I am writing a dialogue and I want a word to be said slowly so it is clarified.

The dialogue goes like this

"What's this?"

"It's a Bellis perennis."


"Bellis perennis." (I want this to be said slowly)

Should I separate the letters with dashed like this

"B-e-l-l-i-s p-e-r-e-n-n-i-s."

or should I insert spaces between the letters. But I don't want the reader to think I said each letter on its own.

3 Answers 3


Instead of putting dashes between letters, which suggests that each letter is pronounced individually, you could put dashes between the syllables.


  • What dashes? These are hyphens, not dashes.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:18
  • I meant hyphens. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:32

The convention for indicating that the speaker is sounding out a word slowly, emphasizing the accented syllables, is to put pauses between syllables. That can be done typographically like this:


Putting a dash between all the letters suggests that the word is being spelled out, not sounded out.

  • Can you find me a reference for this convention because I want to read about it more. What's wrong with Matts suggestion to separate the syllables with dashes? Thanks! Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:16
  • Matt's idea is OK. It suggests the speaker is emphatically marking the syllable boundaries, though not necessarily doing so very slowly. Depends on what you what.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:30
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellipsis
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:35

B-e-l-l-i-s p-e-r-e-n-n-i-s.

This would indicate to me that each letter is pronounced individually.

To indicate something is said slowly, I would just add extra letters:

Beeeeeellissssss pereeeeeeeennisssssss

  • This might work for familiar words with long vowel sounds, like "Helloooooooo", but in this case the extra letters make it look like it should be pronounced differently than the original. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:09
  • I am not the downvoter, but do you have any reference/research that can support your answer?
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 12:38

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