Category Archives: pronunciation tips

Pronunciation tip: Ancient Greek philosophers

I’ve been wanting to do this pronunciation tip for a while, but I needed to wait until I could get my two friends to give the Classical and modern Greek pronunciations to go along with the English versions of the names. The time has come! (Advisory: The Greek pronunciations are for fun only. If you go around saying these names in those ways, no one will understand you and/or they’ll think you’re a pretentious weirdo.)

Don’t miss the craic!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and for my latest article for The Week I’ve taken a look at a word you may see in the vicinity of an Irish pub:

Have yourself a cracking St. Patrick’s Day

And while we’re on St. Paddy’s, I’ve made some videos over the years on how to say some Irish things:

Pronunciation tip: Dutch names

Any time I get to watch speed skating, I can’t help but notice two things: Dutch skaters are really good, and English-speaking announcers are really… challenged by Dutch names. So I decided to do a pronunciation tip that gives you a heads-up on some key details of Dutch pronunciation.

Pronunciation tip: Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic venues

I’ve done a quick pronunciation tip video to help anyone who’s a bit daunted by some of the place names that are associated with the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Pronunciation tip: Umlaut

One of the viewers of my last pronunciation tip asked if I could do one on letters with umlauts on them. So I did – with a little digression on articulatory and acoustic phonetics just to explain a bit of what is going on, and because I’m a huge linguistics geek.

Don’t be misled or go awry

My latest article for The Week is about book words – words you’ve learned from a book without learning the pronunciation. We’ve all had them, and there’s no shame in it:

Don’t be misled or go awry with ‘book words’

And here’s my companion pronunciation tip video (also embedded in the article):

Pronunciation tip: French philosophers

In response to my guide on how to say the names of German philosophers, I had a request to do one for French philosophers. Personal experience tells me that giving pronunciation tips for French words or names is a good way to get into an argument – probably with another English speaker who is very confident in French pronunciation but shouldn’t be (although French speakers are also known for having little leeway for deviation from what each considers the best French, even though it varies quite a bit from person to person). But what the heck. It’s fun. And at the very least, it will help English speakers who really aren’t sure. So here you go: the full names of Abélard, Althusser, Bachelard, Barthes, Bataille, Baudrillard, de Beauvoir, Bergson, Bourdieu, Brunschvicg, Camus, Canguilhem, Cavaillès, Cixous, Comte, Debord, Deleuze, Derrida, Descartes, Diderot, Duhem, Foucault, Gilson, Kojève, Lacan, Levinas, Lévi-Strauss, Lyotard, Macherey, Malebranche, Merleau-Ponty, Montaigne, Montesquieu, Poincaré, Ricœur, Rousseau, Sartre, Saussure, Tocqueville, Voltaire, Vuillemin, and Wahl.

Pronunciation tip: waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals, forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail

Shanties are the thing just now, so I thought I’d take the occasion to use one for a pronunciation tip on some words that have undergone sea changes between spelling and pronunciation. Here it is:

And here are the words:

Oh, I was a sailor without a mess kit
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
I came aboard in a top hat and waistcoat
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

They stripped me down, I was half frozen
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
Got fifteen lashes from a surly boatswain 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

There’s many a sight in land and sea to cause good people consternation
But the cursedest thing that ever be is English spelling and pronunciation

I said where’s me grog, they gave me a funnel
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
Till I emptied me guts hanging off a gunwale 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

I’m a man of letters, jots and tittles,
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
But I nearly died from the lack of victuals 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

You think it’s funny; I tell you, jokes’ll
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
Fall damn flat lashed down to the forecastle 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

There’s many a thing that tries your hand in ocean and geography
But you will never understand phonemics and orthography

They all called me weak, they called me a laggard
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
I’ll never forgive the captain, that blackguard 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

Taking to sea in search of yarns’ll
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals
End with you hanging up by the topgallant sail 
forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

Oh, I have faced the worstest riddles that mind and tongue will ever say:
waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals, forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail, hey!

Pronunciation tip: schism and schedule

People have opinions on how to say schism and schedule. Strong opinions. I’m here to set the matter straight.

Pronunciation tip: German philosophers

For my latest pronunciation tip, I’m focusing on something that has given me some issues over the years: the names of German philosophers. One can’t grow up in Canada without seeing their names just all over the place, of course, and yet no one seems to know how to say many of them. So I called in some help. Now you too can find out the German way to say the names of Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (von) Schlegel, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, Jakob Friedrich Fries, Wilhelm Dilthey, Ernst Alfred Cassirer, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl, Karl Theodor Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas. Sing along, now!