
  • Ingolo

Here is Rumbaugh from Forvo.

You may also try the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (hardcover).

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According to English rules, proper nouns can be pronounced any way the speaker chooses to. Family names are proper nouns. A service like that however would be interesting.

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