I found 2 American pronunciation samples on Forvo, and they said /ˈʃæmən/ (audio), I wonder if British people say /ˈʃeɪmən/ (audio), or not? Could you please tell me something about that?

  • 1
    The OED clearly has a lot to say pronunciation-wise. {Brit. /ˈʃɑːmən/, /ˈʃamən/, /ˈʃeɪmən/, U.S. /ˈʃɑmən/, /ˈʃeɪmən/}
    – Lordology
    Mar 24, 2019 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


As an American I consistently say /ˈʃæmən/ and don't recall ever hearing anyone, American or otherwise, saying /ˈʃeɪmən/.

The latter might be a regional difference? I've lived in a half dozen or so different places and haven't come across it. Still, I haven't covered them all.

Per Peter Shor's comment /ˈʃeɪmən/ is the primary pronunciation in at least one dictionary of British English.

Note: Since I relied on personal experience as a native speaker for this answer I'll mention that my formative speaking years were spent in the Northeastern United States and that I have spent significant time living in the South Atlantic, Midwest, and Mountain regions of my country. I consume media mostly in American and British English.

  • 3
    /ˈʃeɪmən/ is pretty common, making it sound like it starts with the shame at the front. /ˈʃæmən/ would start like the word sham.
    – tchrist
    Mar 23, 2019 at 13:10
  • Is it common in the U.S. @tchrist or do you mean common in the Anglosphere? Where do you run into it? Maybe there's an audio or video example to link to online. Mar 23, 2019 at 13:17
  • /ˈʃeɪmən/ is given as the main pronunciation in the (British) Cambridge dictionary. I can only find it as an alternate pronunciation in American dictionaries. I suspect that in the U.S. it is a regional pronunciation, and that it's more common in the U.K. Mar 23, 2019 at 13:54
  • I have only ever heard "shawmen" (First syllable like ’bother’)
    – Jim
    Mar 24, 2019 at 6:46
  • 1
    @PeterShor The CED appears to have it wrong with the US IPA. They transcribe it as /ʃeɪmən/, but if you listen to it, it clearly says /ʃ'ɑːmən/.
    – Lordology
    Mar 24, 2019 at 15:47

I hear both "SHAME-an" and "SHAW-man" here in the U.S. I just listened to a 2009 lecture on shamanism by a U.S. expert on the subject, Dr. Stanley Krippner (in order to copy-edit a transcript) and in that lecture, a keynote talk for the International Association for the Study of Dreams, he consistently says "shaman" like "SHAME-an," and "shamanism" like "SHAW-man-ism." But I'm trying to find a link to a Krippner talk that's available to the general public, and so far I'm only finding him saying "SHAW-man" -- so Google him yourself, and see what you can find!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.