Our company name is Kaiomi and it's actually a female name, although very very rare.

We pronounce it ourselves as kayh-oh-mee, but we hear people say keyh-oh-mee for example.

  • My first attempt would have been kigh'-oh-me. Rhymes with sky-oh-me – Jim Oct 30 '14 at 18:21
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    You pronounce it however the person who coined the name prefers. – Barmar Oct 30 '14 at 18:22
  • Related (possible dupe): How do you pronounce the name Ceri. – Tim Lymington Oct 30 '14 at 18:30

You pronounce an obscure name just like you pronounce any word you've never seen before: by taking your best guess at it. If you are subsequently corrected, you correct yourself.

In the case of Kaiomi specifically, until you are corrected, you are free to pronounce it /keɪ'ɔ:mi/, /kəɪ'oʊmi/, /kɑi'omi/, /kə'iəˌmaɪ/, or in a dozen other ways.

In the case of a neologism, you can only really be corrected by the person who coined it, and in the case of a name, you can only really be corrected by the person whose name it is. That is because two people with the exact same name can, and very often do, pronounce it in two different ways.

And even once you are corrected, trying to mimic the desired pronunciation is a matter of manners, not linguistics.

Indeed, from the linguistics standpoint, it is quite often impossible to pronounce a foreign name correctly, because not all sounds or sound combinations are part of every single language's phonetic alphabet.

As a corollary of this, once the name in question is that of a public figure (say, Lavigne or Merkel), or a metonym (say, Texas or Paris), or a company (say, Rosneft or Kaiomi), it gets a life of its own. Likewise for neologisms that go on to become popular. The correct pronunciation then gets decided upon by all speakers of the language collectively, and not by any person in particular, no matter how qualified and entitled that person is, or feels to be.

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  • There's one exception here ... place names. No matter how many Americans pronounce the Thames as a homophone for tames, they'll still be wrong. – Peter Shor Oct 30 '14 at 20:27
  • And Cambridge in Gloucestershire doesn't sound like Cambridge in Cambridgeshire. – Colin Fine Oct 31 '14 at 0:30
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    @Peter: where I come from, Thames is pronounced /ˈtʲɛmzə/, and you don't want to see how it's written. So Americans are actually not half bad, plus they more than make up for it by not pronouncing their own places correctly. – RegDwigнt Oct 31 '14 at 0:49
  • thanks, excellent explanation. It triggered me to do something I should have done already - contact a person with the name (which will take a little searching since it's quite uncommon) and ask her. – user1914292 Oct 31 '14 at 8:16
  • one more side note - all speakers of a language is a group that will never agree amongst itself. British English speakers and American English speakers will have certain words they pronounce differently (like certain, neither, process etc) or write differently (aluminum anyone?). So I would think a geographical addition to the language group would be more appropriate. In my particular case I'd be happy to know the American English pronunciation. – user1914292 Oct 31 '14 at 8:21

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