Let's say there's an English word spelled "Bababoo" but it's actually pronounced with the first "B" sounding like a "P."

What word (adjective or noun) is there to describe the pronunciation of the word as written? How about the actual pronunciation?

I guess I might be looking for the technical or linguistic term here.

There's a special case of foreign names as well. W.E.B Dubois, for example, where you have the name in French, so you would assume it's pronounced in the French manner but is actually pronounced otherwise. How could you describe or refer to each of the two different pronunciations of the name (without resorting to specific characteristics like "anglicized" or "french")?

  • 3
    Pronouncing the word as written can be called the spelling pronunciation. I can't think of a way to describe the pronunciation of surnames of foreign origin other than anglicised. Jun 16, 2020 at 15:24
  • There is no special term for pronouncing a word except pronouncing it. The spelling is irrelevant, since spelling doesn't determine pronunciation in English. Jun 16, 2020 at 16:06
  • When you say word as written, how exactly would you say that bass should be pronounced as written? It has two distinct pronunciations, one for the musical instrument and the other for the fish. How are you determining what as written is? Jun 16, 2020 at 16:08
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    You can say that a word is pronounced phonetically, but what that means, of course, depends on which phonetic system you're referring to. So it's not really a solution. Jun 16, 2020 at 16:09
  • An informal way of saying this would be to say "the name is spelt as it sounds" or "pronounced as it is spelt" or something similar.
    – Stuart F
    May 12, 2023 at 14:05

1 Answer 1


This is called a spelling pronunciation. As Wikipedia states:

A spelling pronunciation is the pronunciation of a word according to its spelling when this differs from a longstanding standard or traditional pronunciation. Words that are spelled with letters that were never pronounced or that were not pronounced for many generations or even hundreds of years have increasingly been pronounced as written, especially since the arrival of mandatory schooling and universal literacy.

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