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  1. #1
    englishhobby's Avatar
    englishhobby is offline Senior Member
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    Default Pronouncing surnames

    Hello,
    I have a rather "cultural" question. Do the natives always follow phonetic reading rules when they pronounce English surnames they've never heard before? Supposing, you see an unusual surname in the newspaper - will you read it loud according to the accepted rules of reading?

    So, how would you pronounce "Knebel"? Kn is usually pronounced as [n] at the beginning of the word, e is in an "open" stressed syllable, so it will be [i:], the second e is not stressed, so it will be [ɪ] (or [ə]?). All these elements combined, the whole word should be pronounced as ['ni:bɪl]. Am I right?

    If one reads an unfamiliar surname accoding to the accepted reading rules, is there a big chance that they'll pronounce it correctly (in general, not taking into consideration the speaker's individual articulation peculiarities)?

    Thank you in advance.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronouncing surnames

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    Hello,
    I have a rather "cultural" question. Do the natives always follow phonetic reading rules when they pronounce English surnames they've never heard before? Supposing, you see an unusual surname in the newspaper - will you read it loud according to the accepted rules of reading?

    So, how would you pronounce "Knebel"? Kn is usually pronounced as [n] at the beginning of the word, e is in an "open" stressed syllable, so it will be [i:], the second e is not stressed, so it will be [ɪ] (or [ə]?). All these elements combined, the whole word should be pronounced as ['ni:bɪl]. Am I right?

    If one reads an unfamiliar surname accoding to the accepted reading rules, is there a big chance that they'll pronounce it correctly (in general, not taking into consideration the speaker's individual articulation peculiarities)?

    Thank you in advance.
    'Knebel' isn't English. I'd pronounce it /kneIbl/.
    Now, if you're asking about English Surnames, how about: Hough, Cockburn, Donne, Worcester ...
    There aren't any accepted rules for saying people's names; sometimes you have to guess.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Pronouncing surnames

    And because of the problems many names pose with pronunciation and spelling, feel free to ask.

  4. #4
    englishhobby's Avatar
    englishhobby is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Pronouncing surnames

    Thanks.)
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

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