I have used two rules for pronouncing words and names with double vowels. The first I learned in elementary school: when two vowels go walking the first does the talking. The second rule is for German words and names: paraphrasing rule one: when two vowels appear in German, the second does the talking. Exceptions to both rules are diphthongs, or two vowels pronounced as one vowel sound, e.g., noisy. And while we're at it, Hawaiian words are often mispronounced. Kaua'i is not pronounced Kuh-WHY. It's kuh-WAH-ee.

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    The rule is: For any word you don’t know how to pronounce, look in the dictionary. You may or may not be able to guess how a new word is pronounced based on your experience and your ability to recognize a word’s potential origin.
    – Jim
    Jun 30, 2017 at 18:16
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    Pronunciation is largely based on bias. If the person you're speaking to understands what you said then you pronounced the word sufficiently. If they don't understand you, listen to how others speak and try to emulate those sounds as best as you can. Jun 30, 2017 at 19:03
  • Rule #1 is that phonetic languages like Hebrew and Spanish follow rules for pronunciation, whereas English is filled with exceptions. Note the classic "GHOTI is pronounced as fish", for lauGH, wOmen, and naTIon. Jun 30, 2017 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


There is no consistent rule in the English language stating how to pronounce vowels, whether singular or doubled.

Neither is a particularly awkward case, since there are two common pronunciations of the same word: naɪðə or niðə. In the former, the "ei" is pronounced like the word "eye", while in the latter, it is a long "ee" sound, as in the word "weed".

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